Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I have a confession ...

This has been a post that has been floating around in my head for ages. Certainly more than weeks, definitely months, and honestly, it may have been a year or so ago that I first thought of it.

I'm pretty open here on my blog. I don't have much to hide, and I like to share with my readers when I need to. Mostly because I know that writing things down makes me recognize and face them, which I want to do here.
So, onto my confession.

I have a small obsession. It's probably not that small, really, but when I say it it's going to sound like it's funny. Or like I'm trying to be funny. But for a split second, and bear with me, I'm not.

OK. So, I'm obsessed with my hair.

And I don't mean it in the way that you think. If you know me at all, IRL or through blognia, you know that I am not miss Prim and Proper, and the only haircuts I ever get are at SuperCuts.
Yes, I'm still being serious here.

Anyway, my "obsession" as I am referring to it for a moment, is related to my anxiety. And if you know me at all you know I have loads of that crap.

So, I've been self-diagnosed. I'm qualified, I promise. I am the person that has known myself for 38+ years, and I know me better than most. Trust me on this one.

I believe I have a mild case what is called trichotillomania. The DSM-IV classifies this as an impulse-control disorder. Or in some references you'll hear it referred to as an aspect of OCD (I need not explain what that means, right? It's commonly referred to often enough, I believe).

So what does this mean for me, you ask? Well, I'm glad you have.

If you've never heard of this it's when someone pulls their hair out in various parts of their body. It's either a response to stress, or a behavior that is habitual and comforting, or loads of other official "medical" reasons I won't get into right now. It also can represent when someone tends to pick at their skin, as well. I'm not in that category, but when it comes to my hair/head/scalp, most bets are off.

I'm not one who pulls my hair to the point of having a bald spot, but I could probably create a small wig with the amount of hair I've pulled out when anxiety hits. I honestly don't think I'm pulling it from my scalp, but usually tugging at the random strays that are going to fall out anyway. Now, if you've seen me, you know I have quite the head of hair. And it's still there. The whole lot of it. ;)

But I tend to tug at it when I'm anxious. One of the most noticeable times is when I am a passenger in a vehicle of any sort. So you'll see me roll my window down briefly to toss a small twist of my now free strands out into the universe. See my most recent opening up post prior to this and you'll get that I don't drive. Now you see why I'm anxious when being driven around.

I think it started ages ago, when I had to take the bus to work from Brooklyn to NYC. I would honestly focus on my split ends. This was back in the day when I had WAY longer hair and haircuts were few and even farther between than they are now! I'd pick nearly every split end that the sunlight would shine on before we hit the Battery Tunnel.

And yes, I've gone so far as to become fascinated with an eyelash in my eye and then end up tugging a few too many lashes out. I've also never had my eyebrows waxed, but they're pretty in shape (for the most part) on their own.

So, that's my confession. It's not to the point that it impacts my life to any true extent, and I live with it as though it's just who I am, a habit, maybe? But I felt like I needed to say something. I'm not sure why, exactly, or what prompted me to do so right this instance - but it needed to be done.
I'm not looking for help, or a solution, but just promoting awareness. You never know what people go through on the flip-side of things. You never know when someone is holding in anxiety that could tear them apart if they let it. And you never know what the best way is for someone who isn't you when it comes to dealing with things. So support them. Listen. Just be there. Sometimes that's all anyone really needs.

Thanks for listening/reading, whatever you're doing to take in my point, and for allowing me to use this space to get this little tidbit about me across.


  1. HUGS Mamma! Are you really tugging out your hair... I know that sometimes when I'm stressed my hair falls out at a faster rate so one run of the fingers through it and I've got a small handful... and I don't have a lot of hair to spare.

    Thanks for sharing. These things are never easy.

  2. There are so many ways that people cope. I think anybody who doesn't have something is lying.

    One look at my fingernails says multitudes.

  3. Definitely sounds like a coping method. Hope it gets better ((((hugs))) If it starts to get worse, certainly talk to your doctor. Medication adjustment could help.

  4. Hugs girl, I know this couldn't have been an easy post to write. Putting yourself out there like that isn't always easy!

  5. I know someone who has a daughter with a severe case of this - I'm so glad to know that yours isn't controlling your life! Hope the stress level can come down a bit for you. *hugs*

  6. I don't need to pull mine out, when I'm stressed, it just falls out all on its own. But when my neice was small and her parents were getting divorced, she would pull her eyelashes out, and now she is 21 and has the longest, fullest lashes.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Stopping by from Shell

  7. I didn't know this had a name! 10 years ago, I used to pull my hair out- sounds like you- no bald spots, but it added up to a LOT.

    I sometimes find myself running my fingers through my hair and pulling some out, but I'm able to tell myself to stop now.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  8. My teenage son has been diagnosed with OCD and panic/anxiety disorder so I can empathize. The disorder can show in a wide range of severity and can manifest in many different ways. Each 'ritual' is a comforting mechanism.

    If you haven't sought professional help (and I'm not a doctor, nor play one on TV), it could be helpful to discover the source of your anxiety and less potentially drastic coping skills.

    Anxiety attacks can be devastating and for any one who hasn't experienced that level of panic, simply can't understand.

    Good luck to you. I hope you can find the support you need.

    (Dropping by from PYHO)

  9. But it does sound like you have some control over it-which is a good thing.

    Everyone has something.
    Thanks for sharing.
    stopping by from Shell's PYHO

  10. When I have anxiety my hair falls out on its own. Really. Many years ago, when life was more stressful for me, my hairstylist asked me to consider extensions. Or special shampoo. These days I seem to do okay.

  11. I agree with an above commenter, it sounds like you have some control over it. I have anxiety, so I understand the need to control a situation. (hugs)

  12. I like to pluck my eyebrows. A lot. Strangely enough, it calms me down and I enjoy it. This can turn into very skinny eyebrows, so I've learned to stop myself.

    The nice part is that my husband will let me pluck his- TWO sets of eyebrows to pluck.

    Now THAT'S weird!

  13. Hi! Found you the the RDC weekend links. I, too, pull out hair -- by only my eyebrows. I never suspected anxiety to be the culprit, but alas, it is!

    This was a funny, yet informative post on a serious problem. Thank you!


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