Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Ways to Deal with Trichotillomania

As you may already be aware, I have a hair pulling disorder called Trichotillomania. I have previously written all about my story in my Trichotillomania - My Story, Tips & Trichs and wanted to write an update post and share some more tips. I have been receiving A LOT of direct messages/comments/emails about trich and so I thought I would combine everything into this post.
I haven't stopped pulling. Nor do I have the cure.

But, I do know how upsetting, belittling, heartbreaking, soul destroying and life consuming this disorder is. I know what it feels like you can't do something out of fear you may start pulling out your hair. I know what it feels like to see people looking at your eyebrows, wondering why they're so drawn on. I know what it's like to be outside in the wind, hoping that your false lashes aren't going to fall off. I know what it's like to constantly worry about your eyebrows rubbing off during the day. I know what it's like to worry about what your eyelashes look like from the side. I know what it's like to look down to a pile of little hairs on the desk. I know what it's like to have that one little hair that you desperately need to pull out. I know what it's like to pull out that one single hair that was stopping you from having a bald patch. I know what it's like to pull so much that you've irritated your skin and eyelids to a point where it hurts to blink. I know what it's like to feel as though everything you do is so much harder because you have the added the challenge of trying to not pull out your hair.

I know what it's like to lose all of your beautiful eyelashes and thick eyebrows.

You're not a freak, you're not weird, you're just one of thousands of people who have a Body Focused Repetitive Behaviour Disorder.

Trichotillomania Updates

During the summer, I managed to grow my eye brows back but by August I started pulling on my eyelashes. I was waiting for quite a big decision at the end of August/early September and I think it was the lead up to that that got me pulling on my lashes. It has been quite upsetting for me to start pulling out my lashes again, as I hadn't done so since the summer of 2014. 

From September until now, I hardly pull out my eyebrows. They grew back really thick, so thick that I actually really struggle to look after them. I definitely think that Rapid Brow helped, I always felt like the brows grew back quicker when I used that. Unfortunately, they came at the expense of my eyelashes.

For the past six months, what happens is that I'll go through a period of a few days where I pull like crazy, leading to massive bald patches in my eyes. Then, it's an uphill battle of trying not to pull at all and waiting for the lashes to grow back in again. This period is the absolute worst.

I had pulled a lot at the start of October, and they had started to grow in a lot by December but then I had three important essays in for January. In those last two weeks before the essays were in, I absolutely destroyed my lashes. I had pretty much no lashes on one lid and it was pretty devastating. Not only do I not like the look of it, it was also really hard to wear false lashes.

I'm in a bit of a better place now, a month on. Those lashes have started to come through and I don't have any significant bald patches at the moment. I'm trying incredibly hard to not pull and I am playing the waiting game. I am so sick and tired of wearing winged liner and false lashes. Hey ho, I'm trying my very best and I hope some of my techniques help you as well.

Ways I deal with Trich

  • Cover up the area 
This will come as no surprise to anyone. Covering up the area reduces the availability of the hair to be pulled, reducing hair pulling. BUT, it also breaks the cycle of hair pulling. The less hair pulling you do, the better in the long run. Covering up the area isn't just masking the problem, it does actually help you kick the habit for good. 

Things I use are: 
- Cotton Headbands
- Glasses - I recently got prescribed some as I was going a little blind and they've helped SO MUCH. I was using fake glasses (from Claire's) beforehand and they worked as well. 
- Sleeping Masks - I'm not the biggest fan of these because I find them annoying but if I'm desperate, I will always reach for mine.

These are just for eyelash and eyebrow pullers. I'm sure there are a thousand other things that can cover up the area, but it is each to their own. What works for me, may not work for you. 

You can also cover your fingers/hands but I've always found this impractical. Some people use thimbles, little grips, plasters or gloves. I have seen a lot of long false nails helping as well. Again, you have to find out what works for you. 

  • Castor Oil
There are other kinds of oil available as well, such as coconut oil. Putting this all over my eyelids when doing work helped so much before Christmas. Now that I have to wear glasses to do work, I no longer need the Castor Oil during the day. It works as a barrier to the lashes/brows, when they're all slippery it's difficult to actually pull a hair out. It's also REALLY annoying to get oil all over your hands, even less of an incentive to pull! On top of that, Castor Oil helps with regrowth of lashes. I put it on before going to sleep most nights as well.

  • Keep your hands busy
Some people use fidget toys, some people knit etc you get the idea. Anything you enjoy doing that keeps your hands busy, get them in your life. Preferably something that needs two hands. For me, watching TV or doing something where I don't really actively have to do anything, are some of the worst times for me to pull. I do need to get a replacement, but at the moment I just play games on my phone. My farm game is definitely my favourite at the moment. Otherwise, I do enjoy liking photos on Instagram. Basically, I use my phone to keep me busy. Although this works a little bit differently, but I really enjoy doing my makeup as a way of keeping my mind off pulling. 

  • Exercise and Healthy Eating
This goes without saying that it's good for you. By doing exercise, your stress levels are lower, which means that you're less likely to pull. At least, that's the case for me anyway. It is also another activity where you can't pull your hair out. It is win, win, win, win, win. You feel better, you look better, you pull less? What's not to love about a 10km run in the rain! 

