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Trichotillomania in Family Guy

Finding trichotillomania in random media is now one of my favorite hobbies. I never know when it will pop up but when it does I am thrilled! Even though it is rarely spoken about, and largely misunderstood, I'm seeing it more and more. Is it because trichotillomania is more common than people think? (It is!) Is it because it impacts more lives than we first thought? (It does!)

You can imagine my surprise when it popped up in an episode of Family Guy.

If you've read any of my other blogs, you already know that I don't like how trichotillomania was portrayed here. Wait—that's obvious! I don't think anyone in the trichotillomania community would look at this and think, They've got it! They've really hit the nail on the head! BUT this clip does bring up something I haven't written about before—how outside forces can negatively impact someone's trichotillomania.

Trichotillomania is a self-soothing behavior. There are tons of reasons why people turn to self-soothing behaviors—it doesn't even have to be a negative reason! I often find myself pulling after I've received good news! In this clip, Chris and Meg turn to pulling out their hair because they are witnessing their mother hurting their father. If you saw this happening in your own home, I'm sure your emotions would be all over the place and you'd find a way to self-soothe. Granted, you might not develop trichotillomania, but you'd find a way nonetheless.

This doesn't mean that trichotillomania stems solely from trauma. Although there are cases where trauma is the reason, there are more cases where the reason is unknown. That is what makes this disorder so complex and hard to manage. Why did my body/brain choose to self-soothe in this way?

Here are some outside forces that negatively impacted my trichotillomania growing up:

  • I had a big test that I felt unprepared for

  • Someone pointed out my missing eyebrows

  • A teacher called on me and I didn't know the answer

  • I have to go swimming and I have no eyelashes

  • It's picture day tomorrow

  • Someone stared at me too long

  • My parents are mad at me

  • The boy I like likes me back

  • I overslept

  • I don't have anything to wear

  • My friend said something annoying

  • I don't like my new haircut

Doesn't that sound like a list of normal things that everyone goes through? The answer is yes! The only difference is that my body/brain decided trichotillomania was the best way to self-soothe. As a 10 year old I had no idea what that meant. All I knew was I had an irresistible and uncontrollable urge to pull out my hair. As an adult, it has been my responsibility to learn how to self-soothe in other ways so I don't have to turn to my hair/eyebrows/eyelashes.

Here are some ways I self-soothe as an adult:

  • Take a warm shower

  • Do breathing exercises

  • Pet my dog

  • Listen to music I love

  • Talk to myself in a positive way

  • Cry if I need to

  • Walk my dog

As a 32 year old I still have an irresistible and uncontrollable urge to pull out my hair but I'm more prepared than ever before. I understand that I will have experiences that will cause me to self-soothe and I'm okay with that. It's all part of the human experience. It just so happens that my human experience comes with trichotillomania. I'm okay with that, too.

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