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An Update on My Hair Situation

It’s been a long time since I updated you on my “hair” situation.
I suppose I’ve felt like I couldn’t come back to you until I had good news to report…
Until I could tell you that I had stopped…
That I had found a way to overcome this…
To be stronger than my urges…
To win.

But unfortunately, my news for you today…
Is that I have no news.
Nothing has changed.

I still pull.
I still have hair extensions.
I still use powder to hide my bald spots.
And I still don’t have control.

Some days I’m okay with it.
Some days I’ve come to accept it as a part of who I am.
And I even tell myself that I can go on living like this forever…
Because this is me.

And then there are the other days.
The days when I am determined to not be defined by this condition.
To not let it control me.
The days that I want to ask for help.
The days that I am desperate for someone to teach me how to stop.

The problem then becomes,
that I never know which of these days it’s going to be when I get up in the morning.

Is it going to be a day where I stay strong,
or a day where I discreetly gather up all the pulled hair collecting on the floor of my car
before Ben notices what I’ve done.

Unlike most others who have TTM,
nearly every person in my life knows about it.
It’s hasn’t been a secret since I posted it for all to see nearly two years ago…
And although it’s no longer a secret,
somehow I’ve still found a way to hide behind it.
Even though all my friends and family now know,
we still never talk about it.

I can’t receive a compliment about a “good hair day”,
without wondering if they “know”.
Is she looking at my bald spots? Can she see them?
Do they know I’m faking it?
Do they know about the effort I have to put into having “normal” looking hair?
Do they know my “not so secret” secret?
Chances are they do.

And just by me posting this,
I’ll likely get a dozen phone calls and texts tomorrow asking me if everything is ok.
And I’ll answer that yes it is.
Because it’s the truth.
I promise you that I’m fine.
I’m happy even.
I just pull my hair.
And I don’t know why.

I’ve received literally hundreds of kind emails from so many of you assuring me that I’m not alone. Telling me that you experience this too. Or that your sister does. Your mother. Even your baby daughter.
Your stories have brought tears to my eyes, and comfort to my soul.
And oh, how I wish I had the ability to respond personally to each and every one of you.
To give you answers. Or hope.

But every time I go to click reply,
I never know what to say.
I have no words.
Because how can I help you,
when I haven’t yet learned how to help myself?
All I have to give is my story.
My experience.
And hope that what I’ve been battling for nearly 20 years will help shed some light.
Help you feel a little less alone in this whole thing.
___________________________
For more posts about my secret go here:

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37 Comments

  • Reply
    AmandaX
    October 8, 2012 at 7:58 am

    Ash,
    I was just thinking about this the other day. How surprised I was when you first let your secret out. Shocked that I had no idea. Numerous sleep overs and classes at school and I never knew. I wish there was something I could say to comfort you. If there is, I don’t know the words. Just know that you are an example to me and to many others just for being able to put this out there. To share your secret. You amaze and inspire me. ALL. THE. TIME.

  • Reply
    Erin
    October 8, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Ashley,
    I found your blog through Pinterest and have been reding for awhile. I too have been battling this TTM for about 20 years….since I was about 14. Even though you don’t have a solutions, (just like none of us do) it is still so comforting to see that someone else who has a great marriage and 2 beautiful babies and abundant blessing in her life can still struggle with this. I know how you feel. I hate how you feel, ’cause I feel it too! When my husband sees that my spot has gotten bald AGAIN for the millionth time, he wraps me up and says ” oh honey, is everything ok? Anything you need? I’m sorry you’re pulling again.” I hate having to tell him that I’ve really never NOT been pulling! I so hear you….I just wanted to you to know that. And I thank for you for having the courage to share your heart like this.

    P.S. I don’t know if you’ve been on the site dailystrength.com….but it’s like an online support group where you can join any group that you feel like might apply and there is a trich group. I don’t use it a whole lot, but they have neat ways to set goals for yourself and then people kind of cheer you on and encourage you along the way. It does seem to help. My ID there is abcd123 if you’d care to check it out 🙂 have a great day!

  • Reply
    Cathy Kelemen
    October 8, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    We all have our vices….so to speak. Don’t beat yourself up! You (from what your blog speaks) are a BEAUTIFUL STRONG WOMAN! You are an inspiration to a lot of people! What you share here is so beautiful and speaks volumes as to who you are. Hair…..well its just hair! Although I don’t pull my hair…..I have extremely THIN hair and your story has helped me with my own self image with my hair. What you share has inspired me!

