Why I Made My Girl Scout Gold Award Project About My Experience With Trichotillomania

Getting diagnosed with trichotillomania at the age of 8 wasn’t easy for me, nor wanted. I faced daily battles with my compulsions, emotions, classmates and my mind. I was embarrassed and ashamed of how I looked and what I did, but I couldn’t stop. I knew I couldn’t just snap my fingers and never pull again. I use that mentality every day, especially when I get hard on myself. If you can’t beat it, embrace it. I wasn’t going to let this disorder stop me. Even after countless years of bullying at school, I tried to keep my head up high and ignore it. I decided enough was enough and recognized the problem wasn’t going to fix itself. I also reminded myself that many other kids might be facing the same problem. I chose to do my Girl Scout Gold Award on raising awareness about trichotillomania and other body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) in my community.

I have been working on this project for nearly three years now, shaping it into something lasting and impactful. I have gone to elementary schools to give presentations about trichotillomania and BFRBs, presented at a health fair, had a meeting with the Health Chair and Assistant Superintendent, as well as the Health Teachers in my school district, about reinforcing and expanding the mental health curriculum and made an educational video to be used in classroom settings. Though it has been difficult to stand up in front of other people, facing their judgment when I tell them I pull my hair out, I do it anyways because I know I am helping so many other people, especially children.

The amount of acceptance and love I have been met with is overwhelming. So many people in my community have reached out to me because either they or their children have a body focused repetitive behavior. Making those connections with others and knowing that the reason they have found help and relief is due to the fact I opened up about my experience is the greatest feeling in the world.

Going into my senior year of high school and looking back on the little girl I was eight years ago, I am astounded at the amount of progress I have made in being accepting of myself and staying true to my beliefs. All I have ever wanted to do is help others, and I feel this project has allowed me to go above and beyond that. I am proud to have trichotillomania, and I know without it, I wouldn’t have faced many of the struggles that have shaped me into the strong young woman I am growing to be.

If you or a loved one is affected by body-focused repetitive behaviors, you can find resources at The TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors.

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