5 Lessons Trichotillomania Has Taught Me

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

When I was 8 years old, I started plucking out my eyelashes. It relieved stress, and I liked the feeling of rolling the eyelashes between my fingers. Then, when I was 11, I changed schools, and my eyelash pulling evolved into eyebrow pulling. There were bald spots around my eyes and in my eyebrows. I felt ugly and alone. I was the only one in the world who had this problem.

I only learned the word “trichotillomania” during my first year of university at 19 years old. It had been 11 years that I was struggling with this so-called trichotillomania. I am still struggling with this condition today but am now realizing I am not alone, and all I can do is learn from this disorder. Here are five things trichotillomania has taught me:

1. Patience

There have been moments when I barely had any eyelashes or eyebrows. I really wanted to be beautiful, but I would have to wait. Makeup can cover it, but it doesn’t seem authentic. It could take about one month for them to grow back.

2. Modesty

Once my eyelashes and eyebrows grew back, I finally had a chance to be like everyone else and perhaps feel beautiful. Obviously, those moments didn’t last very long, as my compulsions would take over me again. I had to accept I wasn’t perfect, and that’s OK.

3. Perseverance

I have not given up yet, even though I failed again and again at overcoming this disorder. I have tried nail polish that will be scratched if I press my nails together to pull out any hair, I tried Band Aids on my fingers, gloves, and stress balls. I keep on trying new suggestions, and I have not given up.

4. Self-acceptance

My brain is sick, and that’s OK. In the past I have felt like I was the only one going through this disorder, but my optometrist noticed my lack of eyelashes and said several of her patients have this problem. She sold me a heat pad to put over my eyes and activate my hair follicles.

5. Confidence

I am unique. I have been through a certain set of obstacles in my life that made me a smarter, stronger person. I no longer care what people say of my appearance and just recently when someone noticed and commented on my lack of eyebrows, I told the truth for the first time. I should have done this a long time ago.

Finally I would like to suggest to everyone affected by trichotillomania to treat this disorder like an addiction. You may relapse, and that’s OK. Stopping completely is unrealistic, and don’t be too hard on yourself.

By Emilie Bélanger