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This could be with me forever

When I first started pulling out my eyebrows at 10 years old the only thing I wanted to do was stop. I couldn't believe what I was doing. I hated what I was doing. It was like I had no control over my own body. My hands especially, had a mind of their own, finding the perfect hairs without me realizing and rubbing the root across my lips. Over and over and over again. Bald spots were forming. I was sucked into the trichotillomania trance for hours each day. Leaving my room more hairless than just moments before. All I wanted to do was STOP and guess what? I couldn't.

For years my goal was the same: STOP. Anytime I pulled out a hair I berated myself. I thought of myself as weak and ugly. I thought that I wasn't trying hard enough. And the sad part is that those ideas were, intentionally or not, reinforced by those around me. The doctors, therapists, psychiatrists and I all had the same goal so as I continued to pull out my hair I was met with sighs and looks that screamed disappointment. How come I couldn't stop?

I kept living my life with only one goal and without realizing it, kept myself in a negative cycle. I wasn't able to start healing. I didn't even know what healing truly meant. For me, healing meant stopping and that wasn't happening. I continued doing the same thing that gave me the same results. Sadness and shame but still I continued.

Only as an adult did I realize that everything I was told, and what I told myself, was wrong. I couldn't cure my trichotillomania by trying harder. I wasn't weak. I was doing my best with a disorder that I never asked for that physically alters my appearance and negatively impacts my life. Why hadn't anyone tried to lift me up? Give me words of encouragement? Tell me this wasn't my fault? I was just a kid.

After that realization I began my true healing journey. I looked at my life with trichotillomania, noticing that I've had it for longer than I haven't, and acknowledged the thought I'd been dreading my whole life: This could be with me forever.

I had pushed my trichotillomania to the side, year after year, wanting nothing to do with it. Hoping and praying that if I ignored it long enough it would go away but it never did. Wasn't it time for me to open my eyes and see that this chronic disorder might actually be chronic for me too? That I'm not the chosen one who will find a cure when so many others haven't? This could be with me forever.

My next thought, If this could be with me forever then what do I do? I couldn't continue down the same path, it wasn't healthy. I needed something different. This mindset was different. The opposite of how I had been living my life so let's do the opposite of what I did before. Instead of fighting against my trichotillomania and hating it with every fiber of my being, let's make amends and show it love.

I quickly began to notice a difference in not only my trichotillomania but within myself. I started treating myself kindly, more gently and lovingly. I used to enjoy being cruel to my trichotillomania without truly realizing that the cruelty I spoke negatively impacted more than just the disorder. It hurt me. It hurt my inner child. So I changed it. Whenever I pulled, I said kind words to myself. I encouraged myself. I began to love myself unconditionally. Big emphasis on unconditionally! That meant with or without hair or eyelashes. I began to ask questions like, "What do I need right now?" I made positive lifestyle changes. I was growing into a person I adored, trichotillomania and all.

My life changed for the better after I began a more positive relationship with my trichotillomania. Everything improved. Everything. So whenever I find myself thinking, This could be with me forever. I smile to myself and think, So what if it is?

Mina and Enza Photography

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