In this section, you’ll find my personal story. As you might have guessed, I have dealt with Trich for several years now. I am 17 years old currently, and as you might imagine this is a very tough condition to deal with as a teenager...
Trich affects physical appearance. It can make those who have it feel shame or guilt, or at times alone and isolated. Can you imagine coping with those feelings in addition to being a social teenager, constantly interacting with others? It has truly been a challenge to work through this sensitive experience among my peers.
Well, I’m here to open up and let you in on some truths. Because guess what? If you also have the diagnosis, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! There are an estimated 3% of the U.S. population that have gotten Trich at some point in their lives. And on top of that, it is entirely treatable. I want to dispel the stigma around this condition for the world.
One of the most comforting and therapeutic aspects on my journey with Trich has been the ability to talk about it and know that I am not alone.
My story begins roughly around the 3rd grade. The transition from a small and tight-knit school campus to a much larger one made it difficult to find friends and cope with the change. It may be that this was the trigger for what changed my life. But these were the earliest memories I have of dealing with Trichotillomania. From third grade until 6th grade, the symptoms were relatively minimal and even sometimes nonexistent.
Sixth grade brought a host of new challenges and difficulties, which regressed my condition. Bullying, stress in school, and problems with friends all brought on the perfect storm of full-blown Trich. Sixth grade was the worst time, and it was the first time my parents started to notice something was amiss.
I pull my eyebrows when I’m nervous, and especially my eyelashes. I started to have patches of missing eyelashes and eyebrows, increasing as the weeks went on. My parents noticed, and immediately tried to help as best they could: from taking me to a psychologist and trying to help me learn by reading books about what was going on. However, none of this seemed to help. I felt alone and desperate for answers as to why this was happening to me and why I felt this constant and addictive urge. It got so bad that people in school started to notice as well. “Why don’t you have eyelashes?” or “What happened to your eyebrows?”
It’s hard as a middle schooler to stand out. Friends started to distance themselves because of my appearance, and I suffered from not understanding how I could just stop. But things were about to change for the better…
One day during recess, as I least expected it, a girl a year older than me from math class approached me. She asked me about my eyelashes and I assumed she was going to ask the same questions everyone else did. However, she surprised me and said, “I know what you have because I have it too”. I was shocked, and then relieved.
We proceeded to have a long conversation about her story and she even told me things that had helped her reduce her pulling. Once I left that math classroom I felt feelings of joy, comfort, but most of all relief. I found someone like me and I was no longer so isolated, I did not feel strange and different anymore.
The rest of sixth grade became a little easier and with time I learned to cope and manage to live with my trich. Time has passed since then, I am currently a junior in high school and trich is still as prominent in my life as it was in sixth grade. I know now the journey is never-ending, however manageable. Communication and support are critical…. Talk to your parents, school counselors, or even take a chance on your friends… Embracing the condition has helped me relieve the sense of isolation and shame, thus reducing my overall anxiety.
I have learned to cope and manage it in different ways. I know there will be good days and bad ones. As I’ve grown as a teenager my struggle with this condition has not lessened but I have found a way to grow around it. I am no longer that little girl feeling alone and strange compared to her classmates, but I am embracing my condition and understanding that it is part of me no matter what I do.
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