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Life With Trichotillomania | Colleen's Tell-All Story

Posted on October 09 2018

The Secret Life of Trich 

As women, our hair can often be a big part of our identity. Losing it can be an emotional struggle, causing a woman to feel like she’s lost a part of herself. I’ve had a condition for most of my life that I’ve kept secret from most, that causes me to have chronic hair loss. The only kicker is that I do it to myself. Along with 4% of the population, I have trichotillomania. In other words, I pull my own hair out causing bald or thinning spots. It started very young, as a coping mechanism to deal with some childhood trauma, and it is something that has been a persistent coping mechanism for stress and anxiety for most of over 25 years. 

Although at times I was able to manipulate my hair to cover my spots, there were other times I needed to resort to alternative hair solutions. I was in 8th grade when I had to get my first wig, and on and off throughout the years I continued to wear wigs, wigs for black women, other hair systems and accessories because they not only helped keep me from pulling (and also giving my scalp a chance to regrow hair), but it gave me that confidence I so strongly desired. Not only that, but I was able to change my hair whenever I wanted, and it was fun!

About a year and a half ago I stopped wearing wigs because I was able to gain some control over my trich, and my hair grew out a good amount! I was so happy and confident- my hair has always been my biggest insecurity and the hardest thing for me to control, and in the past I had been bullied pretty horribly for it. I recently wanted to give my hair a change and go from dark brown to blonde, and I sure messed that up (I will never touch bleach again in my life)! My mom’s birthday-who had passed 11 years ago-was the day I had no choice but to shave my head. It was a horrible day that left me feeling incomplete again. Although I was devastated at first, that grief was immediately turned to gratitude when I put my new Jon Renau on my head, and I felt so confident again! With the right one, wigs can make a world of difference.

Wigs have always given me a sense of normalcy, and have provided me with much relief of stress that I don’t have to worry about any visible spots caused by my trichotillomania. I can lead a normal life without worry, and most people have no idea that I’m even wearing a wig! My advice to anyone to has trichotillomania is to not get discouraged. There are ways to help cope with pulling and dealing with triggers, and there are so many hair alternatives that can help with confidence - wigs are a saving grace! 

21 comments

  • Rebekah : October 29, 2018

    I also have Trich… It started with lashes, brows, then my head. I am 38 years old and still dealing with this. I still pull my brows and have to draw them on and I also have to purchase a Jon Renau wig again this year. In my early 20s I stopped for a while. I got married now have two children and a career. My family and only a few close friends know of my condition. I struggle daily not to pull. Yes as a child I was bullied and molested. I also deal with ocd. It’s a constant struggle. I also didn’t know that there is many like me out in the world. I love my Jon Renau wigs. No one can guess that I wear a wig. I really just wish that they would last longer then a year as they are really expensive. The one I have right now is a year old and missing hair from all the washing and brushing over the year. Wearing his wigs gives me confidence and assurance of how beautiful I can be.

  • Melissa : October 26, 2018

    I started pulling at 15 years old. I’m now 42. Sometimes it’s worse than other times. I had some major stressors this year that lead to one of the worst times it’s ever been. I shaved my head, and thankfully there are lots of cute wigs out there. I also started taking 2400mg of NAC with Vitamin C every day and it seems to be helping to lessen the urge to pull. Hopefully I can stop shaving my head soon and see what happens.

  • Toni Epstein: October 25, 2018

    I started pulling out my hair at the crown when I was around 12. I was able to stop when I was in my early 20’s. I don’t know what made me stop, but it was a conscious step for me. I think it was brought on from stress. The ironical thing was that my thyroid stopped working when I was 36 and pregnant with my son. As it turns out, I became bald anyway with Alphecca starting at 55. I am now 71 and have only a little patch on the back of my head down low. I can’t tell you the number of times I have been called Sir. I have eventually become comfortable with wearing wigs only when I feel like it. I do it when I am coming in contact with strangers because people get upset when they think I have cancer. That then upsets me. We are all on a journey. The most important thing is that we love ourselves and help others to feel the same way,

  • Linda: October 25, 2018

    I too have trich. I started pulling my hair around the age of 12 or 13. I have had it under control now for almost 24 years. I am in therapy for this and other issues that I am dealing with at this time. I got my hair cut short once my hair grew back and gained back my confidence. I am almost 60 and it is good to know that there are others who suffer from this. Stay strong and positive. Remember we are all beautiful. Thanks for sharing this story as I can relate to this.

