Last night I sat on my bed frustrated at the number of (eye)lashes on the sheet yet unable to prevent myself from plucking off more.
Trichotillomania is when someone has a constant urge to tug at or pull out their own hair to relieve tension. Recognised as a form of OCD, it most often involves hair on the scalp or on the face, including the eyelashes and the eyebrows.
I first learned of this as a disorder in 2021; I was preparing for a laboratory medicine assessment . After reading for two hours, I noticed lashes had accumulated on the page I was scribbling on. I googled it and found that it’s an anxiety disorder.
I think the crazy thing about this is knowing that it is an unhealthy relationship with #pain and some form of #selfharm yet being unable to properly control it because it is mostly a reflexive response by the body to relieve anxiety.
I’ve had symptoms for several years and never knew it was a disorder. In 2019, I recall plucking out all but two of the lashes on my right eye while preparing for my professional exams. This was also the year I first experienced panicattacks.
Learning about the disorder doesn’t mean I still do not have irresistible urges (like yesterday’s) but the knowledge helps me minimize harm and reduces the frequency of occurence.
What do I do?
• Acknowledge: 9/10 times my hands have already plucked several lashes before I catch on that I’m responding to anxiety. Last night it was a problem in my community that I’ve been trying to find a solution to that weighed heavily on my mind.
Whenever I become conscious, I take a moment to remind myself that this feeling is familiar and that I have overcome this before.
• Calm: I attain calm by engaging with words/sounds/breath control. I have a curated playlist that I plug in after taking deep breaths. If necessary, I engage in affirmations that remind me to center my thoughts.
• Avert: Most times, I cannot control my fingers immediately so I put on an eye mask or my glasses (prescribed lens) and sit calmly.
If you have ever had to deal with anxiety, panic attacks or trichotillomania, I’m sending virtual hugs and a reminder that you’ll be okay.
It’s advised to see a therapist if episodes increase in frequency.
N/B: The urges do not affect just my lashes… I almost always tie a scarf/wear a bonnet to prevent me from pulling my hair too.
How do you handle anxiety?
#ocd #anxietyawareness #anxietymanagement #anxietyrelief #mentalhealthawareness #mentalhealthmatters #trichotillomania