22M, thought I'd share my story

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22M, thought I'd share my story
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I'm 22 years old, in college, and play in a rock band. I have long, curly, dark blonde hair to about chest length, which I started growing out when I was about 14. Many times I have received compliments on it. However, since I was about 18 I have had a strong tendency to pull on, or otherwise mess with my hair on one side, which in recent months has been causing me much stress and worry.

Ironically, my hair-pulling problem appears to stem from a very strong fear of male pattern baldness. This is a fear I have had from about the age of 15 or 16 onwards. My maternal grandfather lost his hair at quite an early age, and I have long worried that I would suffer the same fate. I know that I would look absolutely hideous if I became bald, and I have sworn many times that if that happened I would quit my band and stop playing music forever. There's no way I could step onto a rock n roll stage looking like Devin Townsend, that would just be ridiculous.

As a result of these fears, I used to obsessively check my hairline in the mirror, trying to see if there was any loss present. One day when I was 18 and doing this, I noticed a couple hairs looked out of place on the right side of the hairline, so I pulled them out. These hairs made that whole right side itch when they tried to grow back, and from then on that part of my hair never looked quite right to me. I began from then on to suspect that it was receding on that side. This in turn made me mess with that side obsessively. I would constantly run it through my fingers, which made it look even frizzier and tangled. Last year, it progressed to pulling the hairs out often. I guess it started as a way to "test" the hairs to see if I was indeed going bald in that one area. This place I pulled was only on the right, a couple of inches behind the right corner of the hairline. I would look at all of the ones I pulled out and try to determine if they were either thinner than normal, or easier to pull out. Eventually it got to the point where I would be sitting at my computer, mindlessly pulling out hairs in that same spot, all the while (ironically enough) worried sick that I was to have the same fate as my grandfather. Also during this time I would often tie my hair back into a sort of Thomas Jefferson/Founding Fathers style braid, sometimes wearing it like this for days on end. This likely put further strain on it.
Last November I looked at that side and noticed that it was indeed a bit sparser there. I then proceeded to freak out, thinking once again that I was going bald. However I then remembered all the times I had pulled on that side, or run my fingers through it, and how I would often tie my hair back. For the next four months I hid my hair under a hat or a headband, trying to stop myself from messing with it. Only in the past couple of weeks have I begun to wear it without a hat again.

The problem I have, despite my aforementioned fears, could well be self-inflicted. The left side, which I have never pulled on, is fine. I don't appear to have a receding hairline either. On the right, I can feel many smaller hairs in the area I used to pull on. They push up on the longer ones and make them go in different directions, so it still looks pretty bad on that side. I have been going a therapist as well, to try and sort this out. I told him how I thought I was losing my hair, and he said, "That's not really how baldness starts". However, part of me still believes that I'm going bald. I think to myself sometimes that me attributing this problem to trich is just a form of denial. When my friends tell me that I am not losing my hair, I never believe them. I've been told as well that I should see a dermatologist about it, but I'm still too scared to do so. For now all I can do is wait and see how much hair grows back and try not to pull any more out, no matter how difficult that is to resist.

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