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A post submitted by an anonymous BFRB member.


 

For the past year now I have been struggling with what I believe to be trichotemnomania – the obsessive compulsive need / desire to cut or shave body hair. For me personally, it badly affects my head hair as it has caused me to cut my once shoulder length hair to hair that’s now less than a few cm from the scalp in some areas, and I also have tendencies to shave or remove any body or facial hair. However as a lesser known BFRB, I have found it incredibly hard to find any information about it or get a firm diagnosis from any doctors or therapists.

In many ways, trichotemnomania has badly knocked by self confidence and created tension from those who don’t fully understand what it is, even I’m not fully aware of why it started or what my compulsions are driven by as there is so little information to access, and no one has heard of it. As a result I don’t receive much sympathy and many people like to point out that I have weird looking hair or ask me why I have bald or uneven patches in certain areas. I have tried many times to control the urge to cut my hair and let it grow, but any attempts I’ve tried seem to fail. For now I am trying to forgive myself and be kind to myself when I cut my hair down to the scalp or relapse, I only wish that people would take trichotemnomania more seriously and that there was more to help the people who have it.

If anyone feels that they are going through the same thing then I would like to say that you’re not alone even if it feels that way, and we should use our voices to educate others so trichotemnomania can become a more recognized condition!

25 Comments, RSS

  • Shelley

    says on:
    October 14, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    Hey there, I have been dealing with this for years….about a decade. Hair grows..is uneven…eventually it gets 50 haircuts and I am pixie length. I don’t know what triggers it, just the feeling my hair is uneven. I have even taken to trimming it in the bathroom at work. I also am very fixated on plucking. My family thinks I am nits and are tried of cleaning clogs from the sink or toilet from trimmings. I am currently on no meds and have High anxiety a lot. Hair is a shirt Bob but was to my chin a few days ago 🙁 Dr. Doesn’t know what I am talking about when I mention this. Sigh.

  • Caitlin

    says on:
    November 24, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    I’ve been struggling with the hair cutting for a number of years. I used to have 3 foot long hair, but now I can barely stand it to be longer than 4-5 inches (around 12 cm) .

    I keep relapsing and cutting it. Last year I pretty much shaved it off. As of late..I’ve been controlling the desire to do it again.

    Yes, I am ashamed and yes I am aware that I only have half a heads hair on my head. Knowing how bad it looks, doesn’t help the impulses. It makes them worse because then I want to ‘fix’ it by shaving it all off again.

    This disorder is compounded by my other disorders. Anxieties and bipolar disorder.
    They make it worse. 🙁

    I also deal with skin picking and nail biting.
    As a kid I dealt with the compulsive nose picking,so bad I gave myself nose bleeds.

    I understand your frustration and irritation.

    There is no cure..there are therapies but no fix.

    I’m on a bunch of meds and they don’t fucking help me in this.

  • Caitlin

    says on:
    November 24, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    I’ve been struggling with the hair cutting for a number of years. I used to have 3 foot long hair, but now I can barely stand it to be longer than 4-5 inches (around 12 cm) .

    I keep relapsing and cutting it. Last year I pretty much shaved it off. As of late..I’ve been controlling the desire to do it again.

    Yes, I am ashamed and yes I am aware that I only have half a heads hair on my head. Knowing how bad it looks, doesn’t help the impulses. It makes them worse because then I want to ‘fix’ it by shaving it all off again.

    This disorder is compounded by my other disorders. Anxieties and bipolar disorder.
    They make it worse. 🙁

    I also deal with skin picking and nail biting.
    As a kid I dealt with the compulsive nose picking,so bad I gave myself nose bleeds.

    I understand your frustration and irritation.

    There is no cure..there are therapies but things can get better.

  • nbs

    says on:
    December 4, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    I cant stop. been doing it for yrs and yrs with a couple breaks in between. Had my hair to my shoulders at one point now its so close to my head I wouldnt even call it an inch. I agree it starts with just trying to get it all even. then it spirals out of control. for hrs and hrs . all night long when everyone is asleep. then i wake up and see what I have done and cry. beat myself up for awhile calling myself names. then it starts all over because I have to fix it. BUT ITS NEVER FIXED!!!!!!!!!!!!! Then the worst part comes , I have to live looking like this which seems like an eternity. And it is an eternity because I am constantly fixing it. It has ruined relationships with every aspect of my life. personal , family, workplace . All ruined . Too embarassed to go out of the house for the way I look. I just want to hide til it grows out then evreything will be alright I tell myself.

  • Aimee

    says on:
    December 28, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    I am so glad to know I’m not alone. I started compulsively cutting my hair about 7 years ago and though I have had periods where I won’t cut (while on SSRIs) I always end up cutting again. I finally shaved my head earlier this year. It was very liberating for me, yet also difficult as I am a woman and there were all kinds of looks, questions and comments. Much love to you!

