The Moment I Told a Coworker 'I Pull Out My Hair'

If you asked me seven years ago if I would ever pull my hair out again, then I would probably laugh. Little did I know how long-term this disorder could be. Now, I’m 25 and it’s gotten pretty severe, although it might not “look” like it has. This is my story. When I finally said those three words publicly, “I have trich,” it was a “trichy” situation. (No pun intended.)

I remember sitting at work pulling my hair over and over again wondering, “How is no one noticing?” I had just opened the internet to look at some articles when one about Rapunzel Syndrome showed up. Rapunzel Syndrome is the eating of one’s own hair after pulling it out.

Now although I don’t eat my hair, I do pull it. Seeing as this might have been a good opportunity to get someone’s opinion on this topic, I asked my coworker what they thought about it. I wanted to gauge my coworkers reaction. So I opened up a website about trichotillomania and pretended I was educating myself on something I actually knew everything about.

I remember her saying, “I feel bad some people just can’t help it.” That’s when I turned and, for the first time openly to someone who wasn’t a close friend or family, said, “I have this. I pull out my hair.”

I was shaking, but it felt so freeing. That’s when I knew it was time to tell the world. At work that day we talked about it briefly, but she didn’t look at me any different. Her eyes didn’t wander to see where I might be missing hair.

Now, I want to make it clear I didn’t just stand up at work and yell, “I pull out my hair!” I wanted to do something subtle and meaningful. I posted a picture and a caption on my Instagram and Facebook that says, “I tried to stop pulling out hair, but it’s trichy.”

This had me cracking up, but all jokes aside, I’ve been hesitant to post something like this because of one thing, being judged. I tell myself maybe I’m ready to say it now. Yet, then I get scared and forget about it. I need to stop hiding behind this wall. If I don’t talk about it, then who will?

Another reason is because perhaps there are certain people I don’t want seeing this. For example, coworkers, friends, family or anyone for that matter. Why should I be ashamed and hide from something I have no control over? Mental illness and mental health need to be spoken about. For once, I’m speaking about a mental illness that only a handful of people know about from me and in general.

I will finally say it. I’m tearing up as I write this. I have trich.

Why do I do it? I can’t tell you. You don’t look like you have it. Thanks, but I do. Why don’t I just stop? It’s not that easy.

Be supportive and kind to those around you because you don’t know what they are going through. I want people to feel safe and not judged when discussing mental illness and mental health. This is my way of showing that. So here goes nothing!

I received nothing but positivity and support. I was surprised when numerous people messaged me privately to disclose that they do have trich as well. I admired their bravery because I knew how hard it could be to actually say it.

My boyfriend’s friends know, and now there is no going back. I don’t regret this decision one bit. I’m so happy I did it at this moment. I am ready to share my story and support with others. I am not defined by a 16-letter word anymore. I am not hiding behind a seven-syllable wall of embarrassment and shame. I am living a life of freedom, bravery and self-acceptance.

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