My "Trichy" Secret : Part 1

I told you all last week that one of my goals for the New Year is to share something that I am ashamed of. We all have things that we prefer to keep hidden from the knowledge of others. In some cases, hiding a secret is the best decision you can make. On the other hand, I've found that holding something in can actually cause you to be harder on yourself. When we keep something boxed up, we begin to believe that we are the only person in the world who deals with whatever it is. This makes us feel weird in a very negative way. Feeling this way is what ultimately leads to shame, and that shame only strengthens over time.

So, here I am today, about to pour my heart out on the internet. Despite the encouragement that has led to my decision to write this post, I'm still questioning myself. Why am I still going to hit publish then?  Maybe I'm just sick of holding it in. Maybe I feel like telling is the only way that I'm ever going to really accept and completely come to terms with it. Maybe I'm hoping that my story can help others who may secretly be going through the same thing. Maybe I've just finally realized that we all have our demons and they just come in different forms for each individual. No matter the reason, one thing is for sure...I'm ready to do this, and I have faith that it will all be okay.

What if I told you that a significant portion of my head used to be bald? What if I told you that
 I wasn't balding because I had a terminal disease, but instead because I was inflicting the baldness upon myself? What would you think?

Regardless of what came to your mind when I asked you those questions, here are the facts. I used to (and still have to fight not to) pull the hair out of my head, strand by strand. I know what you are thinking. You're wondering...why in the world would you do that? Here's the thing...I can't answer that. I honestly can't tell you why, because I don't even know myself. What I do know though, is I legitimately couldn't, and occasionally still cannot, help it. In the beginning, it wasn't something I could control at all. Today, I have a thick head of hair, which I'm pretty proud of considering the circumstance. My self control is apparent the majority of the time, but I still have "relapses."

Believe it or not, this condition has a name: trichotillomania. Trichotillomania, also know as the "hair pulling disorder," is defined as "the compulsive urge to pull out one's own hair, leading to noticeable hair loss, distress, and social or functional impairment." Trichotillomania is an impulsive control disorder, which means that the person affected has no ability to stop themselves, even if they try. It is caused by anxiety, and ultimately becomes a form of coping and dealing with stress. Medication or other forms of therapy are usually the only ways to cure a person's trichotillomania.

My "trich" is something that I have literally kept hidden my entire life. Besides my family, there are only three people who know even a little about it. I have known that there are others out there who deal with trich, but I have been so focused on the negative aspects of the condition that I have been too afraid to do any research on other stories and experiences. I have shut the topic out. I haven't wanted to know anything more than I had to. Thinking about it has always brought such an overwhelming sense of embarrassment.

Recently, this has changed. God has shown me that He has other plans for my big secret, and they all started a few weeks ago. I was just browsing blogs like I do every day, and I came across Aunie's blog. I discovered that she too has been affected by trich throughout life. I read every trich-related post and comment on her blog. And you know what? Every bit of her writing, and the feedback on her posts, was positive. She really takes the disorder, and shines a meaningful light on it. I was touched by her experience, and her outlook. I was inspired, and it was interesting to encounter someone who was so open about it, because I have been spending my whole life "in hiding." 

After reading Aunie's blog, I emailed her. I told her my story, and I asked her some questions. Her blog, and her responses to my email made me realize that trich isn't something I have to be ashamed of. It can actually be the complete opposite. My experience can be used to help others who may secretly deal with the same struggle. Not only that, but sharing my experience will help me to forgive myself, and realize that having trich doesn't make me any less of a person.

As you can see, I am taking her advice and preparing to lay all of the cards out on the table. No more shame, no more secrets...just honesty about a disorder that has had control of my life for entirely too long. Over the next couple of days, I'm going to share everything about my journey with trichotillomania with you. I'm going to tell you all about how it began, the effects that it had on my family and I, the bad experiences that resulted from the noticeable hair loss, the attempts to stop, the treatment, how it effects me today...literally everything associated with it. As strange as it sounds, I'm looking forward to sharing. I hope you will be reading along with me. I'll see you all tomorrow with my second installment.