  • Claire Morgan

    says on:
    January 2, 2016 at 8:20 am

    So glad I am not alone with this! I am 60 and have difficulty remembering when I started. I was a hairdresser so maybe that was the start as I have always done my own hair. Constantly cutting my hair seems to flare up in times of stress I think or boredom. I start with just a tiny bit but if my hair feels uneven or top heavy the scissors come out as I always feel it needs to be even with no thick parts and so it starts and my hair gets shorter and shorter, especially at the neck can’t remember when I had any length there. I even had an embarrassing moment when someone thought i was a man from the back. But still I carried on. It grows a bit and I think great its looking good but the moment someone compliments me I get the scissors out within days. just a tidy up I say but getting it even means it gets shorter and shorter. I also get stressed if any grey shows up so tint my hair often and am obsessed by that too. I have tried hiding the scissors but have resorted to using nail scissors – help please. hair is presently about 2 inches all over with no body and feels thin.

  • Carrie

    says on:
    January 18, 2016 at 1:52 am

    Yup. For me, it’s the idea of shaving my eyebrows off. I obsess over it when I am stressed out. It’s all I can think about, and I convince myself that if I do it, the anxiety will go away. Which, of course, it doesn’t. It looks awful and I immediately regret it. I’ve only given in a few times to completely shaving them off — but I do often nick at the edges with my razor. Ugh, it’s awful. =(

  • Lynn

    says on:
    February 7, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    You are not alone. The last time I was at a hairdresser was 2007. I am 50, but when I was in my teens until 2007 I was always known for my great beautiful thick long hair. Since that year I have been whittling it down to what is now a very short cut that makes me feel like I play for the other team. I wouldn’t mind getting it cut professionally to fix it, but that would make it even shorter, and what if I cut afterwards??? It is uneven with grey. I don’t want to color it because I know that coloring may cause cancer which runs in my family. It makes me not want to be around people, even avoid my family at times. It has caused me to feel very alone at times. Sometimes I would joke with my cat, who I put down this year at 20 years old, that her hair was longer than mine! I may go a couple of weeks without really going at it, but all it takes is one episode and then I am back to square one. In winter wearing a hood or hat just makes it even more gross and the desire to fix pops up even more. Interestingly in researching this disorder, I realized that at five years old I was a thumb-sucker who sincerely wanted help to stop that habit. Then came skin-picking at ten, then anorexia and bulimia at 16 for a couple of years and now at this late stage of the game, trichotemnomania. I view it as all related. I absolutely love weeding and pruning gardens and flower beds, which I realized is probably a parallel outlet of sorts. My work is with databases and I absolutely love ‘cleaning’ up data and manipulating it with MS Excel. I feel that is related in some way also. I wish there was more information on this. In the 80’s there was little info on eating disorders when I was going through it, so perhaps one day there will be more research and help for trichotemnomania. I sort of feel this is a 20th century disorder born by advertising. Before they invented mirrors, would people really have cared so much about their hair, when they didn’t even know what they really looked like? I feel society plays a part in the pressure they put on those with this disorder. I find what helps me cope is a confidence and firm belief that if you are a nice person, the right kind of people will gravitate towards you and love you for who you are, and not necessarily what you look like. I know myself that I could care less how well-dressed or good-looking someone is, if they are deep-down self-centered, arrogant and shallow. If they happen to be beautiful and kind then the kindness is what shines through in my books anyway and can make anyone attractive.

  • beth

    says on:
    March 12, 2016 at 11:31 pm

    I felt I wrote what nbs wrote word by word. TOTALLY word by word. This thing has destroyed every relationship I have ever had . I have managed to alienate my self from people who once loved me to people who now despise me now because they just don’t get whats wrong with me. Omg! I don’t even get whats wrong with me! I have no income because I quit my job . I was to embarrassed to go to work after the hack job I did on my hair , got tired of the strange looks. I feel like a freak. All I want to do is understand why . Why do I do this. Why am I punishing my self. because that’s how it feels

  • Dyan Devere

    says on:
    March 28, 2016 at 5:56 am

    Well…it’s good to see others have this issue…but it sure looks like no one had a solution. I am contemplating anti depressants, even though I hats meds…to see if they can help?? I am trying to get a doc to diagnose this so I can go on disability… As I rarely like to go out of the house. I can’t find a boyfriend…they like long hair. I do have lupus too…so I often blame my hair on that…but I know it’s me…I have this disorder. It is embarrassing to admit when you have a problem. And I want to be able to fix it myself. But can’t seem to…what can we do??

