"Betwixt and Between". Certainly a phrase which very well describes the emotional status of one living with trichotillomania. It's 'not one nor the other'. In other words, one cannot KNOW 'will I, won't I pull today'? Will that urge/need overcome me? Will I be able to 'fight it' or will I manage to 'rise above it'? If I can't control it, why not? If so, what will I be doing that permits me to rise above it?
One thing I know is that when I am busy, my time is occupied, I feel 'safe' from pulling. It's those times when I am complacent, without anything to do, perhaps watching TV, or alone that I find myself moving into 'pull time'. And certainly? It needs to be done solo. Alone. To hide the shame and shock which I know will inevitably follow, but it is not compelling enough for me to 'not pull'. Pulling just is too satisfying, 'winning' in the scenarios described above.
The key word is certainly 'control'~! Yes~! I have, over these 46 years of my life since the onset of my trichotillomania, learned how to 'control' my pulling. I still need/want to do it, but I have learned to contain it so that, unless I reveal otherwise to another, they do not NOW know 'I am a puller'. For me? This has been what works. I tried to quit. That effort only exacerbated the urge, seemingly. Thus, I set up a 'plan with myself'; I would pull at established frequencies. And when I pull, I will permit myself to FULLY ENJOY IT~! Sound funny? Well? No. I permit myself the opportunity to embrace the whole process; pull, tap the bulbs which cover the follicle against my lower lip repeatedly for a few seconds, then just flick the hairs away. Lost to the environment without a care as they have served their purpose; pull and tap and flick~! I will work my way around my eyelashes very methodically. First the area on the outer end of the eyelid, then the next closest area, then onward until I hit the end near my nostril. It's always the same process; start with the right eye, 'complete' it, then over to the left eye. Same process on left eyelid. Since I am primarily right-handed, I use my right hand to pull. Thus? I must 'adjust' my pulling tension on my left eye, make it a lighter pull or I will pull too many~! I suppose I am actually pulling with the same tension, it just feels differently. But due to the angle of my arm, hand and fingers switching position from right eye to left eye, I have to be careful not to apply too much tension. It's also critical that I do not 'linger' on one area. Although, it's VERY tempting at times~! Sometimes an area just does not feel 'satisfied' and I want to continue to pull at that spot. It feels that there are lashes that are still intact on my lid that 'want' to be pulled. Admittedly, I sometimes DO stay at a spot too long and, inevitably, then usually a handful of hairs come out. Yikes! Definitely NOT what I wanted to happen, but it sure feels great when it happens. Of course, I complete the process by tap, tap, tapping the hair bulbs upon my lower lip until the final flick, nevermore to give further thought to the particular hairs. Those hairs that were just moment ago SO relevant are now completely irrelevant. When both eyelids are 'completed', I just relax and bask in having satisfied my urge, my need, apparently also my brain.
Next? Off to a mirror (usually the bathroom so I can shut the door and examine closely any 'damage done' or 'did I successfully pull just enough for others to not notice'? I brush lightly to note the current status, ensuring there are no 'bald spots'. If I see an area that is getting a bit bald, I know that when my next 'pull time' happens, go lightly in that area. Gotta keep this 'game going' so no one notices. A touch of mascara if I am going somewhere and I 'good to go', no odd looks or indications from others that my eyelids appear to be very thin. Aha! Success~! And since it takes between 6 to 8 weeks for new lashes to fully grow back, I can have 'pull time' in about 3 to 4 weeks, since the growing time for all the lashes is staggered since they are consistently beginning their growth cycles at various times.
Well? There's my 'current' state of trichotillomania. It used to be MUCH WORSE~! But, that will be discussion for later posts. I end, however, with this statement because it provides HOPE to those who are truly 'in the dregs' of this disorder. Who are in it to where it is, literally, ruining their lives. I've been there. I DO know how it feels. Just know.....as the ad on TV states for kids/anyone who is dealing with bullying, "It Does Get Better". Well, that applies for trichotillomania, too~! Believe it~~~!!!
As ever, your fellow 'puller',