When Anxiety Becomes Too Much
I’m so stressed/worried/frustrated that I’m pulling my hair out!
My son suffers from trichotillomania.
What a freakin’ long word.
For those of you who don’t suffer from this, it is the compulsion to pull your hair out. Oftentimes, it is due to anxiety…and sometimes the sufferer has a history of OCD. Only 1–2% of adults and adolescents even have this condition; my son won this jackpot.
It first began in early 2015 when he was a 6th grader. I received an email at work letting me know that he had pulled out some of his hair; the teacher found some hair on the desk where he was sitting.
I thought it was odd to receive such an email. A little hair, no big deal. I wasn’t prepared, though, to see the full extent. Pulling through the carline at school dismissal, I see my boy walking briskly to the car; and my eyes take in the full scope of what has happened. Tears fight to be released, yet I desperately attempt to hold them in.
I recall my younger brother having a slight issue with hair-pulling when we were young, but nothing that seemed to be a big issue; he got past it after a short while and it never returned.
Eventually, my son got past it too.
It subsided, and life reverted to normal.
In November 2017, it began yet again.
This time, he pulled from the top of his head…and his underarms (ouch!)
As I read up on trichotillomania, I learned that sometimes other compulsions emerge before hair pulling…picking at the skin, biting nails, chewing lips. Sometimes pulling hairs from pets, clothes, blankets, or other items may be other indications something is wrong, as well. With trichotillomania, the most common places to pull out the hair are the scalp, eyelashes, and eyebrows.
Trichotillomania is a form of self-injury.
We often hear of “cutters”, especially as a teacher. I’ve had numerous students who have dealt with this, along with other ways of attempting to calm emotions, frustrations, and anxiety. Self-harm also helps a person feel in control or is used as a distraction from a difficult life circumstance or simply to feel something rather than feeling emotionally numb. Unfortunately, these habits can become addictive or cause bigger problems later on.
Call to Action:
If you notice any small behaviors within yourself or others that may be related to self-injury, take action now.
- Confide in someone.
- Determine the triggers.
- Find a new coping technique.
- Seek professional assistance.
Don’t allow yourself or others to suffer alone.
Copyright © 2017 Alicia T-Rust. All rights reserved.