  • Dyan

    says on:
    March 30, 2016 at 12:15 am

    inhave a need for perfection and for my hair to ‘feel right’. If it doesn’t … I try to cut it! Now it’s just super short. I have to cover with a wig cuz it’s just too short and I’m embarrassed. I don’t even want to leave the house.

  • keisha

    says on:
    May 13, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    I am just interested in all this because there has NEVER been a name for it before. And everyone declares it ‘crazy’. Even the latest therapists don’t have a clue up. They were in the backwoods up here just for bodily dysmphormic disorder. Which I know it all entails, OCD, PSTD, anxiety disorders,etc. Which of course I all have. I know the other TRICH. disorder of hair-pulling is similar and is a major topic. And thus the CUTTING. But as I used to describe to my therapist…I am a ‘cutter’…but not to myself, but to my hair. To me the same. With no pain, only within. So I have been trying to find a site, or someone/thing that has a ‘label’ to this disorder. I was happy to see I only once in google. there is such a disease/disorder. A NAME. So….thanx for the site.

    • Aimee

      says on:
      June 10, 2016 at 2:53 pm

      Check out Trichotemnomania Alliance on Facebook! 😃

  • keisha

    says on:
    May 13, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    BY THE WAY I DID THE DEED AFTER UMPTEEM YEARS…I THINK IT STARTED WHEN I WAS 16. BUT THEN I WAS NORMAL…STARING IN THE MIRROR. AFTER THE LOSS OF A FIANCE, FATHER, HUSBAND, KEPT MY FAMILY GOING–ONE DAUGHTER GREATLY ALIVE, WHEN IT FELL APART, AND STARTED CUTTING AND CUTTING TO 6 YEARS OF SHAVEN HEAD, AND CAN’T GET PAST IT.

    • Jo

      says on:
      June 11, 2016 at 12:18 am

      Yep…y’all sound like me…so this is definitely a problem. I just shaved my head and feel ‘liberated’ but wonder if it will last??

      Once it grows…if there’s any uneven parts…I’ll need to try to ‘fix it’. So that’s our problem?! We ge the need to du trim this part of our lives because we can’t control other parts. But we can’t really control this part either…and then our ‘failure’ us on display for the world to see!

      I wear wigs…and have for four years. I’m embarrassed as I think people can tell they are wigs…but I have to do it. People don’t understand . They can’t. If I try to explain… They really think I’m crazy. Easier to tell them I have alopecia (sp)? I dint like to lie…but…

      Thank God funky hairstyles are kind of in style now!!

  • Kitty

    says on:
    August 30, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    thanks to all for sharing your experiences. I’ve had this for 16 years now and have a pattern very similar to Lynn … am now in my early 50s and suffered from trichotillomania at the age of 16 (unknowingly) then developed anorexia at age 18 – I’ve never had treatment and still have anorexic tendancies but manage to maintain control of my weight through exercise rather than food limitation. I then went through a skin picking stage in my late twenties and early thirties and finally at 40 started this – the worst of all in my view … despite this I hold down a good job – even if some days its such a struggle even to leave the house … I feel I am relatively intelligent but struggle to feel ‘normal’ although I don’t think people know what I am going through as I wear wigs ,,, it is however a lonely, secret life and there are times I wonder how long I’ll be able to continue – I have a wonderful daughter who supports me and more than anything I would like to be ‘cured’ for her – I don’t really understand what has caused this but I do agree with the person who said its a desire to control one’s life when other elements are out of control – like most people that have shared their thoughts here I thought I was fairly alone in doing this so its very reassuring to know I’m not and hopefully the more awareness that is raised about this disorder the more that can be done to help people who are genuinely suffering as a result of it…

    Thanks again

    • Aimee M.

      says on:
      September 6, 2016 at 11:41 am

      Hello:

      I am so sorry you’re struggling. You indeed are not alone. Please check out Trichotemnomania Alliance on Facebook. Also, I’m interested in doing a survey in connection with Trichotemnomania. Please respond if interested! Thank you!

      Aimee

  • Aimee Muul

    says on:
    September 16, 2016 at 6:23 pm

    Hi everyone:

    I’ve started a private members-only group on facebook for those of us with Trichotemnomania. Other BFRBs are welcome too. Please check it out if you like. https://www.facebook.com/groups/301566846877064/. I have also started a blog on my experience with this disorder. That is located at: http://www.trichotemnomaniafoundation.com. Hope you are all well!

    Aimee

    • Kala

      says on:
      September 19, 2016 at 9:57 am

      Aimee,

      I am so glad to hear that you are starting a movement for trichotemnomania! Please keep us updated on progress

      Kala – CBSN

      • Aimee Muul

        says on:
        September 19, 2016 at 1:41 pm

        Kala – thank you for the encouragement! I am excited to see how many people we can bring together!!

