Update on my hair (trich update)

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Mattsmom277, Jun 27, 2011.

  1. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Hi all. It's been quite a while since early winter when I posted about getting hair extensions to curb my trichotillomania (for those who haven't read that post or don't know about trich, it's a anxiety related problem where one self soothes via hair pulling, for me it started when I was about 11 years old and have had it under control much of my adult life with a few short periods of high stress where I'd start mildly again, however for about a year I was pulling all the time and had shredded my waist length hair and had many bald spots etc. Humiliating!). Anyhow, I did have the beautiful (and so incredibly expensive!!!) extensions put in, my natural hair color and texture and back to the normal length of 3/4's of the way down my back.

    Well it did the job I hoped it would, leaving me unable to get at the roots of my hair strands to pull on them and fiddle with them, and my thin and bald spots were able to fill in. So I ended up removing the extensions after a couple of months. They hurt my head over time as they grew out and I was unwilling to spend hundreds to have them touched up and redone. I then had a "scrappy do" for a while, with various lengths of hair, thankfully mostly (if not all) long enough to hide the horrid bald spots etc. I then had my hair cut into a short pixie sort of cut and it is now growing out.

    I'm happy to say that although I catch myself plucking at my head from time to time, I have it well in hand now and the times I catch myself lessen each week. My hair is once again getting full and thick (I have super super crazy thick hair, lucky for me given my anxiety driven compulsion - that I'll never understand myself even - akin to biting nails I suppose but this habit destroys your pride and appearance).

    Just thought I'd post an update for you all seeing as you were all so wonderful when I brought this up back when I was looking for courage to go to a hairdresser for help, exposing my secret hair pulling and the state of my poor locks! I just had a big smile and came to post this update, my S/O having said to me a few minutes ago how pretty my hair looked today (I've styled it different and used a hair band etc). I could see how happy HE was just being able to say that and not be lying to make me feel better ;). He's been a champ who always makes me feel beautiful (and not CRAZIER THAN A BEDBUG for destroying my hair, my favorite thing about my appearance). But I could see how delighted he was to say he loved my hair today. He wanted me to get hold of the problem so much, for my own sake. He catches me periodically wanting to pull on a hair and he'll do this goofy voice, tsk tsk his finger at me and say "love scoldings" and we crack up (the voice and face he makes is classic comedy). I felt so good to have him say how pretty he thinks it is given the fact the poor sap has had to go from seeing my long thick gorgeous hair which was a huge thing that he was attracted to me for, to a half scalped woman who took to wearing hats to avoid tears looking in the mirror. Gosh I lub him :)

    As for me, I didn't know if I COULD get it back under control. And here I am :) Just wanted to share and say thank you all again for listening to me back then go on and on about it. I was truly feeling so ugly and unfeminine and confused as to what the heck is wrong with me that I don't even know I'm doing it and next you know sections of hair were all but gone. The other upside, it's lovely having short hair with my neck bare with the summer heat encroaching. I think I'll buy some short hair accessories and some more products and start playing round with it. I'm thinking perhaps I won't grow it back out at all. Kind of enjoying the shortness!
  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Sometimes short is better! M, do you think the trich could be in anyway tied to the MS? Maybe neurologically in someway? Just wondering. Though I do bite my fingernails and sometimes I pick at my cuticles until they bleed, that is the only thing I can come close to thinking it would be like.

    Anyway...Im glad you got it pretty much under control and can now play around with hairstyles again. Maybe get some of those washout colored dye pens and go bold! lol.
  3. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Colored dye pens? They make such things? Where would I buy them? I once had hair short, and loved it. That summer I had a couple of chunks of hair in the front done in a bright red and it looked fantastic with my dark black hair. I'll have to try to find what you are talking about!!