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    October 8, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    I think it’s so brave of you to share this, and I think we all have our little secrets similar to this. Me? I have a horrible little habit of picking at my arms and face when I’m stressed or even just bored. It’s awful!! And somehow genetically-based, because my sisters struggle with it too.

  • Reply
    McKenzie Guymon
    October 8, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    You are such a brave person to share this. I am a cosmetologist Nd I have a few clients who pull their hair too. We were near tears as I told one of my clients about your story. I was able to understand a little more because of you sharing your story. Thank you for being so willing to share.

  • Reply
    Angela
    October 8, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    I was just thinking of you and this issue this weekend, wondering how you have been doing. Big hugs and support to you…. I know it sucks; I struggle with depression and anxiety. Have you thought about therapy? It has been really important for me.

  • Reply
    Misti
    October 8, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Hi Ashley,

    Ive been reading your blog for about two years. I have enjoyed every single part of it.

    Im sorry you have to deal with this problem, I honestly don’t know what that is like. But, I do fight depression daily, runs in my family, so I feel the frustration of being depressed, but, not having any reason. Why can’t I just wake up happy? You probably ask yourself why can’t I just stop pulling? Oh how I wish their was a switch we could pull. Anyway, Im just throwing this idea out there, have you ever kept a journal to write what triggers when you start to pull? Maybe, seeing it on paper will help give you the strength to pull less.

    Praying for you, you can beat this!

  • Reply
    Jen
    October 8, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    I started having OCD around the same elementary school age. Through much prayer, it is not nearly as strong as it was before. However, I noticed that when I exercised daily, my OCD anxiety would not be as bad. I also noticed that when I ate less sugar, I wouldn’t have as many symptoms either. OCD is in the s ame family, so I wanted to share. God Bless you…he’s taking care of you and your situation!

  • Reply
    April Foss I Sew Lucky
    October 8, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Hugs to you:) xoxox

  • Reply
    Amy K.
    October 8, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    I don’t think the people who email you are looking for a solution… I think they just want to know they are not the only one. So please don’t not reply because you can’t fix it – just hit that button & write, “Thanks for letting me know I am not alone!”

  • Reply
    Kayla
    October 8, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    You are such a brave and beautiful person for sharing this “secret”. I’ve been reading your blog ever since I started reading your Love Story. You’re such a beautiful person with a gift of writing.

    Philippians 4:13 🙂

  • Reply
    Laura
    October 8, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    It’s weird that your just posted this because I just sent you an email about it. Mine has been worse than usual lately and stumbling across your blog has been like getting a big hug from someone who knows what I’m going through. Thank you, and prayers for you and us all trichsters that something brings us peace.

    • Reply
      Ryann
      October 9, 2012 at 4:05 am

      Hi Laura! Just wanted to let you know that I was dealing with trich too….it’s consuuming!
      But I did some research and started taking n-acetylcystine 600mg twice a day and it has been
      A miracle! I have not had the urge to pull in months! ! Thought I’d pass on that info on to you! Good luck! Oh…you can order from amazon!

  • Reply
    Jamie
    October 8, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    I respect your honesty.

  • Reply
    Romance In A Glance
    October 8, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    You’re such a great person for sharing this!!!! I hope one day you can find the strength to stop, but at the end of the day you’re a gorgeous person and wonderful mom. That’s what defines you!

  • Reply
    Erin
    October 8, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    Thank you once again for reminding me I’m not alone. It gets tiring, doesn’t it? Thinking about this hair issue every day of our lives? Puh. Maybe someday we’ll both be able to get over it. In the mean time, it’s sure comforting to know others can relate. 🙂

  • Reply
    Wendy Orme
    October 8, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    I’m early 54 and have been pulling my hair out practically my whole life. I like Jens suggestions here. Hopefully, they’ll help with all my other quirks, too! You are amazing and I love to read your blog. Keep up the great work!

  • Reply
    Rachel Nicole
    October 8, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    a big huge bear hug is coming your way from me.
    Although I don’t struggle with this, I do pick my hangnails. I have tried stopping, and still am, and it does seem to work. if you really try hard.
    I know I’m not very old, and don’t have a lot of experience, but you can beat this.

    xoxo,
    Rachel Nicole @ Summer Breeze

    rachyracheshobbycorner.blogspot.com

  • Reply
    Michelle W
    October 8, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    Ahh, you made my pregnant butt cry. I can never take a complement about my hair either, even from my husband who would tell me if he could “see” anything.
    You’re in my thoughts 🙂

  • Reply
    Monique
    October 9, 2012 at 12:46 am

    I don’t know if you did this intentionally, but I love that you posted this during Mental Illness Awareness Week. You are doing a beautiful thing putting yourself out there so others can know they are not alone. Sending happy thoughts your way!

