3rd Trichstop Essay Scholarship Winner

Our scholarship programme is still going strong. We are pleased to publish the 3rd winning essay authored by Brittany Nicole Kogut, who will be awarded a scholarship to the value of $500 towards her studies. Applicants are required to submit a 400 word essay explaining the impact trichotillomania has their study efforts. Brittany has requested to be named as she would like to contribute to creating awareness. We salute your courage Britanny and thank you for your beautifully written essay.

BY BRITTANY NICOLE KOGUT:

Trichotillomania: what a loaded, unspoken, life-changing secret many of us share?  Though trichotillomania is not a secret at all.  People notice.  People look twice at the spots on your head, the wigs, hairpieces, extensions, bandanas and hats.  Why are they always wearing a hat?  Why do you have spots on your head?  Do you have cancer?  Do you have alopecia?  Oh, you pull it out yourself!

            At that very moment, understanding and compassion fly out the window.  People cannot fathom this anxiety-driven response and therefore place blame on the individual suffering from this brutal world that is trichotillomania.  I hid my trich for thirteen years, all the while I was a competitive gymnast, competitive cheerleader, collegiate cheerleader, and sports reporter.  I went through high school and college everyday in constant fear that I had not hid my disorder well enough.  Would somebody notice?  Would somebody start rumors?  Would somebody find out my secret?  It made my anxiety sky-rocket and I felt that I had to hide myself every minute of every day.  If the wind blew or someone reached for my head as a normal gesture, my heart stopped.  When I would study, that would be prime-time for hair pulling.  I wanted to succeed and be great, but all the while I was hiding myself from the world.  There was no chance of survival or success, for me, living that way. 

            I had one option, one hope left.  I had done research about other trich sufferers shaving their heads and it really helped in recovery.  One day in July 2012, I pulled all the courage I had, I walked into a hair salon and had a stylist shave my head down to a buzz cut full of bald holes.  Then she took a razor and shaving cream, she touched my head.  My head that I had been so ashamed of, that I had hidden from the world, that I couldn’t face, and she shaved my scalp bald.  It was riveting, painful, mind-blowing, freeing, terrifying, and wonderful all at the same time.  What had I just done?  Would I regret this?

            That answer is and will always be NO.  I will never regret that brave decision I made and saw through to fruition.  I actually stood tall with confidence and faced the world head on.  Was it always easy, fun, or uplifting?  Absolutely not, but I was not hiding anymore.  I was free.  I felt the pain, judgment and rejection of my actions as well.  I was told I couldn’t come back to a job that I had for eight years unless I wore a wig.  I was told by my best friend that I would ruin her wedding as her maid-of-honor if I didn’t wear a wig.  I had a close friend’s mother tell me that I was disgusting and disturbing, that if I were her daughter she would freak out on me.  I also had complete strangers come up to me and tell me I was beautiful with full sincerity.  I saw pure kindness in the eyes of people walking by me, some was out of concern for my health, but all was genuine and honest.  Genuine and honest is what I had become not only to the world, but to myself.  After so many years of guilt, shame, and hiding, I was exposed.  I am a stronger woman because of it and wouldn’t trade my experience for the world. 

            I continue to shave my head to this day, as I just turned 31 years old a few days ago.  I have tried to grow it back and have been successful for short periods of time and then I pull again.  What that continues to teach me is to not be ashamed of who I am.  We all have our battles, mine just happens to be out for the world to see.  What that also gives me is the opportunity to share about trichotillomania and to spread awareness for this disorder.  People will never understand or show compassion unless they are given the information about trich.  I pledged that day in July that anytime someone would ask me about my hair, that I would tell them the truth.  If they wanted to have a further conversation, then that was my mission, that is why I have this disorder.  I am a voice for others who feel too much fear, shame, and guilt.  I stand up for others who are beaten down by a misunderstood disorder and an often cruel world. 

            My goal in starting school again at Red Rock Community College is to get my massage therapy certification and a holistic health certification.  I am currently a yoga teacher, so I want to combine all of those extremely nurturing and calming practices into my own business.  I want to be a sanctuary for every person that walks in my doors.  I want everyone to feel welcome and that will happen because of my history with trichotillomania, anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.  My goal is to have a place where people can come to heal, decrease anxiety and shame, be exactly who they are, and develop a new, loving relationship with their body.  We can all learn to love and appreciate what we have and what we have been through.  It makes us the strong, compassionate people we are today.  I want fellow trich sufferers to leave my business with their heads held high with confidence in who they are and the gift that trich can bring to our soul. 

            Due to my struggles with trichotillomania, anxiety, depression, and eating disorders, and the judgment I have received, it has been hard to have steady work.  There has been a battle between being accepted at a workplace and having my anxiety under control to be able to work.  That is why I am asking for assistance in completing this dream of mine.  I do struggle financially, but this is the only true path I see.  A path out of the darkness and bringing others with me through health, nutrition, love, compassion, understanding, and growth.  Thank you for taking the time to read my words.  It is much appreciated and I hope to change life with my practice.  I know I will change lives with my practice.