Post Published on November 17, 2010.
Last Updated on November 29, 2017 by davemackey.
I share frequently and publicly – in “real life” and via the internet – that I have and continue to struggle with both Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Depression. I do this for a number of reasons:
- To help those who are currently too embarrassed to admit they are struggling with a mental illness get the treatment they need.
- To reduce the stigma associated with having a mental illness.
- To raise awareness of the many forms in which mental illness exists and to encourage individuals to be understanding of those who suffer from various forms of it.
I must admit, it is a bit harder for me to say that I probably have trichotillomania as well. First off, the name just isn’t conducive. Its too long of a word, too unfamiliar, and it ends with “mania” which many equate with “insanity.” But, if I’m going to be honest and open – I need to admit that this is something I struggle with as well.
Trichotillomania is the compulsive pulling of one’s own hair. In my instance is a fairly mild instance and does not cause significant life disruption. During my teenage years while working as a field stone mason I pulled out a lot of my hair on top of my head (I ponder if this corresponds to my young balding), but these days it largely revolves around pulling on my eyelashes – which irritates my eyes.
I am very aware of pulling on my eyelashes and battle quite vigorously to not do so, but eventually give in. It is an extremely frustrating feeling. Recently, with aging and as I rack up the years working full-time in front of a computer (in IT) my eyes have become more bothersome. After checking with a eye doctor it seems evident that this is not caused by a deterioration of my vision but rather from the constant picking and rubbing I pour out upon my eyes.
In my endeavors to find new ways to battle this compulsion I came across the Trichotillomania Learning Center, and while I’ve only begun to explore this extensive resources I am quite impressed. Trichotillomania is not a well-known disorder, there is no Monk for trichotillomaniacs as there is for OCD, nor has depression been repeatedly portrayed in major movies, television shows, and books over the years – yet this organization has managed to create an impressive resource for anyone suffering from trichotillomania – a resource that outstrips many of those available for more well-known and statistically prevalent disorders. For this I must grant them uber-kudos.
I do feel a little overwhelmed by this beautiful site, so if like me you just want to get the big idea…I’d click on “For Adults” on the left-hand navigation. Then choose “What is Hair Pulling?” and from the drop-down menu that appears choose “Causes.” In this section you will find a link to a PDF article aimed at medical professionals treating individuals with trichotillomania, but it is a very straightforward and easy read – so I’d recommend it as a great starting place for just about anyone – especially if you have some basic understanding of the various mental disorders (e.g. ocd, depression, anxiety related), treatment modalities (cognitive, behavioral), and medications (e.g. SSRIs like fluoxetine).