Trich in the media: Natalie Blythe
Thanks to the efforts of research and advocacy groups such as the Trichotillomania Learning Centre have made huge strides in growing awareness of body-focussed repetitive behaviours (BFRBs) and encourages those suffering in silence to come forward and seek help and support. More and more we are seeing stories of individuals suffering with trichotillomania featured in mainstream media.
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Recent Media Coverage
The Irish Examiner recently published the story of Natalie Blythe, a 32-year-old heir puller since the age of 14. For Natalie, hair pulling developed in response to the anxiety of school. But like the approximately 110 million people globally who suffer from this condition, Natalie felt immense shame and guilt about her behaviour.
I used to be really ashamed of what I did and was too scared to tell anyone
This shame and guilt is what prevents people from seeking help. Many trich sufferers report feeling afraid that their concerns would be harshly judged, or shrugged off as just a bad habit it they expressed their concerns to a health professional. Awareness raising campaigns and features in the media brings a level of acceptance and empathy to the condition that overcomes this barrier to seeking help and support.
While there is still much research and advances that need to be made with regards to the treatment of trichotillomania and other BFRBs, there are treatment options available. It is only by talking about your trichotillomania experience that you will find the various options available to you. What works for one individual may not work for the next, but it is through sharing experiences with various treatment options that you will find the combination treatments and support that suits your individual needs.
Hair Loss Solutions
For Natalie it was her search for a solution to the hair loss that resulted from her hair pulling that led her to the Lucinda Ellery Studio, and it was here that she learned that she was not alone in her suffering and that her behaviour had a name. At her consultation at the studio, Natalie admitted for the first time that she had been pulling out her own hair. For 10 years Natalie has been able to get her life back due to the mesh system provided by the studio, which enabled her to go out in public without shame and engage in meaningful occupations without feeling self-conscious about her hair. For some the mesh system also offers a barrier to the pulling behavior, which over time can result in the urge to pull diminishing as it may force the individual to find alternate methods of responding to the stimulus that causes the urge to pull. In cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) this is referred to as competing response and stimulus control, and is used in a treatment method known as habit reversal training (HRT). Lucinda Ellery herself is an advocate for a collaborative approach to treatment, encouraging her clients with trichotillomania to also consider CBT in conjunction with the use of her products.