  • Renée : October 25, 2018

    Hello all,
    Yes, I, too, have trichotillomania. Have since I was about 9. I’m now 62. You can do the math 😃
    It took a long time before I had a word for this coping mechanism. That helped. There is a huge group in California that have rallied for years around this dis-order. I highly recommend them. They also can link you to others who share trich tendencies.
    I remember the first person I met who also pulled. It was sooooooooo liberating! We could finish each others sentences!
    I became a prof in health education (although reading and writing, that is, sitting still, is when I pull) and started my classes talking about my trich. Suffice to say so many came forward with similar struggles. It took a long time to be able to speak about it. The self esteem issue for a woman (can’t speak for men) without hair is very hard to explain until it happens to you. Unfortunately people with cancer have to face this as well. However, like some have said above, they didn’t do it to themselves. The blame game is as bad as the hair loss. One beats oneself up compounding the shame and pain.
    Yet, we survive. I have developed such compassion for others struggles as a result of trich. No, don’t get me wrong, I wish I never had it, but it has taught me a great deal. I even feel close to you now because of it. 😃
    These coping mechanisms are so complex. I would wager you are all highly sensitive, caring, smart resilient people. Proud to be with you.
    I recently heard a great concept I wish for us all “self compassion”.
    Thanks for sharing.
    And thanks to wig.com for bringing forward this important discussion.

  • JC: October 25, 2018

    I feel every moment of all your pain. I have suffered from Trich since an early age. Plenty of childhood trauma, but also OCD in different forms, once of which was Trich. I have never felt normal and the energy it takes to appear normal is very taxing and has led to great anxiety in my adult life. I was lucky to find a caring, loving, understanding husband who loves me no matter what, but it took me 10 years of marriage to tell him. I started wearing wigs at that point and was never able to find anything that worked, which led to more feelings of physical inadequacy. I do not think I will ever have control over this, but I am happy to report that I finally found a wig that makes me look and feel normal. I’ll never feel free, but it’s pretty close. Now I just have to love 10 pounds!! It’s never easy, ladies!

  • Julia: October 25, 2018

    I am so inspired by everyone’s stories. Mine is very similar. I wear wigs with confidence. My Trich started in 2nd grade. I was bullied as a kid relentlessly. With all that, I managed to grow up, fall in love, got married, had 2 kids and a successful career but NoOne except my immediate family knows. I totally accepted the fact that this is who I am at 35 but still live with my secret.

  • Lee: October 25, 2018

    I am an Australian customer who has suffered with this debilitating problem since I was 8. At the age of 35 the writing was on the wall as far as my hair surviving. After clippering to number one and bleaching for nearly a year I decided to take control and buy a wig. Trich has impacted on my life in relation to my self esteem. Life choices with education and employment and my relationships with men. I am happy to say with the help of a wonderful psychiatrist for nearly twenty years, I no longer hate myself and accept this is apart of who I am. It is so liberating to have the comfort of wearing a wig and not feeling you are being judged or stared out. At 61, meeting a man would be great! To all the ladies out there – love and be kind to yourself. Trich is part of you, but does not define you.

  • Anonymous: October 25, 2018

    Thanks for sharing. I have trich since I am 8 years old. I started wearing wigs in university. However I pull hairs from wig also. Expensive and discouraging.

  • twingirl71: October 24, 2018

    I’m also a sufferer of trich. It started with my lashes, then brows, then hair. I am bald due to the pulling. The urge to pull is beyond control. I love that all you women are sharing your stories. Thank you! Remember that you are beautiful no matter what!

  • DAWN ARROYO: October 24, 2018

    I’ve been pulling my hair since 6th grade…I’m 48 now… I routinely buzz everything off in a scorched earth response to the damage I do…. I was able to take some control of it for awhile, but not now… I am so grateful for the opportunity to still feel beautiful through wigs.com I wish I wasn’t the way I am…but this is not going away any time soon… I continue to work on it, but I am able to still be a person in the meantime… As a Nurse, I respect all of our journeys…spoken and unspoken….

  • Dianna L Callen: October 24, 2018

    I too suffer from trichotillomania, since I was 10 years old. I am now close to bring 61 years old.
    No one I mean no one knows.
    I have gotten the courage to tell you all.
    I was sexually abused by my own father. It all started that year I turned 10.
    My own mother never knew, never even had a clue that this was happening to her oldest daughter.
    My nerves were so raw, the only thing that got me through was pulling.
    It has wrecked my life.
    I have been a wig wearer since 1976.
    The ones from the wigs.com. are a life saver.
    I feel my hair it’s self will never come back. I think my scalp has scarring.
    To this day. I have never told a living soul.
    Maybe after this is on your blog.
    I may find the strength to tell my family and my closest friends.
    Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share this, with others who understand.
    My parents are both deceased now.
    May with God’s help I can heal and
    move on.

