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.