I remember reading a book for hours on end in the sixth grade at home when I first started mindlessly plucking my eyebrows. I was only 12-years-old.
I grew up with pretty much a unibrow. I was always teased for it, and without even knowing I guess I just started plucking it with my fingernails whenever I needed to keep my hands busy. The more I plucked, the more bald patches i had with my eyebrows and the thinner they became. I even remember one of my good friends in middle school looking at me and saying “you shouldn’t pluck your eyebrows, Liz, you need to pluck the hairs that makes that unibrow.” At first, I guess that stemmed from a place of feeling like over-tweezing your eyebrows was what pretty girls did. But as I got older and thicker eyebrows were now the trend, I still found it hard to stop plucking my eyebrows. At 26, it’s at it’s worst.
Hi, my name is Liz & because of my need to control everything in my life, I pluck my hair as a defensive mechanism for my anxiety. It’s called Trichotillomania.
Trichotillomania is what people call the “hair-pulling disorder”, it’s when people pull hair off of their bodies with creates bald patches on the places where there should be hair. This hair-pulling can happen on places like your scalp, eyebrows, private area, and even your eyelashes. While there’s no concrete tracing to mental illness, Trichotillomania can coexist with many anxiety disorders.
This was something I was very ashamed of talking about when I realized it’s become more than just a problem of “over-plucking my eyebrows”. It then transferred to plucking more than my eyebrows; it was now my hair from my scalp, body hair, even eyelashes.
After speaking to my therapist about it for the first time in late 2018, I realized that it was stemming from a place of anxiety and the lack of control I had over the situations going on around that time. I tried a stress ball for some time, anything to keep my hands busy and away from my face when my anxiety was at its peak. Unfortunately, it’s a habit that never really died out, and it has its moments when it’s not that bad and when it’s at its worst.
Last month it was at its worst.
I hate having to constantly cover up the bald patches with some type of makeup powder because it’s a reminder that I have this issue. I know that this issue only resurfaces whenever I feel like I don’t have control over my life or when I’m extremely worried about something that I’m shameful for doing or not doing. Last month it was at it’s worst because leading up to my first in-person visit with my bariatrics doctor since the pandemic happened, I was incredibly disappointed that I wasn’t able to stick to the whole “diet” during the time I was at home. In hindsight, I was extremely worried that I gained a lot more weight, and I was afraid to get my first weight-in after the pandemic and to see the number raise higher than I expected it to.
So, I take it out on myself, like it’s my judgement’s twisted way of saying “you deserve to feel like this.” Hence, I practically rip hair off my body.
I’ve dealt with this internal battle for 14 years now, and it’s tiring. It’s tiring having to feel like I’m only pretty when I cover up those things. It’s tiring to not be able to go a day without applying anything over the spots and just go out the way I’d like to go out. It’s tiring that people classify me as “one of those girls” (a guy has called me that before), the ones where you can’t take to the beach or a swimming pool because you don’t know what she looks like underneath the drawn on eyebrows and eye makeup. I don’t do it because I want to, I literally have to or else my issue becomes a topic of the day.
Also, I’m aware that this hair-pulling disorder is just another way of self-harming yourself that many people don’t talk about because you’re not leaving scars on your body and you’re not trying to kill yourself. No, but you’re punishing yourself for the things that you don’t have complete control over, and isn’t that one of motives of self-harm?
I’ve alluded to this for years now on the blog, and the reason I wanted to speak about it on the blog was because I’m tired of the energy it has on me. I’m tired of silently fighting something that will always have some sort of hold on me for as long as I live, or at least as long as I allow my body to feel like I need to have control in every aspect of my life. Maybe it’ll get better as time goes, but I also know that it probably won’t, but as long as I acknowledge it and know why it happens, I could at least try to focus my hands on doing something else.
This is me diffusing the energy behind something I’ve been fighting with since forever. It’s about time we finally spoke about it publicly and speak out its existence to the world.