    I don't think its related at all to MS Janet. I've had this problem since I was about 11 years old, about the time I moved to my fathers for just about a year. Came home with acute anxiety which I'd never had and have dealt with off/on ever since, and went from a thin and healthy girl to gaining 75 lbs in a year by soothing via food. It's definitely a anxiety thing and its so strange because there is so much research on it and I've done the doctor thing several times and really, it's not something easily treated although if you can afford behavior therapy it can help I'm told. Anti-anxiety medications can help hugely, although when I'm not experiencing periods of actual anxiety attacks, I don't take medications and don't want to take them just for the hair pulling them. I guess I'm just grateful that I've only a couple of times ever done a major amount of damage to my hair overall. And many years can go by at a time where I don't do it at all. This past couple years have been doozies in some ways, while so many areas of my life calmed and improved (yay!) other things cropped up like meeting my sister. It was wonderful to finally meet her but with it came resurrection of concerns for her safety around our father, fear for his community and old angers etc. So I guess although I've done good anxiety attack wise, they aren't back, occur very rarely, it seems the anxiety needed release in some way and there I was pulling my hair again. I have to say I have no clue why now that all of this court stuff re: my father has been started I somehow am able to stop from continuing to pull. I'd have thought now would be a difficult time for me and that I'd be MORE prone to pulling. But with anxiety related issues I guess there isn't always rhyme or reason.
  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Maybe you have found another way to release the anxiety that isnt on your hair? Are you doing something else like cleaning or drawing or crocheting or whatever?
  5. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Last time I went through this (never did destroy my head like this time though) I took up toll painting on clay pots, wooden treasure boxes, glass jars etc. And I think it helped a lot. I haven't added anything new in really that I can think of. I did get my ipod for Christmas though and I have taken to having it nearby me when I'm in the living room and am hopelessly addicted to a stupid game app lol. Maybe that's helping, at least I know I can't pull my hair when both hands are needed to use my ipod. I never thought about it but I bet its helping more than I thought! I also never run out of books to read like I used to. Having a ereader now, I never have to worry about running out of things to read and as an avid reader I find myself reading even more now. Maybe I'm just injecting some Zen into my world or something lol. I have noticed that without difficult child chaos in recent years, without my wingy mother and difficult child brother in our lives, I don't have that daily stressed out feeling. Perhaps it allows me now to store up reserves for stressful things such as the pending arrest of my father since day to day my life is near to tranquil??
  6. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    That really could be it. Less daily stress leaves a bit more in reserve for major impacts.
  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I think the fact that it started after you lived with your father is very telling. Maybe the improvement now is partly due to the ereader and ipod games, but largely due to the fact that you have taken action against your father via the deposition and talking about it with your family? Maybe having gone through that has partly dealt with the reason it began and that is lessening its' grip on you? Of course keeping your hands busy helps a great deal, doesn't it? One reason I cannot sit and watch tv with nothing to do is that my feet always itch and the skin peels off in big sheets. If my hands are busy they don't pick at them. It is part of the psoriasis/psoriatic arthritis and they will peel with-o my hands helping but not usually as bad now. When they peel it is like walking on glass shards every step - and the docs wonder why I don't want to walk for miles. Hmmmmm let me think.....? Idiots.

    Anyway, I am so glad you are enjoying short hair. Go to a beauty supply store nad explore what they have in temp hair color. It is pretty easy to do just sections. Or many stores sell tubes with wands like mascara wands that are for your hair. Those won't do much on black hair though. You may have to bleach the color out to get a color to really stand out, but a temp all over wash of red or lavendar or whatever can be fun. You can also get hair gel that is colored and shows on many hair colors - it comes in wild colors. For a long time I had about six diff colors around for the kids to play with. As long as they were not sitting on the furniture or bedding I didn't care. The color would come off if put on too thick and stain fabrics. And of course the kids put it on too thick! But to wash it out took a fairly strong shampoo. We started wtih the one sold by the co that made the gels, but found that prell or pert worked just fine and much cheaper. Or two washes with suave daily clarifying shampoo.

    We have an awesome picture of the kids, husband and I and my mother with that stuff getting our hair to do wild things. It is pretty amazing.

    Since you have the thick thick hair (I do too), at least get some reg hair gel and rub it through and the stand with your head hanging down and blow dry your hair - the goal is to get it to all stand up straight away from your head. I used to delight my kids with that when I had short hair. I did it in college (lived in Austin and it was considered tame at the time) and it was a lot of fun. It is easy and not hard to wash out.

    I am glad you feel pretty again - that is so important to feeling good about yourself!
  8. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Thanks Susie. I am going to enjoy it :). I'm definitely going to look into some funky hair color options next time I'm out and about. I will never bleach my black hair, it would feel such a betrayal to my hair lol. But the red chunks I had put in were those "fun colors" that were super bright, so the red showed without bleach. I'll have to hunt to find nifty products to work on black hair. It would also perhaps hide the whites that I just wish would have held off a few more years ;).

