What I do to stop (temporarily)

Posted: February 11, 2015 in Things that help
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Although I have had trichotillomania since I was about 13, It has only been within the last couple of years that I have been trying to deal with it. One of the first things any therapist will tell you is to start trying to become more aware of when you are doing it. My first thought when I heard that was “Ya right, I do it all the time with no rhyme or reason to it, there is no method to my madness.”

But if you really focus and pay attention you will begin to notice triggers, patterns, peak pulling times. For me it is when ever someone or something makes me very uneasy, anxious, nervous. If I have to give a big presentation at work or take a call from an angry customer. I have begun to notice myself pulling at those times.

Then, when I seem to pull for no reason at all it is while I am driving and in the evening after dinner. I have not really found anything to stop myself from pulling in stressful situations like the two work related situations I described above. However, I have figured out a few things that sort of take the edge off the urge during other times.

Luckily, it has been really cold here so I can wear a hat. When I am wearing my hat I don’t feel the itchiness, I don’t feel the stray and kinky hairs poking out, so I always try to wear my hat when I am driving. If I can’t wear my hat I make sure to keep both of my hands on the steering wheel (which I suppose I’m supposed to do anyway) or I leave one hand on the wheel and the other resting on the console next to the window. As long as I can physically feel my hands toughing something I am reminded to keep them grounded and it is easier to keep them there. It is when my hands are touching nothing that they wander.

Evenings have been much more challenging. I have not quite figured out why I pull the most at night, I can go almost all day without doing it and then in the evenings I go crazy. Maybe it is that I am trying to wind down from the day or my hands are idle because I am relaxing on the couch, or maybe it is a combination of both.

At any rate, some of the things that have helped are sitting on my hands. It seems silly, but it goes back to the feeling something, having my hands in a solid position.

But art has been the greatest help so far. I bought these two coloring books, they are really cool, They are called Color Me and Color Me 3. I still need to get Color Me 2. I bought them at Costco for like $12. The pages are huge and the drawings are so detailed and intricate that it takes forever to complete one page. Not only does this keep my hands busy (one hand to hold the page and the other to color), it is very relaxing.

It sounds silly, I’m 34 and I color. But it is what has helped me the most in my peak pulling times, so if it helps I’ll take it, regardless of how silly it sounds. You know how this is, you’ll do anything to stop!

Do something to keep your hands busy! Knit, crochet, paint, weaving, braid doll hair, pet your dog/cat, play with a spikey bouncy ball or those tangle things.

And perhaps MOST importantly, BREATHE! The next time you catch yourself pulling notice how tight your chest is, how your breathing has changed. Does it feel like you’ve stopped breathing and your chest is tightening up? The pulling of the hair releases that and that is partially where we get the pleasure. The next time you feel that, take a deep cleansing breath before you pull, close your eyes if you want. Let go of the hair, take another deep breath. Take deep breaths until you feel the urge pass. It will.

Redirect the feeling you get from pulling. It’s so hard, I know, I have been doing this for 20 years. I know how frustrating it gets, there are days you say to yourself, “screw it, I can’t stop, so  I am not going to try.” Please keep trying. I will keep trying if you will. Let’s make an Internet pact.

Another couple of pieces of solid advice are to stop doubting yourself and stop negative self talk. I still need to master those two, but they have been pounded into my head since I first sought treatment, so I am going to share them here.

I wish I had good advice for how to achieve those two. I can’t stop thinking negatively about myself. I am not even sure where to start there. If you have been in that situation and have figured out a starting point please let me know.

Thanks for reading, may your hands be peaceful.

  1. I am finding that aggressively pursuing my dreams has almost stopped the pulling completely, except every-now-and-then during high-hormone times.


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