  • lou: October 24, 2018

    You are a brave girl, and an inspiring one.

  • Lisa mayer: October 24, 2018

    Reading the comments on others who struggle with such an awful trichotiania made me cry as I have had it for 44 years I wish there were more light she’d on it. I’ve been ashamed of myself all my life.

  • Paula: October 24, 2018

    Thank you for sharing your story. I feel like I could have written this myself. I have struggled with trich for about 20 years now, and it has never gotten any easier. I have gone back and forth with having to wear wigs over the years and although I feel like a failure every time I shave my head, I do like that wigs give me confidence. I don’t have the constant worry of “is there a bald spot showing?” or the horror of seeing a picture of myself where my hair is clearly not parting the right way. When someone compliments my hair I say “you can have it too!” and casually tell them it’s a wig. If they want to know why I wear a wig then I am getting much more comfortable with telling them about trich. It raises awareness and you never know who you are helping.

  • I love wigs!: October 24, 2018

    I, too, am a hair puller. No one, and I mean NO ONE, knows this is what actually happens to my hair, or lack there of. I use my excuses of “I had gastric bypass surgery, and this is one of the horrible side effects” or “I used a banana clip hair piece and pulled it too tight for too long, and this is why I have a big bald spot in the back of my hair”. Hey, at least I have plausible excuses, right ladies?? My life with trich started at some point in grade school; I can pinpoint it to at least 7th grade. I think I substituted it for sucking my finger. I’m not sure, but the timeline fits. I’m now 63 years old. I will never stop pulling my hair. I know this. It really did get worse after my gastric bypass in 2008, and I really did create a bigger bald spot using the clip in hair piece, but the continual hair pulling surely did not help my situation, either. Linda, PLEASE, go get your colonoscopy! I got mine and still had my wig on!! :-) No one ever knew! Telling my story hasn’t released any guilt I feel, but at least I’ve actually told my story. Hang in there, ladies, and let’s all thank Wigs.com for providing us with gorgeous alternatives!

  • Cydney Capell: October 24, 2018

    I, too, have suffered from this condition since I was a teenager. I thought I was crazy until I caught an episode on Oprah and learned I had trichitillomania. I was able to find a behavioral psychologist who worked with OCD patients and he was a miracle worker. His first requirement was that I tell my closest friends, which was terrifying! Guess what? They didn’t judge me at all. My favorite phrase became—hair is overrated. There are support groups in some cities as well.

  • anonymous: October 24, 2018

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. Our stories are incredibly similar and I’m super inspired by your story. I have trich (pulled my hair at the crown and hairline) and had to completely buzz my head about 7 years ago. I too resorted to wearing wigs to cover my damage and struggled through setback after setback which did a huge number on my self-confidence.

    I’m 30 years old hand have been bullied relentlessly for wearing a wig. About a year ago I found the courage to share my story on my facebook page and was blown away by the support and love that outpoured towards me. I’ve had my pulling under control for about 2 years now and am probably 3 or so months away from being able to go wig-free.

    For anyone out there who may be reading this just know that you are beautiful and there is nothing “wrong” with you! True, there is no cure for Trich but it CAN get better with the right support system, treatment, and a ton of self-love.

  • Kimberly Nitz: October 24, 2018

    I just want to respond to the person that calls herself " one sick puppy" , You Are Not One Sick Puppy" there is so many more people in the world that has this, u are Not the only one. So plz plz don’t feel ashamed! U have a hard time with anxiety or smthng and thats how u cope. Therapy can help. And I too have this issue to an extent. I dont think mine is completely to do with anxiety or anything but I just want u to know, ur not alone in this, and my heart goes out for u. Plz don’t be ashamed! Will pray for u. :)

  • Amanda: October 24, 2018

    I too suffer from Trich. I have been battling it for about 16 years now. I wore a wig about 10 years ago, was able to grow my hair out some to have a buzz cut for many years. Then I started to cover my patches with a color spray. That got to be too messy, so I started wearing a ball cap or wig. Living with Trich is a constant battle. I know how bad I want to have “normal” hair, but the urges are usually too powerful to not pull.

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