I'm interested in how, when, IF others have shared their 'secret' of trichotillomania. Since it is a very shame-based disorder, many choose to keep it a secret, if possible. Sometimes the pulling is so obvious, it is impossible to keep that secret. But not all folks pull in obvious areas. For instance, if one pulls in the pubic region, one's body hair or an animal's fur.
I realized something was 'wrong' when I was about 11 years of age. I was into adolescence and was feeling strongly compelled to pull in the pubic region. I also was strongly compelled to pulling my eyelashes and rubbing the hairs in my right eyebrow. I recall going and getting my mother's tweezers, then reserving the bathroom (which I had to share with 3 other siblings) for total privacy. Due to my adolescent age, much support was lent by my mother, especially, to ensure I had my privacy time. Little did she know that I had just raided her bathroom medicine cabinet to attain her tweezers~! Then? I would strategically pull the lashes, one by one, with the tweezers. First the right eye. Then the left eye. There was a 'snap' of my eyelid as the bulb of the hair was removed from it. It hurt in a sense, but it also felt really good, too. Relieved would be how I would explain the feeling. I had removed the hairs that, somehow, 'felt' like they 'needed to be pulled'. I don't know why some felt they needed pulled and others were purely benign and unnoticed, not giving me any sensation whatsoever that they needed removed.
I would take each hair as it was removed, tap it against my lower lip, then when it felt 'finished', simply flick it away. By the time the pulling session was over, I would then review the line-up of all the pulled hairs surrounding the sink. More importantly, I would review my eyelids and right eyebrow, checking for 'damage done'. Often, it was shocking. Worry would overtake me and I would wonder how would I ever hide this mess? Surely someone would note it.
Then came the necessity of returning my mom's tweezers, ensuring they were back to their special spot on her medicine cabinet shelf. This was sometimes pretty risky as, having 3 siblings and my parents' bedroom being their private space, I had to sneak around to accomplish the tweezer's return. Once again came the onset of great stress which far outweighed the momentary satisfaction of the pulling session. Yet? I knew that, surely, I would pull again, repeating the very same process.
Over the years, the places I pulled would change as my living situations changed and I grew up, moving out on my own as a young adult. But, the secret remained. Until the age of 38 years old, the secret of pulling remained. Finally, I told someone. Someone with whom I shared a home. The 'cat was out of the bag', finally~! I recall that conversation lasting for hours. My friend was so interested, hearing about this behavior I did regularly. Interestingly, my friend was also a mental health therapist, yet had never heard of trichotillomania. I was lucky. I had a kind, sensitive, genuinely interested and supportive person as my audience. For the first time since I was 11 years old, I felt relief that I had told this huge secret I had held for 27 years. We even laughed. Not at me, but just because it was so 'different'.
And from telling one person, then I began to slowly tell more people. With each person I told, I felt more relief. I didn't feel weird, creepy, odd. I felt relief. And with each revelation of speaking my truth, I continue to feel relief. I don't blast it to the world. But when it feels appropriate and important, I tell my truth. So, I can attest that, for me, the truth has set me free. And it will continue to set me free as now that I've gotten a piece of that 'freedom pie', I want more~!
Sending out my thoughts of freedom for any/all who are right now suffering from this disorder. It's surely not fair. But, I do believe and have experienced, there is Hope. I hope relief for all.