  • Reply
    Ryann
    October 9, 2012 at 4:13 am

    To all the fellow pullers out there….look up n-acetylcystine…it’s basically an antioxidant
    That is being used with success to treat trich. I tried it and it was a miracle! 600mg twice a day. I ordered mine from amazon, but you can find it at drugstores too. I’ve been pull free for a few months now and it’s a great feeling! You CAN do it too! Ashley….thank you! I hope this helps you like it has helped me!

  • Reply
    debbie Mollner
    October 9, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    I feel so blessed to have such a brave and honest niece. I tear up every time I think about you going through this and not being able to help. I pray that by putting your story out in the universe for all to see you are helping others while also helping yourself. One day you will find something that helps but in the meantime, keep your loved ones close and keep being an inspiration to so many. I love you so much Monkey Woman!!!

  • Reply
    JennyLynn
    October 9, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    My son does the same thing. He keeps his hair shaved off! It in his tweens. I had Dr.’s tell me that he would grow out of it. He is better these days and doesn’t pull it out like he use to. Wish I had know what it was called years ago. By you talking about it, I now have a name for it. Thank-you!

    We each have something to over come in life a struggle, addiction or a behavior that is hurtful. Some of us know what that is and others are still in denial.You’re amazing for being strong enough to share this with everyone in blog land.

  • Reply
    Gillian
    October 10, 2012 at 12:04 am

    XOXO. If you ever figure it out let me in on the secret— said the girl who can’t stop chewing the inside of her mouth to shreds. sigh

  • Reply
    Leesa
    October 10, 2012 at 12:16 am

    Have you looked into energy work? One of my favorite types of energy work is through the foot; called Foot Zonology. There is always a reason why, and energy work will help you uncover and heal that reason. If you are interested email me for more info. 🙂 Hang in there.

  • Reply
    Goldengirls59
    October 10, 2012 at 1:41 am

    Hi Ashley. Thanks for being so candid with your struggle. We all try to hide things but sometimes revealing them helps others and in turn helps ourselves. May God continue to give you strength during your struggles. ” I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. You may be familiar with Abbie from the blog 5 days, 5 ways because she deals with the same thing.
    By the way, both your sons are so adorable! And you are beautiful as well, inside and out. Enjoy this precious time with your sons. I always say to my husband as long as the kids are dressed, fed, taken where they need to be and are relatively happy then it’s been a productive day! Forget about everything else, before you know it you’ll have all the time to clean with no excuses! But who wants that!

  • Reply
    Melanie Cantelmo
    October 10, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    I couldn’t imagine how hard it is but thank you for continuing to share your story. I believe sharing are hardships makes us real and you are so real. So many of us deal with many things similar to this. Many people choose to keep it a secret. Thank you.

  • Reply
    Nena Fisher
    October 10, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    It’s okay if you don’t overcome this. You’re amazing regardless. I also wanted to say that I love your ‘new blog’. Well done indeed!

  • Reply
    Lis
    October 10, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Thank you for choosing to keep us updated.

  • Reply
    Barbara
    October 14, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    Just because you haven’t stopped, does not mean you aren’t strong. Strength comes in many forms. Choosing to share, choosing to be happy despite your struggle, that shows true strength. I know you are giving a lot of people out there hope. Keep on being so great–praying and sending hugs!

  • Reply
    Becca
    October 16, 2012 at 4:34 am

    Thanks for being so brave and honest. May God continue you to guide and bless you.

  • Reply
    Erin C.
    October 21, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    I happened upon your blog because a friend of mine pinned one of your fantastic decorating ideas and I clicked to see more. I am awed by your ability to be so open about your condition and believe that your openness is a huge step toward taking the stigma out of a condition that effects so many of us- me included. Thank you for sharing your story. Your openness is inspiring and while most of us are not as brave to talk about our struggles, please know that you are not alone.

  • Reply
    Vickie
    October 27, 2012 at 12:40 am

    I’m sitting here crying because I feel the same things you do. I have also been pulling my hair for a very long time. I struggle with anxiety and depression, and as I come to more self realization, OCD tendancies as well. When I finally got brave enough to tell my husband and kids it was like a weight was lifted off me. My youngest daughter is my strongest supporter. If she sees me pulling (especially in the car- one of my favorite places to pull) to will say “Stop mom” and that is enough to bring me back. But telling people, sharing it with others….it is so hard!! Thank you for making it ok to share!!

