Shame. Not everyone knows the feeling of constant shame. Then again, I cannot speak for the masses. There is a shame that one feels when it comes to their own body. I feel shame all of the time because I injure myself constantly. My hair pulling is obsessive and compulsive, so no, lazy advice giver, I cannot just stop when I wish to. I feel shame because I have a lot less hair. I am talking a lot. I am talking like I have to wear it in certain ways to avoid looking odd. I am talking, wash hair everyday so I don't pull more when it's more oily and textured. I am saying that my part is wider in three different parts. My boyfriend complains of feeling spiky hairs growing back when I rest my head on him. I have to use endless amount of hairspray, clear mascara and sprays to keep my hair from standing straight up as it grows in patches. My hair doesn't sit comfortably in a pony tail because it is all sorts of odd right now. Odd as in thin, so its just doesn't have the bulk it once had.
Shame, real shame. I've done it to myself. But the sick pleasure in playing with my hair, which is something I have always done and enjoyed, took a turn when my hair textured changed, more grays appeared and my stress level was hiding beneath odd behaviors. I bite my nails, I count rhythms, I cut my cuticles until they bleed, I pluck my eyebrows incessantly, I rip fabric from my sweaters, I pick at my face, I pull mascara off of my eyelashes. All of these things make me feel amazing while I am doing them. I feel like the obsession with perfection, cleanliness and general texture and touch are a part of it, mixed with a general affliction of anxiousness and a search for a balance in mood and comfort.
Writing about it makes them more real I guess. I had always considered them quirks. But nails and such can be mended, hair however takes a lot longer to grow and can really depress someone. I have always loved my hair and love to do manipulate it. Braiding, curling, straightening, you name it. It's fun to do, but when you have half the amount you used to have it becomes a looming sadness that I am not what I once was. Oddly, I don't care what other people think about it, because luckily it's not necessarily visible. Most people give me odd looks if I'm pulling or crazy braiding/twirling in public, but usually it's an at home thing...sort of.
my bald spot at home, braiding and unbraiding to keep hair up...
but then i pick out pieces because it feels fun
to pull strands out of a braid or a pony tail...
and then I have to redo the braid or ponytail...
me all the time while watching TV...
I need to learn to knit...
I just started out loving to braid, comb with my fingers and play all day long and especially with newly styled soft hair. It was something I always did as a child and more and more as it got longer in high school. I want to stop. The release of pulling out a "bad-hair" is just so relieving though. I feel like I won something, I got the bad guy, but then I want to keep going to feel success more and more. But then I already hate myself and I am sad, but then I am happy because I like it. Most times I am not thinking this deeply about it, but I am writing out my feelings about it so I can acknowledge them and learn to let go.
I take an anti depressant and ADHD medication everyday and I feel much more neutral. My life has direction and a path instead of constant ups and downs and anger and sadness and happiness. My relationships and work have improved so I know it's a good thing. I wonder if the new focus can attribute to the pulling or of I am just more aware of it now especially because I know it's not just a quirk, it's something I want to stop. But how to do it? How do you re train your brain to not seek the comfort it uses? How can my hair become beautiful again? How can I love myself as I am and not pull out misguided imperfections?
I know that many many people suffer from this and it goes unnoticed and undiagnosed. People think it's a habit or a tick and that you can just quit. But for many it's chronic and come and goes in waves alongside life struggles and hard times or sometimes when you are just bored.
Watching TV and driving long distances are my biggest enemy. You have hands with not much to do and time. I am working on those times the most by just stopping the behavior once I realize I am doing it. Usually a few minutes later, I don't ever realize I am doing it again. It truly is an OCD addiction and I am so shameful and so afraid that I will go too far and that I will need to get a pixie cut or wear a wig. I do not have the chin for a pixie cut and I love my hair. Not having it makes me obsessively sad. As I am going down this road, I might as well write about my struggle, so others know they are not alone.
Please feel free to email me at email@example.com if you would like to share your stories or maybe chat about it. Thank goodness for social media to help connect us all. I think I would like to talk to other people about what they feel about it also. No one I know has the same issue, but many know someone who has it but no one seems to talk about it.
Anxiety, depression, OCD, trich...sometimes I feel like an unlovable disaster...but I am not. I have imperfections and I am working on acceptance of them in myself and others. While I have actual behavioral things to work on I know that I am someone with a large heart, full of compassion. I love unconditionally and truly want what is just and fair for everyone. I have faith that I can be better and have beautiful hair again. I want to get rid of this shame. Shame is not worth the pull.
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