3 Feelings I Experienced After Sharing My Trichotillomania Story
I was nervous to tell my story. Everything on the internet is so permanent and searchable and part of me didn’t want others to read about my disorder. It’s a deeply personal tale. I didn’t want the exposure or the vulnerability. Even now, it is difficult for me to read my own story of discovering I had trichotillomania (TTM). I feared those who read my story would think I’m weird, crazy, or disgusting. Part of me still sort of feels that way, however, a few really amazing things happened when I had a platform to tell my story.
I felt validated. Not a single person made a rude or hurtful comment on my article and the corresponding posts on social media. Comments poured in from diverse groups of people who were able to relate to my story, whether they personally experienced TTM or not. It made me feel less alone. TTM causes a broad range of emotions and to know that others could connect with my feelings, let me know that my experience is not so unique, that my feelings are valid, and I am accepted. TTM brings out a lot of anxiety for me – I am also so overwhelmed in thinking that others see my thinning hair before they see me. People acknowledged my struggle but acknowledged me as a human being first. My disorder doesn’t define me – it’s merely one aspect of me.
I felt loved. Those with TTM, myself included, often experience significant shame and embarrassment which prevents them from seeking treatment or support. TTM makes you feel so alone, but when I told my story, I received an overwhelming response. I got countless comments and messages from otherwise strangers who connected with my story. The isolation faded away. My grandmother wrote me a handwritten letter to tell me how brave and beautiful I am and my mom proudly shared my story on her social media feeds. Friends liked my story and friends who I wasn’t aware were dealing with TTM shared their stories with me. This community of support was easily the most rewarding aspect of coming out with my disorder.
I felt liberated. Sharing my story felt like a weight being lifted off my shoulders. I wasn’t carrying my secret anymore. It’s sad that anyone outside the bounds of “normal” feels like they have to lock a part of themselves away. In getting older and in telling my story, I have learned that there is great potential for personal growth in being vulnerable.
You don’t have to tell your TTM story. I understand what it’s like to live with TTM and I understand if your story is too painful to share. Our stories are our own, but the more conversations we have about TTM, the more we normalize it. This is just my story, and I chose to share it.
Thinkstock image via Medioimages/Photodisc.
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