“Will People Not Like Me If They Know I Pull Out My Hair?”
Growing up with trichotillomania, I was convinced that people would not like me if I told them about my hair-pulling disorder.
I had no experiences telling me that this was the case, and yet I believed it to be gospel.
I assumed I would lose friends and acquaintances. Family members would never look at me the same way.
This belief kept me from sharing my trichotillomania with people for years. For the first 18 years of having trichotillomania, I can count on two hands the number of people I told about my disorder, and that includes family.
Why Didn’t I Tell Anyone About My Trichotillomania?
Trichotillomania can be a very isolating disorder. What’s worse - we, as trichsters, often do a lot of the isolating. This disorder is not as uncommon as most people think. And yet, many trichsters go years, if not decades, without meeting anyone else who openly speaks about their disorder.
I was one of those trichsters. I would complain that I was alone. Only I understood how difficult this was. Only I knew what the pain of having a hair-pulling disorder was like. And yet, I didn’t tell anyone about it. I internalized everything and assumed that by sharing my disorder with others I would be ostracized. Funny to think now that I was doing post of the isolation by not being honest with those close to me about a very important part of my life.
I didn’t like myself for having trichotillomania. I wrongfully assumed that everyone around me would be an equally harsh judge. We are often our harshest critics. We’ll judge ourselves so much harsher than we would ever judge a friend, a loved one, or even a stranger. That was what kept me back from letting go of all this internalized pain from years of hair pulling.
I Was Wrong
At the age of 23, after 19 years of pulling out my hair, I made the decision to start sharing with people that I live with a hair-pulling disorder. I was not met with anger or negativity; I was met with love. It felt like so many people in my life were coming out of the woodworks to send me support or share their trichotillomania or BFRB story with me.
The statistics are not lying. Hair-pulling and other Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors are not as uncommon as we often believe. You do not have to live alone with your disorder. It took me a long time to get to a place where I was comfortable sharing my experience with others and I needed a lot of little nudges along the way. If you’re like me, and you’re looking for signs around you telling you that it’s ok to share your trichotillomania with others, let this be your sign. IT WILL BE OK.
A few weeks back, I shared my tips for how to tell people about your trichotillomania. You can read that blog post here.
When People Aren’t Supportive
There will always be the naysayers - those people who have something nasty to say and meet you with judgment and criticism. I’ve met a few of those people on my journey. First, it’s important to note that the majority of people in your life will not be naysayers (and if they are, you’re hanging around the wrong people).
When you tell someone you have trichotillomania, they have the right to respond in whatever manner they want. Whether they want some quiet time to process or immediately give you a big hug, that’s up to them. If you find that the person you’re telling is not supportive of you and your trichotillomania, know that is not your fault. Their lack of support and compassion is 100% on them, and not on you.
There are people out there (including me!) who love and support you, with or without your trichotillomania.