Why do I pull out my eyelashes?

Even though over 4% of the population also suffer, like me, from a little known condition*, I have to screw up my courage to write about it since my instinct is to hide it, as I have always done. My condition has the (appropriately bizarre ) name of Trichotillomania, a scary scientific word for hair pulling. Yes, that’s right. I pull my own eyelashes out. And just to stop you right there, no, I can’t ‘just stop doing it’. So, why do I pull out my eyelashes?

I’ve pulled out my eyelashes since I was a child, but didn’t realize that it was a legitimate condition until I was older. It was hard to find any information, and I wasn’t about to talk about it or tell my parents how I ate my eyelashes. Crazy as it sounds, for a very long time I didn’t even realize that I had a ‘condition’. I felt like I would stop one day, using my own will. I mean I’m an intelligent person, right? Surely I could stop pulling out my eyelashes. Every time I’d have a bad episode I’d sit myself down, give myself a good talking to, and then swear to myself that it was the last time. It never worked, of course. And that was soul destroying, undermining my confidence and draining my energy. I felt frustration, resignation, and shame. But the penny still hadn’t dropped. It wasn’t until a doctor announced that I had a ‘condition’ that everything fell into place. I had to look at myself honestly and face my condition. And that’s when my cure really started.

I went online looking for natural products and solutions, but found nothing. What I did find however was quite a lot of doom and gloom. There was a general fatalist attitude that didn’t ring true with me. While I wanted to be in a community of people that understood, I realized that if I began to participate the defeatist attitude would bring me down.

So I focused on treatments that made the most sense to me from a philosophical point of view. I wanted something constructive, forward thinking and proactive. I read about behavior modification, self-awareness, neural programming (creating new channels in our brains to change behaviors) and visualization. I wanted to avoid medication and chemicals. I wanted to improve my diet and body. Basically I wanted something that would help me build a ‘new reality’. And although it took a lot of trial and error, it worked in the end.

And that is what I want every eyelash and hair puller to understand. Forget the pity parties, the medication or the empty advice. The important thing is to get a structured system in place that works for you. There are quite a few universal understandings and methods that can help an eyelash puller put together their own treatment:

– accept that eyelash pulling is a legitimate medical condition; you can’t ‘just stop’
– do your research to understand the condition
– know that you will never be a ‘non-puller’, but an ‘ex-puller’. I equate it to being an ex-smoker. Sometimes little urges pop up and you have to centre yourself. It gets easier with time, but you must remain self-aware and careful.
– review different treatment methods and try them all. The reasons for trich seem to be varied, as are the effective treatments. What works for one person might not work for another, so find your own method, or combination of methods
-be aware of your triggers and cultivate self awareness
– use natural products and methods such as aromatherapy, hypnosis, and essential oils
– concentrate on behavior modification for long term results. What was very powerful for me was reprogramming the neural pathways by using essential oils to rub in whenever I got an urge. Gradually my brain began giving the message to stroke rather than pulling whenever I had an urge

And most importantly, BE KIND TO YOURSELF. Stop beating yourself up because you have no ‘willpower’ or demanding immediate success. You will need time to put new actions into place. You will stumble and slip. But as you gain more knowledge, as you continue to try different methods, you will have longer and longer times between pulling episodes until one day you will notice that you haven’t pulled for months and your eyelashes have grown back.

Lets not beat around the bush. Beating eyelash pulling is DIFFICULT. But I want pullers to know that it IS possible. I’m not sure I really believed it was possible until I took the decision to change my mindset, and I do feel that is crucial to curing trich. It is also important to understand that beating trich and behavior modification is gradual, and back-sliding can be a natural part of the process. So if you do fall off the wagon, just pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start again.

I want you to know, from one eyelash puller to another, that it is my firm belief that with a personal plan and a positive outlook you can beat eyelash pulling.

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