I’m “Going Public” With Hopes of Helping Others With Same Condition
I'm a bit scared to post this blog. But I'm also excited to think that sharing my story may help others who are struggling. Please watch this video. It runs about 3 1/2 minutes. Then if you're interested in knowing more, please continue reading and make note of the websites where you can get more information.
I have a condition that sounds kind of strange: Trichotillomania. It's a compulsion to pull out one's hair. My case is relatively mild in that it's limited to just my eyebrows, but it's been a source of shame and embarrassment for me since I was little. Neighborhood kids made fun of me. And even in college, I heard some ridicule. I've had hair stylists and makeup artists ask why I had only half an eyebrow or why I plucked big gaps in my brows. Through all of that, I remained quiet, wishing I could look "normal" like those people, yet not wanting to talk about this pulling which I hated so much but could not stop.
"Trich" is a condition that affects a lot of people. In addition to eyebrow pullers like me there are people who pull at their eyelashes, leg hair, and head hair.
That video you just watched was recorded last month while I was in Colorado. I was attending a retreat for people like me who suffer from Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs). I spent 4 days with 70 people from all over the U.S. Some even traveled from Canada and England. The retreat was for hair pullers as well as skin pickers and nail biters. (Some people just struggle with one BFRB. Others do pulling AND picking.) We attended workshops led by awesome professionals who have researched this condition. They taught us different stress-management techniques. They helped us see what food and drink may be making our condition worse. We learned some of the science behind this disorder; how it affects our brains and nervous systems. And we did all of this learning and growing in a super supportive environment.
I remember the relief that I felt when I saw a blurb about Trichotillomania in the Ann Landers advice column. It was in the early 90s that I realized that my weird eyebrow habit had a name. (Remember I started pulling in the 70s so that's a long time that I felt all alone with this "strange" urge to pull.) The column offered the address of a place where I could request a brochure about the disorder. The woman who founded that resource center is still passionate about helping pullers and pickers. Her name is Christina Pearson and she runs the Heart and Soul Academy, which organizes retreats, online classes, and other support for sufferers and loved ones. If you're wondering if you have a BFRB, you can set up a free consultation through the Heart and Soul Academy website.
Another excellent resource is The TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors. There you will see that this is BFRB Awareness Week so I'm doing my part to raise awareness by "going public" and sharing my story.
Thank you for taking time to read this and watch the video. Please share this post with anyone who might be struggling. They may be relieved to know they are not alone and that help and support is available.
Follow Lisa's videographer on Instagram: @DASphoto