A few years ago, you walked into the Children’s room at the public library. You walked up to the desk and set your books down, waiting for them to be checked in. You greeted the young librarian who was stationed at the desk that night. When she said hello, you looked into her eyes…and that was when you noticed something odd. She didn’t have any eyelashes. Or eyebrows. But she had hair on her head. So unless she was wearing a wig, she probably wasn’t losing her hair because of chemotherapy. Why then, were her lids lashless? Where were her eyebrows?
One day your sister sat down to dinner, and she kept her eyes downcast. In fact her whole face was shadowed by her short hair hanging loose around her shoulders. When she raised her head to ask for the salt to please be passed, you caught her eye, and almost blurted out a question, but you caught yourself. The query didn’t go away though…what had happened to her brow game, which was so strong? Where were her long eyelashes? Had they disappeared overnight?
Trichotillomania…do you know what it is? I didn’t. When I started pulling out my lashes I thought I was the only one in the whole world. A freak of nature. It wasn’t enough for me to be skeletally thin, I also had to pluck every last tiny hair from above my eyes and around my eyes. I knew it looked weird, but I couldn’t stop. When I became anxious, my hand would automatically dart to my eye area, in search of a lash to pull. This went on for quite some time, even after my mom approached me about it. It wasn’t until a social event I was invited to began to draw near that I was able to give myself a goal of quitting. Eventually, my lashes and eyebrows grew back. Just as thick and full as ever. I looked normal again, at least if you just looked at my face.
But trichotillomania is still there. I still find myself reaching for my face when I get nervous. It’s like second nature. I don’t know how to stop, so I tell myself just do it once, to comfort yourself or whatever. Then stop. And don’t do it again. It’s not that easy, but I’m getting better at it. I am thankful that I never took the hair pulling as far as I could have. I could have moved on to the hair on my head, going bald in patches. Hair loss is also a possible side affect of anorexia, so it’s not like the possibility of losing my head of hair wasn’t already there.
I am now able to wear eyeliner and mascara. I used to have drawers full of the stuff, and yet couldn’t wear any. There was no makeup out there to make this blemish go away. Usually my brows look ok, but they could use some work. I could use some work. I never want to go back to the point where I don’t have any lashes or eyebrows left, but that might not be enough to stop my picky hands. Day by day. All I can do is take it day by day.