Trichotillomania: The new school year begins

Trichotillomania: The new school year begins

Trichotillomania (trich or TTM for short) is a hair-pulling disorder 1 in 50 people have. My oldest is that 1 in 50.

Today, she starts 7th grade, and I am relieved. I’m hoping the distraction of being back in school will help curb the compulsion.

She is a subconscious puller; she doesn’t even know she’s doing it until there is a pile of hair on the floor and bald spot on her head.

She doesn’t like to talk to me about the pulling, but she willingly talks to her therapist. At least she has someone, but it hurts to think that she doesn’t trust me enough to be that confidante.

Her closest school friends and our neighbors are terrific. They all know the situation, but accept her and love her just the way she is.

I adore my girl just as she is, too! As her mom (and a rescuer by nature), the hardest part is not being able to fix it for her.

Up until last November, she had a beautiful head of hair; long, rolling light brown curls that were as soft as down.

The pulling has resulted in a modified, uneven and prickly mullet. Honestly, if we could get her collick to sit down a little, it’d be a cute throwback hairstyle!

To help minimize questions from strangers or classmates that don’t know her, she wears stretchy headbands that I crochet.

I didn’t know until yesterday that of the two I’d made previously, one is too stretched out to wear and the other is missing. So, I stayed up late last night crocheting a couple of new ones.

This morning she woke to breakfast and two new headbands, one bright red and the other green (one of her school colors). She was grateful.

I’m pretty sure I’m more nervous about her starting a new school year than she is. As much as I’d like to keep her safe and protected at home, I know she needs to be in school, learning and socializing with peers.

She’s a tough kid. She doesn’t take any garbage from anyone – much like her momma. I know she will do fine, but my hope and prayer is that the kids around her treat her kindly.

So parents, I ask you to talk to your kids about people with trich.

If someone was bald or losing their hair due to chemotherapy, people around them would be sympathetic and caring. Some might even shave their heads in solidarity with the friend fighting a disease.

Someone battling trich should be given the same sympathy and solidarity.

No, I’m not asking people to shave their heads.

What I’m asking is that people try to understand that the person who is bald or has bald patches from trich has no control over whether or not they pull. They cannot “just stop pulling.” It doesn’t work that way.

There is no definitive cause, therapy or other treatment for trich. Those of us trying to cope with it are left to try different therapies with the hope that one might stick.

Every time we try something new, it’s a toss up whether or not it will work. We’ve tried fidgets, gadgets, stress balls (no, my daughter’s is NOT caused by stress), pencils, code words, therapy…so far, nothing has worked.

So this year, if you want to share something new with your kids, tell them about trichotillomania. Tell them that it’s not contagious and the person who has it just wants you to be their friend, whether or not they have hair.

Mark 9:36-37  (NIV)

36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

Matthew 18:10 (ESV)

10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”


Do you, or someone you know suffer from trichotillomania? What techniques have worked to help curb the pulling?

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