However, I'm not entirely sure if my love for hair is entirely normal. See, when I was in fifth grade, I started to notice the hair on my eyebrows. They were just sitting there, two little patches of hair right on my brow. And when I was probably about ten years old, I started to rub the hairs on my eyebrows. It was a really weird habit of mine, and I didn't really understand why I did it, but there was a weird sense of pleasure that came with doing it. In fact, for a long time I didn't even realize what I was doing. It actually took until these two girls started making fun of me for my unusual habit that I realized what I was doing.
Now, I didn't have a ton of friends in my childhood, being the shy, awkward girl that I was and am, and little Fifth Grade Me certainly didn't want to add on to my childhood loneliness by becoming the laughingstock of my fifth grade class for rubbing my eyebrows. No, sir. So, I began to make a conscious effort to put an end to my weird habit. This effort was incredibly successful, and I stopped touching my eyebrows rather quickly, and I didn't do it for another three and a half years or so.
But then, when I was in ninth grade, my mind started to return to the days of when I would rub my eyebrows. I thought a lot about it. Why did I do that? What was I getting out of it? Should I just do it again, just once, just to see what it was like? Eventually, about halfway through my freshman year, my habit relapsed. Hair rubbing returned as a nervous habit of mine, and I was lucky enough to have avoided the mean girls and have a wide circle of loving friends, and the social anxiety that came with my habits when I was in fifth grade was gone.
But it didn't stop there. No, eventually, my eyebrow-rubbing habit got a little out of control, and it escalated to levels that it hadn't in fifth grade. My habit of playing with the hairs on my eyebrows escalated to the point where I was pulling the hairs out of my eyebrows. I would grip a single eyebrow hair and just pull it out of my head like it was no big deal.
The sharp turn that my habit had taken worried me. Why was I pulling my own hair out? Why didn't I see anyone else rubbing and pulling on their eyebrows?
So, being the anxious person I am, I did extensive research on this. All signs seemed to point to an impulse control disorder called trichotillomania, which literally translates from Greek as "hair-pulling madness." People who suffer from trichotillomania feel the urge to pull out (and, in some other cases, even eat) their own hair from one or many parts of their body, including the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, legs, arms, pubic region. Complications can include infections, permanent hair loss, and repetitive stress injury. Trichotillomania (or, trich) is often difficult to diagnose because many potential sufferers are humiliated, self-conscious, and/or ashamed of themselves over their hair pulling and hair loss. This demographic includes myself.
I've never been formally diagnosed with trichotillomania, because I feel way too self-conscious about my hair pulling and the bald patches that occasionally show up on my eyebrows to tell my family, friends, doctor, anyone. Besides, I've taken so many online tests, matching my symptoms with those of diagnosed trichotillomania cases, that I have come to the conclusion that I probably do have trich.
Coping with my hair pulling is a struggle in itself. I've tried countless ways to either hide the bald patches in my eyebrows, or stop pulling altogether. I usually resort to eyebrow pencils to cover bald spots, but stopping myself from pulling is not so simple. What usually works best for me is having some sort of plastic jewelry to fidget with whenever I feel the urge to pull. Lately, I've been going months at a time without pulling, only to relapse later. I'm not totally pull-free, but it's a start. When I have my "fidget jewelry" with me, I feel in control of my impulses. Also, my eyebrows have been growing back. I can't remember the last time I used eyebrow pencil to cover up my bald patches.
I've found solace in my fidget jewelry, and in knowing I'm not alone. I've found several YouTube vloggers (my favorite being Beckie0) who also deal with trich as well, in often more serious cases.
I have no idea what my future holds for me, whether I will ever stop pulling or not, but I'm hopeful.
I'm very, very hopeful.