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_E_W_ , 24 Aug 2019

Eyelash pulling, past experiences, what can we do?

Hello, this is my first time here, and I am so glad I am able to talk to others anonymously about trich. I am a sixteen year old girl, just starting junior year, and I’ve never been more ready for change. I’m hoping I can be able to connect with others going through similar situations, as it’s hard to talk to friends about it, or even family members.

I have had this disorder ever since I was in third grade. The faintest, first memories I had were even before that, when I would feel how long my lashes were with a stroke of one finger. Everyone used to praise me on how long and beautiful my eyelashes were, and I never thought anything of it.

However, I might always remember the day I first pulled. It started with the same situation as in the past, I was noticing how long each lash was, and the texture, and how there were just so many of them. So many. I can’t remember but why I pulled out that first eyelash when I was looking in the mirror, to get a better feel of the texture, to see how long it really was, or just to see one. Just one. I can’t remember if it hurt, or if it was hard to pull. But I will never forgive myself for that pull. Because for the rest of the day, I was standing in front of the mirror, wanting to pull more and more for a reason I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to identify.

I don’t even think I was aware of the damage I was doing. I remember before going to bed on one of the first days I started pulling, I probably pulled out each lash from one bottom row. And I had no idea or no awareness to it, or what it looked like even. I just did it.

It came to the point where my mom took notice. When she saw, she gasped in horror and just said “Why?”. I immediately began crying, as I think at that moment, I just noticed what I was doing to myself. But when I went to hug her, she just pushed me away, still in horror.

For the first two years, she would always be monitoring my eyes. She found numerous ways to help me stop, such as bandaids, a Velcro patch under my desk, even a ball like toy with its own little “spikes” to distract myself in school. But whenever I failed to compete a day without pulling, I was punished. I was yelled at for why I did it, but I would always answer “I don’t know.”. Unfortunately, that was never an acceptable answer for my mom. But at the time, I never knew why I did it. It just happened.

Seven years have passed, and I have been on relapse for about three years. When I stopped for those two years, I’ve never felt prouder. I don’t know what happened, I think I just told myself I needed to stop, and eventually forgot I had the disorder. I remember looking in the mirror one day, and just noticing that I reached a grand victory. Little did so know that it wouldn’t last long, just a but ignore more than a year before I started pulling all over again, at its absolute worst.

Okay, phew. Still here? I apologize for all of the rambling about my past. I’m curious to know if anyone had a similar past like that, especially with how your parents reacted. Luckily, my mom understands the genetics of trich and that I can’t just stop whenever, even though any of us would give anything to drop this habit.

It has come to the point where I’ve never been more insecure about my eyes. With sophomore year being the most stressful year academically, my habits have been accelerated to the point of barely having any lashes. I do not pull in public like I used to when I was younger. However, when I pull, it’s always eyelashes that are newly growing in. I find that I pull them because there’s a distinct texture to them that triggers the urge. I actually have just discovered this trigger, along good with the habit of bringing my fingers up to my eyes to feel my lashes.

Everyday since freshman year, I have worn eyeliner to school in hopes it would almost cover up the bareness of my eyes. And everyday, I have hated wearing it. I feel like I give an ‘emo’ vibe, which is stigmatized at my school, just for having a personality. Whenever eyes are being talked about in whatever way, I can’t help but feel awkward and unprepared for what they could say to me. I have a hard time keeping eye contact with people, and I can’t be too close to people where they can see full eye details. Although my eyeliner has given me a wall of false security, I cringe at the thought of having to wear it for my marching band competitions when I’m in full uniform, going swimming with my friends, or honestly, any event where I have to go to the bathroom every three hours to check in the mirror if there’s any smudges.

I’ve had people comment on my smudges near my eyes. One of my closer friends would offer to help me get it off, but I can’t help but try to get away because I can’t be have them say something out loud about my eyelashes, with the chance of so many people hearing and explanation expected.

Today, whenever I am asked, I lie and say that I have an immune deficiency condition where my hair will periodically grow out weak and fall off. My trick for this is just to say all of these fancy medical words to make it sound legit. But at the end of the day, I know that none of it is true.

I never know if my eyeliner works and actually tricks people into thinking my eyes are just fine. But it’s not tricking me anymore. I am done with feeling so insecure about my habits, when I look at a photo of myself with friends or if I see myself in the mirror after a long day outside of being unsure if my eyeliner is still on or not. Referring to my past with trich, I’m sick of the fact that others are being viewed as ‘on the spectrum’ or ‘insane’ for a disorder that’s just as hard to break as alcoholism.

I have been doing a lot of research on this disorder, along with other similar disorders. I can understand why my mom was so strict about it when I was younger, because many mothers have viewed these habits as an act of self harm. I can’t speak for everyone who pulls out their eyelashes, as we are all coming from different backgrounds. But for me, I never pulled to hurt myself. I never pulled upon scenarios of anxiety or panic. Even though I cannot 100% speak for myself, as I’ve never been to a psychiatrist to clarify all of this for me, I have grown the habit to pull lashes of a really course texture. And as much as I want to stop this, it’s hard.

But it’s possible. I have stopped this disorder once, and I believe I have the capability to stop it again.

But I need help. What has been successful for you, or have you had any similar stories? And what can we do to stop not only this disorder, but also the stigma, along with the insecurities we have against ourselves?

...still here? If so, I just want to thank you for even just reading this. For me, talking about trich is awkward and uncommon, as this isn’t a well known disorder that is discussed in health class (but i’m sure some students might be glad that they’re disorder isn’t as publicized). I am just so happy to find this community and I hope I can be able to help others from my personal experiences as well.

I will be sure to read the feedback. Thank you all so much.

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