        ~Aimee

    • Dani

      says on:
      October 2, 2016 at 11:56 am

      Hi Aimee,

      Thank God for you… I found your blog last night after going through a huge hair cutting binge for the past three weeks. I am so disappointed and disgusted with myself; I feel so lost and scared everytime this happens. I had gone for an entire year not cutting my hair and it was finally getting long again; I had actually made it down to my shoulders and I SWORE I was never going to cut again — but then I had some very taxing stress and things just started spiraling from there. My family has tried to support me by confiscating the scissors, but somehow I always end up find a pair without even trying — my seven year old left a pair out on my bedroom floor yesterday… I walked past them for four hours before I just couldn’t take it any more. I had been cutting my hair non-stop for three weeks and had two ‘clean’ days (no cutting), but as soon as I spotted those scissors, I knew it was over. I feel like a junkie, totally dirty and gross. Usually when I’ve cut in the past, I’ve been very methodical about the process, but this time, I’m just snipping and cutting randomly wherever there seems to be a hair out of place. It always starts under the guise of just ‘dusting’ the ends of my hair, but then of course, I’ll feel some spot that is uneven or looks unbalanced and then it’s just game over. I’m now down to hair that is about 2-3 inches long all around my head and it’s completely wrecked. My only saving grace is that I have curly hair so it just fro’s up and pretty much, no one can tell how jacked it is – at least not according to my husband. And the worst thing is that I HATE the way I look with short hair! It sucks so bad because my hair is really beautiful when it is long – I’m a black female and I wear my hair natural, and when it’s long and big, I get compliments upon compliments about how beautiful it is. I just want to hide and not see anyone because the pain of feeling so flawed is unbearable, even though I KNOW IT IS NOT REAL. I have joined a free OCD group in Pasadena that starts week after this and I am PRAYING that it will offer me the support I need to get through this.

      • carrie

        says on:
        April 7, 2017 at 3:26 pm

        Hi Dani,

        We share the same struggle. My fiance is currently hiding my scissors for me.

        The worst part is having to go out in public with a smile on our face, pretending like everythings Ok, when we are dying inside.

        If you would like someone to talk to, lmk,

        -C

  • Aimee

    says on:
    September 17, 2016 at 10:08 am

    I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease last month. I see above that another commenter has lupus. I wonder how many of us share the autoimmune factor (many without knowing) and whether inflammation is a factor.

  • Jake

    says on:
    February 5, 2017 at 10:18 pm

    Help.. I am a guy struggling with this. First I thought it wastrichotillomania but after reading this I realize I habe the same feelings as most of you on this post. My scalp hurts from all the plucking.. The worst partt is.. I know I can beat this. I believe if I constantly evolve my tecniques fighting it maybe I can keep ahead of this wicked evil disorder.. Im at the point now where I realize I wont have a hairline and I feel stupid for not taking care of this in the last 6 months, ive been fighting this for five years now I cant concentrate on much else but trich.. I dont expect to chat with any of you but I think it helps me to type my feelings. I just hope you all can sort of just give up fighting it/styling it and just be able to be at peace. Thanks for reading:(

  • carrie

    says on:
    April 7, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    Hi Guys,

    Been struggling with variations of this since freshman year of highschool, I am not 31. Started with lip picking, moved to eyebrow plucking and then at 18 moved to hair. I have had a buzz cut length hair cut with varying degrees of pixies (when im lucky to have a few inches) for 13 years. The response of people actually triggers me and makes it worse, so I found after a while its best to not tell anyone the truth, even therapists were of no help, They looked at me and thought I looked cute with a pixie cut, so how could this really be a problem? They dont understand the helplessness of not being able to stop, cutting in the bathroom for so many hours until your whole body hurts. Avoiding work or social interactions, so much shame, guilt and confusion. I want to stop, but why can’t I? No one can understand why you cant stop, the worst thing is “if you really wanted to stop, you would”. That is so far from the truth and everytime someone says anything like that it just pushes you into a shame spiral that will inevitably end in more cutting.
    Interestingly enough, compliments would even do that too. I find when I get a compliment on my appearence it triggers me to cut as well. There is no explaining this madness, as Im sure you all will understand.
    I am happy to report for the first time in 14 years I am able to wear a bobby pin in my hair, I have been able to grow it out to 4 inches in the front which is a massive success for me. I am still cutting but the severity has somewhat decreased.
    I believe this is because I have a live in boyfriend now so I have less time alone, and less stressful dating experiences which are a huge trigger for this issue.
    I have tried hundreds of supplements and counseling over the years to no avail, but over the past year have found some relief with Glycine, Lithium Orotate and L-Glutamine. They can all be bought on amazon and I would suggest anyone to try them as they are affordable and safe.
    Much Love,
    -C

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