*Part 2 can be found here.*
Kathy @ Vodka and Soda said...

another blogger i follow and love (anna of a dash of quirky blog - http://www.adashofquirky.com/) also blogs about her battle with trich and i love that she has decided it will not control her.

never be ashamed of something you're battling but i get that you want to keep it private. for a long time, i kept my depression hidden but it wasn't until i opened up and was honest about it that i started to heal.

stay strong, M!

Vodka and Soda

The Peanut Program said...

it's good to open up, it gives you more power to control the situation. i was going to refer you to Anna as well but Kathy already did so! She has wrote about this and I think you will find her positive as well.

all the best,

Kelli @She Crab Soup said...

Yayyy you for being so brave! I think blogland is full of supportive people who will understand your condition and support you in any way they can.

I read a blog called A Dash of Quirky and the author Anna has trichotillomania, she started her blog as a way to document her journey trying to control her trichotillomania.

Kelly @ [Big Apple, Little Bites] said...

I was going to ask you if you read Aunie's blog but see you said you've contacted her. She is such an inspiring person. My mom had it mildly too. I never realized how many people this affected until reading Aunie's blog and hearing her story. I agree it's often a relief to share your feelings and challenges :-)

Kiki said...

First of all, I'm sending you a huge virtual hug. :)

Second of all, I wanted to thank you for being such a brave heart, soul, and voice in this blogging world. It's so easy to keep the personal stuff personal but it's when we shed light on our personal side, we form great friendships and relationships with ourselves, others, and Christ! Now if only I remembered this day to day... :)

Lastly, I'm so glad you've had a chance to connect with Aunie! She is such an inspiration and as soon as I started reading this I immediately thought of her. Hooray for finding more blogs to read, right?!

p.s. Your honesty is such an inspiration. You rock, friend!

Stephanie said...

I actually think this is more common than people may believe. I know two people who suffer from this! But, like you, they won't let it control their life. :)

Amy said...

+ so incredibly proud of you for opening up! vulnerability is never easy, and it takes a lot of courage to throw something out into the world, so mad props!

+ I think you'll come to realize that you're not alone within this struggle. while I don't struggle with trich, I went through a season of self-harm and cutting. anxiety, depression, hormones, and life circumstances really do a number on a person, especially if they are in the cuff of adolescence and learning more and more about their bodies (not sure when your trich came on).
<3 you are a brave, brave, soul and I believe sharing this piece of your story will continue to bring freedom from your soul and break some bondage chains!

Nadine Lynn said...

I love that you shared this and I hope that it makes you feel powerful and liberated for sharing! There is no reason to be ashamed of something like this. There are so many people out there battling with something, and reading someone's story can really help them. You got this. It will not control you!

Pleas(e) and Carrots said...

You are so brave! Thank you for sharing this with all of us, I believe in you! Your story could help someone else battling with trich!

Anna @ A Dash of Quirky said...

Wow, Miranda, thank you for sharing your story (and continuing to do so!). Sharing about my own hair pulling over this past year has really started me on a complete new journey. I feel so much less shame now.

I am not cured, nor do I think I ever will be, but I am fighting the battle everyday, which is more than I've ever been able to say before now!

And the fact that you have a gorgeous head of hair means you are well on your way to healing.

I am so glad you emailed me, as well as Aunie. Her blog changed my life late one night when I was searching for answers. To now be able to connect with other bloggers that have and are dealing with the disorder is truly amazing and I am so inspired!!!

Anna @ A Dash of Quirky

Katie McC said...

Miranda, its so brave of you to write this out of the deepness of your heart. I love how you said the other girl on her blog used this to shine a light on the issue and not look at it in a negative way. Sometimes it can be so hard to put things out there, but I know it can only help others and show them the light of Jesus by resting in his comfort.

The Rachael Way said...

Don't ever be embarrassed about something like this. You know about my struggle with depression and opening it up has always helped me. <3

Aunie said...

Miranda, I'm SO PROUD OF YOU. Your writing is effortless on this. You can tell how much you really want to help the trich community and others who feel desperate and alone. I am so, so proud of you for running after this with your whole heart and fully going into detail. You will never know everyone who you will reach, and this is just the start of a beautiful journey. Congrats!

And PS> thank you for mentioning me and your amazing and kind readers. They had very nice things to say about you and me... what a humbling and wonderful experience.

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