(Eye)Lashing Out During Allergy Season

I had one New Years resolution for 2018 - to stop pulling my eyelashes. We’re halfway into March, and I can say that allergy season has bested me once again in this battle. 


I can’t remember the last time I’ve had all my eyelashes. They were the first hairs I pulled from when I was four, and they’re still getting pulled two decades later. 


It’s difficult to explain why pulling my eyelashes feels so good. In my experience (and this may vary from one person to another with trichotillomania), the urge to pull from most parts of the body feels like a magnetic force where your brain is saying “pull those hairs” and those hairs are saying “pull me.” Eyelashes aren’t like that for me. The urge to pull an eyelash can best be equated to having an itch that only pulling out an eyelash (or eyelashes) can scratch.


I had done a good job of growing out my eyelashes and resisting any urges for pulling in the Fall and early Winter of 2017, so I thought growing out all of my eyelashes in 2018 would be easy. As long as they were all grown in at one time, I wouldn’t bother for the rest of the year if I ended up pulling out a couple eyelashes here and there. I actually started my New Years resolution in early December thinking this would be my easiest resolution to date.


And then allergy season came to New Orleans…


If the urge of pulling out my eyelashes feels like an itch waiting to be scratched, then actual itches from allergies are my eyelashes worst chance of survival. Needless, to say my entire top row of eyelashes (except for a few that are holding on for dear life) were all gone in 3 days.


Yes, I’m disappointed, but after 20 years of hair pulling, this isn’t my first run-in with not achieving my goals for hair growth. There’s still hope for 2018 - after all, we’re only in March. The fact that I was able to see so much improvement during the first couple months of the year gives me hope that I will achieve my goal in 2018.


I want to end by sharing a photo of me in 1999. 


A lot of my childhood photos look like this - thin eyebrows, a sparse hairline, and no eyelashes. I once had two copies of this very photograph. One night when I was 14, I sent this photo to my best friend along with a letter crying over the fact that I desperately wanted to stop pulling my hair. I even wrote something like “you can keep the picture - they all look like this one.”


This is a photo of me 2 days ago - no eyelashes and no makeup. I used to wish for hair like everyone else around me. But today, I strive to be the person I needed then - to love and accept my hair whether thick or thin or completely gone.