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Relating TTPD lyrics to my trichotillomania experience

I will look for any excuse to listen to and/or talk about Taylor Swift because I love her! After listening to The Tortured Poets Department and crying my eyes out, I noticed that so many of her lyrics in this album pulled on my heartstrings because I was able to relate them, not only to my own experience with love, but to my relationship with trichotillomania, the hair-pulling disorder.

I've had trichotillomania for longer than I haven't. It's my longest relationship (Taylor has said this about her fans hehe) and it is one that I had to battle with until I ultimately found peace. It was turbulent!

Please enjoy as I break down different lyrics from the The Tortured Poets Department and let me know if you relate!

I love you, it's ruining my life

I love you, it's ruining my life

-Fortnight (feat. Post Malone)

One of the hardest things in my experience with trichotillomania was coming to terms with the fact that I actually enjoy the behavior. I like to pull out my hair. It feels good, it's satisfying, it's fun, BUT I hate the aftermath.

The bald spots that I would create in my scalp, entire eyebrows and eyelashes missing, ruined my life. I felt like I had to avoid activities that I loved like swimming. I couldn't build close relationships with others because I felt like I was hiding something yet I was too ashamed to share. And the most upsetting: trichotillomania ruined the relationship I had with myself. I hated myself because I blamed myself for not being able to stop. I hated how I looked. It stole my confidence. Simply existing outside of my bedroom was hell on earth.

And I'm pissed off you let me give you all that youth for free

-So Long, London

I started pulling out my eyebrows at 10 years old and quickly moved to my eyelashes and hair from my scalp. While other children were playing together after school I was in the car on my way to a new doctor to hopefully find out what was wrong with me. I didn't know of any other child my age going to therapy. It added to the shame I felt around my disorder. I look back and desperately wish I had what one might consider a "normal childhood" where my biggest worries revolved around toys and play dates rather than bald eyelids and cold offices.

Too high a horse

For a simple girl to rise above it

They slammed the door on my whole world

The one thing I wanted

-But Daddy I Love Him

The only thing I wanted was for someone to tell me the cure to my trichotillomania. I would have done anything. I would have taken anything. Finding out that what I was experiencing was indeed a chronic disorder made me sick to my stomach. It took many years for me to accept that.

So tell me everything is not about me

But what if it is?

Then say they didn't do it to hurt me

But what if they did?

-Who's Afraid of Little Old Me?

Elementary and middle school students aren't the best at subtly asking questions. There really isn't much forethought when they see someone who looks different. They typically just blurt out whatever they're thinking without considering how it could affect the other person. I have tons of memories of my peers blurting out in front of everyone, "Barbara! Where are your eyebrows?" Leaving me speechless and feeling very much like a deer in headlights. Because of my trichotillomania I never even considered putting someone on the spot or pointing out something that was "wrong" with someone. I didn't have to wonder if they were just curious, I knew they said it to embarrass me.

'Cause I'm a real tough kid, I can handle my shit

They said, "Babe, you gotta fake it 'til you make it" and I did

Lights, camera, bitch smile, even when you wanna die

-I Can Do It With a Broken Heart

Being a kid with trichotillomania comes with a lot of pressure. I put pressure on myself to stop pulling, of course, but I also felt pressure to be a good daughter and friend. I put on the bravest face I could and tried my best to act like a normal girl my age. Like I mentioned earlier, I didn't want to leave my room but I would force myself again and again. I would smile and take pictures knowing the whole time I would hate what I looked like and wish the pictures could be deleted.

You see, I was a debutante in another life, but

Now I seem to be scared to go outside

I hate it here so I will go to secret gardens in my mind

People need a key to get to, the only one is mine

I read about it in a book when I was a precocious child

No mid-sized city hopes and small-town fears

I'm there most of the year 'cause I hate it here

I hate it here

-I Hate it Here

I developed a fear of wind. It might sound bizarre to you but ask anyone in the trichotillomania community and they will say the same thing. When you are missing hair from your scalp the wind becomes your enemy. It will expose you and we don't want that now do we? NO! I remember walking out the door only to turn around and go back inside to put my hair in a ponytail or bun because I felt the slightest breeze.

Trichotillomania is a self-soothing behavior by nature and the trichotillomania trance is self-soothing on overdrive. My brain is blank but yet I am hyper-focused. I am pulling out my hair over and over and over again yet I feel calm and happy. When I'm having a bad day it's easy to fall into the trance and stay in my own little world. Time doesn't exist in the trichotillomania trance and I could be pulling for hours on end without realizing it.

All that time you were throwin' punches, I was buildin' somethin'

And I can't forgive the way you made me feel

Screamed, "Fuck you, Aimee" to the night sky as the blood was gushin'

But I can't forget the way you made me heal

-thanK you aIMee

There was nothing I hated more in my life than my trichotillomania but I was able to learn to accept it and quite frankly, love it. It has taught me so much about myself and what it means to be and feel beautiful. It broke me down but then built me back up as a much stronger and empathic person. It has brought me the most amazing and supportive community. It has changed my life for the better.

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