    I hadn't thought of the trich that way although by the time I was 20 or so I had readily identified the trigger as the period of time living with my father. The weight gain as well and in 2006 when I had gastric bypass it was after several years of intense work on my inner demons so to speak, regarding that period of my life. I finally felt able to overcome my horrid over eating habits and stop using food as a balm for my raw emotions. By working through so many issues that had kept me "down" re: Him, I was ready to lose that cloak of weight and it was only then that I knew I was a good candidate for that surgery. So you may have something there with that theory re: the trich. I had never had easy prior to age 11, living with my un diagnosis bipolar mother who was prone to mania and hallucinations etc so anxiety I'm sure was always a part of my life. But until that period at my fathers house, nothing like this exhibited in my behaviors. You've given me good food for thought here and I thank you. I knew the pulling was related initially but I never thought of it in the sense that perhaps now that last coping crutch for anxiety might be stripped away and unneeded now that it seems certain his life is about to be spent in prison until his last days. Hmmm. Well my hair would certainly be grateful!
  9. Estherfromjerusalem

    Estherfromjerusalem Well-Known Member

    Trich is very very hard to control. I went to a support group that I saw advertised, for a few meetings, but it didn't help. My very earliest memory is connected with trich, at the age of four. And I'm not aware of feeling anxiety at that time of my life. In fact, with hindsight I think I felt very secure. Since my grandparents were all killed in the Holocaust, my parents did everything they could to provide me and my two sisters with as normal a life as possible. We were poor, but happy. At least, that's what it seems to me now looking back. But maybe I felt the tensions without being consciously aware of them. Because with hindsight now, I realise that my mother was depressed more or less all her life, until her sixties. But then, it's logical. She missed her parents and the life she had left behind. That's the only explanation I can find for feeling anxiety. My little sister bit her nails, and sucked her thumb, well into her adulthood. I think she stopped sucking her thumb after her second child was born (!!!). My older sister picked at the skin around her nails. My mother bit her nails too -- she only stopped that when she was on oxygen in the hospital, when she couldn't bite anything. And then suddenly she had nails. It was funny, we had a good laugh about that. And when she came out of hospital she didn't got back to biting her nails so for the last year or so of her life she had lovely nails! Medical science puts nail-biting and hair-pulling into the same category of disorders. It's a disorder. Oh boy, maybe my difficult child's ODD is a disorder inherited from my disorder.!!!! Just joking.

    I still pull my hair out. Less than before, but I do. I think I have weakened my hair, because I used to have lovely thick hair, and now it is thin and horrible. Maybe it's age-related too. I don't know. It is depressing not to have a lovely head of hair, and I truly understand Mattsmom. It is wonderful that you have managed to re-grow it so well and so thick. I am envious. Still, you are so much younger than I am. Good for you, I'm happy for you.

    Love, Esther
  10. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Esther, I am guessing that in spite of the love lavished on you and your sisters, that it would be hard to avoid having emotions about the Holocaust as it would have been for your parents as well. I think that our brains just somehow latch onto a coping technique and doesn't always send us a memo on what is making us do something but over time it becomes something that becomes a resort when under pressure and stress etc. Ironically though, some of the best periods of my life I was madly pulling while some of the most stressful times my hair was lovely and full and the idea to pull never crossed my mind.

    I'm sorry that your hair is weaked and thinned out. I think with repetitive pulling over years and then decades, we do damage that can't be undone. I have noticed that this time around, some hair is growing back very fine (the individual strands). Also, I have always had bone straight hair unless I had a perm done at the hairdresser. This time, one of the worst periods of trich where I did real damage all over, my hair is NOT growing in straight. Although some hair is more fine, much of it after the first inch of new growth is thick again so next trim the fine ends should be gone for the most part. But my hair is wavy in sections and even curly in some spots. Everyone keeps commenting how the sheer weight of my thick hair when it was long must have pulled it all down and kept it straight. Incorrect. The few times I've cut it short it was always bone straight, which I enjoyed as you can get some great short hair styles with straight hair but its much harder with curls. So I think for sure our hair can grow back differently over time, perhaps due to repeated damage to the same follicles.

