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Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013
Talking does more good than hidingPosted Wednesday, November 28, 2012, at 5:07 PM
A few weeks ago I poured my heart out in a column about the psychological disorder that has been dominating my life for the last 12 years: Trichotillomania.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), Trichotillomania is defined as recurrent pulling out of one's hair resulting in noticeable hair loss; an increasing sense of tension immediately before pulling out the hair or when attempting to resist the behavior; and pleasure, gratification, or relief when pulling out the hair.
I was terrified. I cried as I wrote the words I had spent so much of my life trying to hide. I nearly sent myself into anxiety attacks trying to decide if I was ready to share my darkest secret.
I feared people would think my disorder was based purely on cosmetic issues, and not understand the emotional aspects that come along with Trich.
But, I was pleasantly surprised by the support and lack of judgement I received from friends, family and strangers.
I thought there would be at least one person who just didn't quite understand -- not that I expected anyone to really understand -- and tried to prepare myself for the backlash. There was no negativity at all.
I learned a lesson through sharing my story -- sometimes our biggest fears are only manifested within ourselves.
Since sharing my story, not only did I meet my goal in helping others, but I was able to help myself more than I had ever imagined.
I've become more aware of my disorder, and as I sit and write this column I have been "pull-free" for five days.
I have had people from all over the country cheer me on in my strongest moments, and reassuring me during my weakest moments.
I challenge others to do the same if you find yourself in the depths of uncertainty. Hiding your feelings and fears does more harm than good.
Since telling my story I've become more comfortable with myself. I still worry about what my hair looks like sometimes, but not overwhelmingly so anymore.
My biggest fear had always been, "What if someone I know finds out my secret? Will they think I am crazy?"
I no longer have that burden weighing on my shoulders. I don't want anyone to see the lack of hair on my scalp, but I know my family, friends and coworkers love me for who I am -- not what I look like.
And, from what I've been told, I'm pretty awesome.
If you are not ready to share your story with the people in your life, there are other options to speak with those who have endured similar circumstances.
I've joined several online forums and Facebook pages to talk to other people who suffer from this disorder, and I cannot believe how helpful it has been to talk to people from all over the world who can completely understand when I'm having a hard day.
My sister and best friend have been my strongest supporters and best cheer sqaud through my ups and downs. But, they've both admitted they get frustrated because they don't fully understand, and often don't know what to say or do to help.
We are not alone in any fight, especially the ones that overtake our minds when it feels like the world may just start crumbling at your feet.
I'll continue to tell my story via social media, online forums and word of mouth in hopes of inspiring someone to do the same -- just like I was by strangers who spoke out.
As I've said so many times before, no matter what, you are loved. You have a purpose.
Sabrina is a staff writer for the Greene County Daily World. She can be reached by email at email@example.com or by telephone at 847-4487.
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