Hair pulling disorder or Trichotillomania is an obsessive compulsive disorder characterized by the compulsive urge to pull out one’s own hair. Sufferers of the disorder may pull out the hair on their head, or from other places on their bodies. The compulsion to pull is severe and sufferers experience feelings of anxiety and tension until they do pull, claiming to feel a release or sense of relief after pulling. The constant pulling is habitual and can result in bald spots, most commonly on the scalp. Individuals are understandably self-conscious, because of the shame and stigma associated with the disorder. Sufferers agree that explaining the disorder is embarrassing and complicated, they report a lack of information the topic and support for their struggle.
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Personal Stories About Trich to Support Others
Winnipeg native, Tenesha Lawson, a hair puller herself was tired of the lack of awareness about trichotillomania and decided to do something about it. She launched her website Dear Trich to help explain her disorder to others. She uses her site as a forum to providing reliable information about Trich and related disorders and keeps the lines of communication open for individuals with the disorder to contribute to the conversation as well as non-sufferers with questions about the disorder. Lawson has battled with the disorder since she was 11 years old. Yet was only diagnosed 4 years ago, highlighting how little is known about the disorder. Lawson’s website serves as an online platform for patients to share their own stories and find the support from others with the same experiences. She turned to the internet to find others like her and was surprised by how many there were and how helpful it was for her to read their stories. Individuals with the disorder as well as family and friends of sufferers can all grow and learn from each other through sharing their experiences and asking questions. Tenesha makes it clear that Dear Trich is not a place for expert information, but rather a place for people to share their stories and start converstaions.
"An online hub where people can exchange personal stories about Trichotillomania and other BFRBs"
Raising Awareness and Providing Support
Sites like Dear Trich are very important in terms of raising awareness and providing support and encouragement to sufferers of the disorder. Online resources such as this one provide easily accessible evidence based information regarding the disorder. Sufferers of the disorder are able to gain insight and share their support with others with trichotillomania especially since there is little knowledge or information regarding the disorder. Here, health care and social media can work hand in hand. By sharing their stories and hearing the stories of others the stigma can hopefully end.