I see on various forums where people post their successes. . . “50 days pull-free!” and I can’t help but wonder where they started. I don’t think I have ever had one pull-free day. It’s not that I have not tried, believe me, I have, but I don’t know when I am doing it. I try to catch myself, and I do quite a bit, but there are many other times when I realize I have been pulling for the last five minutes and I didn’t even know it.

So how does one start when you don’t even know you’re doing it?

I have read that there are three different types of pullers — those who do it completely subliminally, like in a trance, those who do it cognitively, like pulling until they find that perfect hair, and then there are those who do both. I am pretty sure there are more people who fall into the “both” category, myself included.

I have been trying to pay attention more to not only my triggers, but times when I seem to pull for no reason at all. I notice that I pull when my hands have nothing else to do. When I am driving, when I am reading, etc. Any time my fingers are not twiddling something, fidgeting, touching something with texture.

There is something in the way my brain is wired — my fingers need constant stimulation. When I am not touching something with some sort of texture or fidgeting with a slinky or something I can feel my anxiety creep in. I am not going to pretend to understand why, but it is a definite fact.

I have always been a fidgeter, even before I developed Trichotillomania. I have always had to play with something in my hands, tap my foot, twirl a pen and that sort of thing. Somehow it developed into hair pulling when I was a teen. I never really thought about it until I started to realize that having something in my hand to play with took the edge off the urge to pull. So far it is the most satisfying thing to me besides the hair pulling.

I have always been kind of embarrassed by the fidgeting, I thought it was a bad habit or that it was annoying other people. I thought it was weird and I tried to stop doing it whenever I was in public as much as possible. Now I have learned that a lot of people do it. A lot. Most just don’t develop into hair pulling.

So now I am trying to make sure that I always have a fidget toy or something to hold, to play with. When I am typing I am good as long as my fingers stay on the keys. If I stop for a moment to gather my thoughts my hand goes straight for my hair. So I have a little rubber spiky ball and a little pink plastic slinky on either side of my keyboard that I hurry and grab before my hand goes to my head. I am trying to train my brain, alter that routine to reaching out for a fidget rather than going up. I have read about muscle memory, and I think a lot of my hand going straight up to my head all the time is because it has done it for so long. It’s like a reflex at this point. I am going to stay diligent and keep stuff to play with all the time.

I think that twirling a pen or something in my hand is a lot less noticeable than pulling my hair out, I just have to train my arm muscles and my brain to switch paths. Easier said than done.

Peaceful hands.

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Comments
  1. I also have a difficult time not pulling because I am only aware of what I am doing part of the time. I will hold things in my hand to not pull but I end up pulling with that hand anyway. I am not sure how some people end up with such high number of days with success. I am pretty sure I have not had a single day where I have been pull free. Success for me is when I have most of my eyebrows.

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