I remember my first time. We (my Mother, sister and I) had recently moved. I was sitting in the living room. On the "comfy" chair. I wasn't watching TV. I wasn't doing anything….I just sat down and started pulling out my eyelashes. I have no idea why. I can't remember any details leading up to the physical pulling that day. I pulled and pulled and pulled them out. I would rub them between my fingertips. I liked how they felt. Then I set them down. I collected them. Put them all on the arm of the chair. Lots of them. It was a growing little pile. And then, when I was done, I got a sandwich bag, and I put them all in a sandwich bag. That is where my memory of that first time ends. I must have saved the bag, but for how long I don't know.
What is "trich" you ask? Well, it's Trichotillomania and the dictionary defines it as "a compulsion to pull out ones hair." I have also read other "definitions" such as:
"Trichotillomania is a rare psychological disorder in which people have the strong compulsion to pull out their hair. It is an impulse control disorder that can involve pulling hair from the scalp and also from various other parts of the body such as eyebrows and eyelashes."
I have also read "it is a stress onset obsessive compulsive related disorder" (insert pull your own hair here)
Some people pull hair from their head. (I have never done this, or had the urge to). Some people pull only from either their eyelashes or eyebrows. I pull both. Some people eat the hair. (I have never done this, or had the urge to). Its the feeling of the hair. Its thicker….longer. And it feels GOOD when you pull it out. The best way I have come to explain it (to people that are usually looking at me like I have two heads) is that it is like scratching an itch. You know what I'm talking about…that itch - in the middle of your back - that you CAN'T reach..and then…you get someone to scratch it for you and you're like, "Ahhhhhhhh!!!" That is what it is like. It feels good. It is a "pleasure". Oh but that pleasure doesn't last long. It's followed with immediate shame and guilt. I hate that I do it. I hate that it has control over me.
I had the thickest, longest, darkest eyelashes. I remember getting compliments on them. I remember. There is still a picture of me on my parents refrigerator. Man…They were amazing. And my eyebrows--the same way. (I would have had to do something about that as an older version of myself. There would have been some waxing, some threading, something…cause that just wouldn't have worked out). But…I suppose I took care of that myself. By getting rid of them all.
At school, I would use my eraser. It gave a better grip on the hair. My fingertips would hurt because of the pressure of squeezing my thumb on the eraser. I would still make little piles on my desk. I would still rub each eyelash in my fingertips. When I was "done" I would blow them all away. Eventually, it was really noticeable. So, I wore bangs. To cover up my eyebrows so you couldn't see the patches. I did this (wear bangs) all into my adult years (on and off). My parents, if they noticed, never said anything. The only person that ever confronted me on what I was doing was my Fourth Grade teacher, Mrs Fechtner. She would tell me, right there in the middle of class, to stop. So then I had to try to hide it. To try and do it when she wasn't looking. Because I HAD to do it. I couldn't stop. Thinking back, I wonder if she knew this was "a thing" and was trying to help me. (I had no idea it was "a thing" at this point…more on that in a future post). I wonder if she talked to my parents about it. If she did, again, they never did anything. I wonder to this day, if someone-my PARENTS-had DONE something, if I could have been treated early. But I wasn't.