Trichotillomania Learning Center – What?

Eyelash
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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:

  1. To help those who are currently too embarrassed to admit they are struggling with a mental illness get the treatment they need.
  2. To reduce the stigma associated with having a mental illness.
  3. 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).

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