This is something that I recently found out, and to be honest, I never knew this is a disease of the mind, the stigmatized term of the contempo society- a mental illness. Trichotillomania (TTM) is the recurrent pulling of one’s hair, resulting in hair loss. It is a close cousin of dermatillomania (compulsive skin picking), which fall under the category of Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviours (BFRBs).
TTM has been an on-going issue with me since I was 18, more specifically it happened when I was studying STPM, a Malaysia tertiary education. I thought it was normal to pull my hair but it was not. It started just off a whim, I did not knew what caused it, I only had a vague approximation of when it started. For almost two years, I remained oblivious about it and attempted to quit the action of pulling my hair consciously but to no avail.
After a brief research on the web according to the DSM-5 (A ‘Bible’ for mental illnesses) and a couple of Youtube videos of other people suffering from the same situation, I am diagnosed with this mental illness. I am not shrouded in fear but rather in the state of shock and surprise.
Initially, it was a pleasurable stimulant for myself after pulling my hair out. My mind reckoned that it was some sort of stress-coping mechanism, and I accepted it as such for a year or so. Time passed and I noticed that wherever I went, I sure left some strands of my hair there, the worst times were when I was having any form of examination, I could easily pile up a miniature mountain of my own hair. Fucking disgusting. That was what I thought, but it was not helping in anyway whatsoever. I did have bald spots recurring from time to time, even the hairdressers did question my symptoms, I just replied nonchalantly with jest every single time.
The ‘natural’ act of pulling my hair occurs whenever I was bored or anxious. Primarily, it was the anxiety which results in my fingers curling my hair. Pulling them left pricks of stimulants on my skin, which kept me ‘satisfied’. I conjectured that dermatillomania had the similar symptoms and effects as it fell in the same category as TTM.
It was until my fingertips that I used to pull my hair began to hurt, I plastered it and the sickness stopped for a week or so miraculously. I did not know who to confront and so I only have God and the internet to help me, perhaps a little candor on this blog might also help with my condition. I know that mental illnesses are a norm nowadays, but it is still a stigma to individuals, especially the ones in Asian countries (to my knowledge) or even the world.
Now, after a writing all these out, hopefully I can get some awareness spread into the netizen’s community. I am getting better by the days to come. Somehow, when I realised that I have a mental illness, I do cut down on pulling my hair and substituted with other movements, like doing nothing. Conveniently, it works.
I pray that everyone that have this mental illness will be well. Please do go see a psychiatrist or psychologist about it and acknowledge that it is a sickness (including dermatillomania)- do not be in the state of denial, it never helps, at all.
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