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Life's little weirdnesses

Tearing your hair out? There might be a reason for that...

It's strange when you realise you used to have a disease but never realised.

Well, not a disease exactly - more of a 'complaint'. It's called trichotillomania, and it means pulling your hair out. 

I used to do this all the time when I was about 11-13 and I have a permanently high forehead because of it. Lucky not to end up bald.  Apparently a lot of women do.

From what I was reading in the Guardian article on the subject this morning, the tearing out of the hair has an element of ritual - one woman described rolling the hair between her fingers in satisfaction. Personally I used to eat mine. And as for others, my eyelashes were a prime target. Again luckily for me, mine grew back again.

Like a parrot pulling its feathers out, isn't it? And obviously a bad sign - it's interesting that nobody noticed. I got told off for it being 'dirty' but nobody ever wondered quite why I might be doing this. But then nobody ever wondered why I decapitated my dolls and drew blood on them, and hanged my teddies off the washing line when I was little. Or why my brother spent all his time designing fireworks. Or why I constantly mixed up jars of congo red and stood them round the room like blood. All seemed quite normal at the time...Today I'd probably be sectioned.

Apart from the fact that the social services in the 1970s were just as crap and overworked as they are now, it takes quite a lot to put two and two together. For instance, even as an adult I'd never connected my teenage anorexia with my mother's habit of smacking me once across the mouth while I ate. It took my friend Malc to say: "Good way to give someone an eating disorder..." before the penny dropped. Doh.

Oh la. Well, at least I don't eat my own hair any more. And at least there's help for people who do.

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