Trichotillomania: Managing anxiety with grace and patience

Trichotillomania: Managing anxiety with grace and patience

If you’ve been following along, you know that my oldest, a 13-year-old 8th grader, suffers from the impulse control disorder (ICD) called Trichotillomania. Trich for short.

Trich is the most common ICD nobody’s ever heard of. People with trich impulsively pull out the hair on their bodies, usually without realizing it.

My girl pulls out her eyelashes and eyebrows, and the hair from her scalp. It’s a rather dramatic look, but I think she’s beautiful.

Having such a unique look and struggling with the trich makes being in school tough by itself, but it’s the homework that stresses her out the most. Anxiety is her regular companion.

She struggles with feeling overwhelmed by her homework, and she has a hard time breaking multiple assignments down into manageable bits.

Math is her least favorite subject and the language arts is accelerated, so it truly challenges her.

A couple of days ago, she came home with a math assignment as her only new homework. However, she had a fairly sizable language arts assignment she put off doing over the long Labor Day weekend, and it was due the next day, as well as the math assignment.

She was in tears trying to wrap her anxiety-gripped brain around getting everything done.

And I had no idea she was struggling.

When she came home from school that day, I was still at work. She told her dad, “Tell Mom and [my little sis] that I don’t want to be disturbed. I have homework to do, so I’ll be in my room doing it.”

I let her be for a little while, but while my guy went to pick up our youngest from after school activities, I felt a sudden pull on my spirit to check on her. I went against my oldest’s wishes and “disturbed” her.

She was lying in bed crying, completely overwhelmed with the workload she faced that evening.

Praise God I followed the tug on my spirit to check on her!

We chatted. I consoled and encouraged. I offered her grace for not getting more of the language arts project done over the weekend.

We made a plan together on how to get the work done. She’s done so well this year turning her work in on time and putting good effort into everything, that I didn’t want to disrupt that flow.

Then, I went against everything in my over-acheiving self to see my girl for who she is – I told her if necessary, she could turn the project in a day late.

I didn’t want to give her that cushion. It goes against everything in me. However, she is not me. She is her own unique, gifted, talented, quirky anxiety-ridden kid that needed permission to not be perfect.

I asked her to move to the kitchen so that I could help her and encourage her. She came to the kitchen, dug into her math homework and was done in no time.

She ate dinner with all of us, took a short break (she paces with music playing in her earbuds to calm the anxiety), then began working on the language arts project.

She worked really hard for hours. Her greatest concern earlier in the day was that she was going to have to “work on it all night.” She was right. She worked on it until after 10pm, but she finished the project and turned it in on time the next day.

I am so proud of her. Nothing is easy for her, except art. Everything else is laden with stress.

I have found that by giving her grace and forgiveness on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis, just as God does for me, that she can accept being imperfect and move forward. Giving her permission to “fail” gave her the motivation she needed to succeed.

Whatever it takes to coach her through these tough teenage years is what we’ll give her, because she’s our girl, and we love her.

 1 Corinthians 15:10 (ESV)

10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

Philippians 4:13 (ESV)

13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.


How do you offer grace to your kids? What struggles do you face regularly and how do you manage them?

Tell me about it here, then please come over to my Facebook page so that we can encourage each other! You’ll find memes, devotionals, loving and uplifting conversations – it’s quite different from most of Facebook!

If you liked this post about how we manage the stresses of Trichotillomania, check out this link to all the other posts in this category:

Trichotillomania Categorized Stories

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