  • Reply
    Brigid
    October 30, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Hi Ashley,
    I just wrote a long response to your first post about the Trich. I’ve had it since I was 11. Just wanted to add a few things here.

    (1) There is nothing ‘wrong’ with you. You’re not ‘doing’ anything ‘wrong’. You’re perfect the way you are at any given time whether you judge yourself to be or not. It doesn’t matter how you see yourself or how others see you. You’re always perfect anyway. We all are. We experience the challenges we do because they are ours to learn from. Cherish them. They are why we grow, why we develop spiritually and as human beings.

    (2) It’s Trich and it’s an overwhelming compulsion. We can’t just stop. We can’t control it. My psychoanalyst when I was 16 once asked me, “What’s so great about control anyway?” We were talking about my need for control at the time, not my hair pulling. What he said has replayed in my head over and over through the years. It has to do with surrender. As in,
    “Some days I’m okay with it.
    Some days I’ve come to accept it as a part of who I am.
    And I even tell myself that I can go on living like this forever…
    Because this is me.”

    (3) There are no meds so far that can effectively treat Trich. In fact, anti-anxiety meds like Alprazolam make me pull my hair more. There is some kind of trance-like trigger involved in the pulling. Like when we’re pulling for hours and we’ve fallen into a kind of trance. Or when we get tired and tranced out it TRIGGERS the pulling. It works both ways. The common denominator is the brain trance.

    (4) One very important thing I’ve noticed over the years is that when something big and/or new happens to me the compulsion to pull goes away for a while. Like when I went on exchange overseas for my third year of college. Everything was so new and I was so fully engaged in the experience and felt so fulfilled that I didn’t have the urge to pull for the first 4 or 5 months. I let the experience take me away. I wasn’t sitting idly by worrying about things. It’s kind of like revving an engine but not going anywhere. When the engine’s revving but we’re not moving the urge to pull is strong. But once we start moving the pulling stops.

    (5) Like I said, our challenges are tailor made for us. I think we are given the challenges we need the most. Maybe the need for control is the disorder and the Trich is the medicine we don’t know how to use yet. With Trich we experience a loss of control so complete, a compulsion so strong to pull our hair that it simply can’t be resisted no matter what we do. Maybe we need to experience that level of loss of control over our own minds and even the movement of our own bodies in order for us to understand and eventually accept the fact that we don’t control anything. That our sense of control is an illusion. And it’s OKAY.

    Maybe we have been given such a harsh lesson in loss of control because what we need to learn most is to let go.

    You’re perfect just as you are.

  • Reply
    Elizabeth
    June 9, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    This is the 3rd post I have read today about you (like ever)… I admire your courage and strength. Anxieties, compulsions, and certainly the Trich must be difficult to cope with in such an appearance based society as ours. I admire you for trying to be accountable to others and all the other things you have said thus far to encourage others. I could say something about loving yourself, being yourself, etc. But I choose to tell you something about motivation. Which applies to all things) Keeping up motivation and finding reasons is like taking a bath… you want to do so regularly or you carry around the dirt (weight, guilt, shame, emotional baggage) and eventually you are unhappy. Find your motivation daily. Not to “change” but to be the person you want to be. I am a compulsive hand wringer… only the husband has caught on to it because he knew me before the anxiety became full-fledged. I have learned “tricks” painting my nails, cleaning things, holding my own hand or his… but truth be told, I have rubbed bruises int my hands. When others “notice” I say I am just giving myself a hand massage (or a foot massage) but the truth is I hurt. Reducing caffeine, stress, running, etc. none of it really stops… I don’t know if it’s necessarily a terrible thing because of the alternatives. I can justify it… but that is part of an “addict’s” behavior no? I just want to encourage you that there are lots of little things about us, (especially as women) that may seem wrong but are not. Be encouraged sweet lady. I try to turn to scripture and friends when I can feel my triggers coming on. “Cast your anxieties (cares) on the Lord because He cares…” That is usually enough of a reason to release myself from it or at least lighten my grip. If the Maker of the Universe cares about me… that is a good feeling to replace the pain. Take care.

  • Reply
    Lauren
    December 15, 2014 at 9:34 am

    “Help you feel a little less alone in this whole thing.”

    THANK YOU.

    this, just in itself, is such an enormous fete and i can’t thank you enough for your posts about TRICH. i’m a mom of a 7 year old hair puller who, over the last 7 months, has wracked my brain trying to figure out a way to fix my child. i need to step back… it’s not about me. it’s about her. it’s HER issue. and all i can do is hold her hand as she learns to find her way along such a tricky path.

    thank you. a thousand times over… for helping me feel less alone tonight.

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