Healthy eating, again, I don't need to give you a lecture about how it's good for you. Eating a lot of vegetables will help with regrowth of hair as well. Eating meals regularly also helps. I find that alcohol, especially on a hangover, can make hair pulling worse as well. A regular sleeping pattern helps too!

  • Talk to someone
I can't stress this enough. Please talk to someone. A problem shared is a problem halved (is that the saying? it looks weird written down...). I can't even count the amount of times that people have messaged me saying they've never spoken to anyone about it before. I would advise talking to someone who you love and trust, perhaps a parent, partner or best friend. These people are in your life for a reason, they want to know these things and they will not reject you for being a 'freak'. Because you are not a freak, and neither am I. Venting to people helps so much, please do not bottle all of these feelings in. 

  • Join a support group
If you REALLY don't want to talk to someone you know, then find someone online to talk to. The best group I've come across is a Trichotillomania group on Facebook. There are LOADS of members on there and I have found that it is good for getting a bit of support, and some advice when needs be. I don't post often, but have found it useful when I have. 

I have found seeing other posts knowing that there are people out there going through the exact same thing as me comforting. I have seem some good advice on there and it is always really lovely to see success stories. I would really urge you to join this group. 

  • Keep a trich diary
Keeping a diary of how much pulling you've done, what you were feeling, any foods that may have set you off etc can help you figure out your triggers. You can then try and minimise those triggers, thereby reducing hair pulling. 

  • Stroking a pet
Stroking my cat is one of the best things for me, she's soft, she likes it, stops me pulling and it's relaxing. I hate being in uni because I don't get to hang out with Daphne, but if you were considering getting a pet, then there's your excuse! (I have a post about Adopting My Cat if anyone happens to want to read it!)

  • Make time for fun
Life is stressful. I like to have one night a week where I get to eat and do whatever I want. I look forward to that all week then as well. It's only little, but the prospect of fun on the weekend makes dealing with a bad day/my workload a bit better. I have had to accept that I can't just do my degree 24/7.

  • Deep breaths
I try to do this in the middle of a pulling session. It helps take my mind off whatever I'm doing, distracts me and also relaxes me. If this doesn't really work for you, it's probably time to get up and do something else. 

  • Positive Thinking
Thinking positively definitely helps me. My hair pulling is always much worse if I think thoughts like "I can't do this", "I'm going to be stuck with this forever" etc. I don't want this disorder, so I've had to cut out all of the negative thinking. No one can do it for me, I have to do it myself. I've cut out every single shed of insult and only say nice things to myself and after a while, you start to believe it yourself. Then you see results. YAY POSITIVE CYCLE. Don't be hard on yourself either, this is a loooooong uphill battle, it's hardly surprising if you pull out a few hairs, you just have to keep on trying. 

No one ever achieved something amazing by telling themselves they couldn't do it. 

These are some of the things that I do to help myself from pulling out my eyelashes and eyebrows. I know they won't work for everyone, but it is unfortunately an uphill battle and you have to be creative with ways of dealing with this horrendous disorder. I know it's hard but we can do it. 

Please let me know if this helped you! If anyone else has any suggestions of way to help curb hair pulling, I would love to know. 

Love, Gweni xxxx 

Trichotillomania Related Posts & Videos

If you're looking for another blogger who writes about trich as well, please do check out Sophie at www.prettyandpolished.co.uk



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Brandy "Serenity" Holder said...

Love your post, and the video for eye makeup with no eyelashes!!
But what the actual fuck are the other ppl in the comments section here talking about!? I find their comments super weird and off-topic, not to mention the bad grammar and broken English!!
But I digress... So I've been pulling out my eyelashes since 3rd grade (and I'm almost 37 now!) At first, it was only eyelashes, then to head hairs (until the kids at school started making fun of the various bald patches on my head and asking me if I had cancer) so I switched to eyebrows and eyelashes since it's less noticeable... And after years of aggregation and frustration just trying not to pull them out long enough for them to grow out even just enough for others to be able to see them (which included weeks of being depressed, annoyed, and easily angered due to the initial itching, then the pain of the lash stubs stabbing the eyelid opposite of them as my eyes burned and watered so badly I couldn't open then, then the aggravation of being able to not only feel them but also see them and feel them touch each other, all of which drove me nuts and I was such a bitch that I couldn't even stand myself!) only to have something set me off and I pulled them ALL out again! But what really made me just absolutely disgusted with the whole thing was after going through all that, my eyes started to itch (allergies) and one good rub and they all fell out again, almost all at once. Seeing all those little hairs strewn across my fingers caused a sadness and disappointment that have only been topped by the death of my husband and the removal of my children from my home. I decided then and there that the struggle to be normal just wasn't worth it and accepted the disorder and bald eyes as, well, just a part of who I am...
Now that I am getting older, my lids have begun to droop slightly from the use of Botox for the treatment of migraines, the skin on my lids is getting looser and I've developed crows feet and all these things are making it more difficult to do my eye makeup than ever before! So I really do appreciate your tutorial and I applaud you for having the courage to make your videos and post as you do!
Anyway sorry just wanted to say THANK YOU AND YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!!!

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