    You know I was into my 20's when I noticed during a visit to my aunt (now passed) that she was pulling her hair out! It was unreal to see someone else do what I thought I was the only person doing. We had long talks about it and in fact it is when I first heard of the term Trich. Oddly, my easy child never knew I had trich. Somehow I wasn't pulling near her and protective of getting seen by others. Yet last year she pulled her eyelashes out to where one lid was half gone and the other nearly as bad. She finally broke down crying and told me what she had been doing and that she didn't understand it etc. I tried to talk to her about it but didn't want to tell her about trich or about me, shame can be such a burden can't it? Finally a week or so later I found out from her that her dad, without talking to me or doing any reading or talking to a doctor, told her she must be "self harming" and that he was worried she would turn to "cutting" as it is typical self harming behavior. I was livid!!! So I sat down my easy child and told her NO she is NOT self harming and NO she wasn't going to start "cutting" simply because of what was happening with her eye lashes. I explained trich and that it comes from anxiety and that I had it. I explained what I did over the years to cope and how I was at that time with it and my goals for myself to end this. She and I made a pact. She would NOT pull on her eyelashes and I would NOT be pulling out my hair. And when I had a full head of hair, no thin or bald spots and she had her eyelashes back, we'd go spend a girly weekend somewhere at a spa or just a nice hotel with a good restaurant and pool etc as a reward to ourselves for helping each other get through it. I am so happy to say that once identified as not being "weird" and not being "Crazy", easy child has not plucked a single eye lash since and tells me she has no more urge. She said for her it was enough to know WHY she was doing it and that she could find other ways to cope with anxiety now that she knew the cause. Mind you it took a few weeks with some bumps for her to get herself to that place. She did it at night when falling asleep in bed. We set up a sort of "code" so that Matt and my S/O wouldn't know about it. She was allowed out of bed to ask me for another "Hug goodnight" which was code for I'm Plucking - Stop Me! I would then go tuck her in and wrap her caccoon like in her blankets with her hands wrapped in the blanket as well and she did go back to sleeping with a stuffed toy which she'd given up years before, at least on the nights she wanted to do something with her hands other than pull. So she sleeps now with a Farley dog from the Better or For Worse comics. He's scruffy and hairy so she can play with the hair on the toy a bit and fluff it etc as she's falling asleep. It all worked well and we are planning our girls weekend sometime toward the end of the summer once S/O is back to work and income has improved.
  11. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Not speculating on causes or cures for you, just dropping in to say I'm happy for you and I hope you're able to enjoy luxy locks for the rest of your days. :)
  12. Estherfromjerusalem

    Estherfromjerusalem Well-Known Member

    Well, Mattsmom, that is fascinating, and wonderful how you dealt with it with your easy child. When I went to that support group, the girl who started it told us that her husband plucked his eyelashes too, so they both had trich. Do you know, it's not only actually pulling out the hair that is trich. If you look around you, you will see a lot of people who obsessively touch their hair, taking hold of a strand and stroking it, or something like that. I often see women drivers at traffic lights who do that, or women on the bus. That is also a part of trich. For people who pull it out, apparently it is the tension of knowing you are going to pull out a hair and that it will hurt, and then doing it and releasing the tension. Yes, I think it is related to cutting and self-harm. I understand that there is some sort of medication for releasing the tension. I think it is also related to depression. Oh well, too much to think about there.

    Fascinating topic (for me).

    Love, Esther
  13. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Fascinating for me too Esther. From the research I've read I've been under the impression that people with trich don't normally self harm in other ways such as cutting etc. I'll have to investigate that again, just for pure curiousity. On the other hand, I don't approve of my easy child's dad telling her upon first hearing her come to him to tell him what was happening to her, that it will lead to cutting if she's not careful etc. She was so freaked out hearing that and it turns out she hid it from me for days after that because she was afraid I'd think she was going to hurt herself in a dangerous way when the thought had never crossed her mind. Her dad knew about my trich from when we were together so I found it odd he wouldn't either read and refresh his knowledge or call me and discuss it and at the least, let me know she'd come to him and told him she was doing this (neither of us knew until she came to us, I'm so grateful she always does come to us!). Anyhow, for now all is well with her and her eyelashes and I'm crossing fingers it stays that way.

    i do notice others often touching their hair etc. Totally unrelated to trich but a different form of anxiety based repetitive actions, S/O chews on the inside of his cheek beside his mouth. Sometimes until its raw. He's been working to stop it while I'm stopping with my hair. He never noticed he was doing it so much until he started comparing it to my hair issues, and the light bulb went off that he was doing it in response to anxiety he didn't even know he was experiencing. The mind guides us to all kinds of methods of anxiety relief doesn't it?