Home > Guest Blogs > Awareness Week 2014: Eddie

edward-thomsonI’d give anything to be able to pull my hair out right now. I know that’s not something people with Trich say, but my head is currently buzzed, I’ve had a long week of school, and I have no other outlet to deal with stress. Really, it summarizes where I am, most of the time, with Trichotillomania.

I’m a 22-year-old man, and I’ve had it since I was eight. Because of those things, and the fact that I couldn’t hide it until High School, I’ve reached a degree of acceptance. I still have my issues with Trich that go deeper than not wanting to look odd in public, but at the very least, I’m typically open about it with people. I thought everyone who had this would have to be.

My name is Eddie Thomson, and my main triggers are stress from school, excessive driving, and difficult video games. I also pull sometimes when I’m bored or trying to stay awake.

This isn’t how the story starts, but I first started pulling my own hair when I was eight, and the story goes that it was the result of a state test. I’d like to take a minute to say good luck to the kids who pull, who have to deal with the Common Core State Standards. For those who don’t know, it involves teaching to the test, and all I’ve heard is that it stresses out students, teachers, and parents.

Anyway, I came home with a big bald spot on my head, and well the rest was kind of history. I don’t think I’ve gone a year or semester without leaving a classroom with hair all over the desk and/or floor. Elementary and Middle School would be filled with some ridicule, weird looks, teachers telling me “stop that” at the request of my parents, plus the occasional “does he have cancer?” and “does he eat his hair?” The cancer comments hurt the most because Trich is the least of my medical concerns, since I’m also very underweight. Just think about Joseph Gordon Levitt in 50/50 for a second. The eating comments hurt too because I didn’t know about Trichophagia (the people who said that probably didn’t really about it either), and honestly it made me think, what kind of freak do these people think I am? Who would do that? I’m sorry to say my condition and life could be hundreds of times worse than it is.

During seventh grade, we tried fighting Trich, anxiety, depression, and seventh grade itself with medicine from a psychiatrist. The result of that was more depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts, and the only thing I’d attempt to take for Trich now is NAC , which is expensive, since I’m a full-time college student with no job.

All this has led to a large collection of hats. Mostly they’re caps of various colors, with the occasional top hat or fedora for good measure, and Halloween. I wear one almost every day (sometimes I forget when I’m running out the door), but it doesn’t make a difference sometimes because I can pull under it or it slips off if I’m playing with my hair or scratching my scalp. When I do forget a hat, it’s not the worst thing in the world because adults are kind enough to disregard it. I think that’s because it’s usually buzzed.

When I was a toddler, apparently I pulled on my mom’s hair, and according to her, she said that I should do it to my own head. We both regret this, of course, and on my end there’s some resentment, but she’s my mom and she loves me. I can’t stay mad at her about it, plus that’s not the main cause. Little kids do that all the time without it turning into Trich. No, I’m wondering if the cause is genetic, and that’s a big can of worms.

So, I’m adopted, and with adoption comes a few things. Those are questions about things like Trichotillomania and the inability to gain weight, plus an appreciation for the Spider-Man movies with Andrew Garfield. Getting back to the issue, I can’t look at my family and say, “It’s f***ing your fault!” Would I actually say that, given the opportunity? I don’t know, but there’s a certain element of closure to it, and in my case it’s more to do with the weight problem. Now, for (expecting) parents who pull, I’m sorry I believe that, but I do. Virtually everything your child starts with is out of your hands, but you will be able to help them cope with whatever life throws at them. I just want to take this opportunity to get everything out.

When I learned about Trich support groups I saw an entirely different side of the disorder that surprised me. First, people who pull from places other than the top, sides, and back of their head. Brows are so short, so how do people grab them, and lashes are just too close to the eyes for me. Pulling down there is, well, too painful. Then again, I think I might be one of the few people who will occasionally “pull” with scissors or a razor. I’m not talking about buzzing, but basically doing the same kind of damage as pulling in a faster and, occasionally, bloodier way. The inside of many of my hats have stains in them, and so do some of the towels in my bathroom. When I learned the razor could leave permanent scars, it unfortunately didn’t stop me. It did slow me down a bit, though.

edward-thomson-2Second, people who were in the closet and able to hide their pulling, even from their family, but at the cost of more stress. I never had that option until high school, which, like I said, led to a degree of acceptance. I wish more people were less willing to hide, or participate in Pull Free movements. I side with Rebecca Brown (Beckie0) on the idea that these things can do more harm than good, but I suppose it’s also a case-by-case basis. Unfortunately comments like this, when they’re on Facebook, have led to Trich groups sometimes causing more harm than good. People just need platforms to heal, and voice what their perfect world with, or rather without, Trichotillomania is.

If I had my way, I’d be completely, evenly bald, and my hair would never grow back. I can deal with being bald, for the most part, and if a chance to break the cycle presented itself, I’d jump on it. Also, I’d love to permanently remove my fingernails (is that possible?) just to make sure I can’t continue hurting myself. That’s my dream, as contradictory it is to that opening sentence that would be one less problem in my life. My nightmare, I should point out, is pulling out a date’s hair during intimacy, and her freaking out on me. To complicate matters, this raises another question, is Trichotillomania linked to Trichophillia (hair fetishism) because, uh, if it is, I’m proof.

The Trichophillia started roughly the same time, at eight years old. This is something I’m actually kind of coming out (that’s an acceptable term, right?) about because I can’t think of a better place to do that. While some guys will turn their heads to check out a girl’s butt, I’ll check out her hair, and then her butt. As I’m typing this, I feel like a perv and an asshole, but as a guy with this condition, I’d love to believe I’m not the only one.

Trichotillomania is a little, living hell. It doesn’t define who I am, but it does get in the way of who I am sometimes. I regularly can’t do one of the things I love (play video games) without pulling, I am constantly reminded of it when I pull in front of family, even though there’s usually a good reason to risk getting caught by them, and every semester of school new people have to find out about it. I sense I’ve rambled on long enough, and would like to leave the people who are reading this with a piece of advice. Good luck with not pulling, and picking out the right hat/bandana/wig you’re going to wear today or tomorrow. More importantly, good luck with life and the things that make you pull.

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