I started pulling when I was 13. I remember very vividly spending most of my math class preoccupied with pulling the hair out of my fingers. At that age, I was a disappointment. And I don’t mean I felt like one but was just young, I really was. I was a pathological liar and incredibly selfish, even for a preteen. My grades were crap and I was getting handed detentions for not turning in homework, getting more detention for skipping detention, and even suspended a couple of times. There were/are underlying reasons that explain the way I behaved back then and behave now but that’s not what I’m writing about.
The picking got worse, a lot worse, and it worsened so quickly that I didn’t even realize I was removing hair from all sorts of places suddenly. As you guys are probably familiar with, pulling in thicker skin areas leads to horrible ingrown hairs and scarring and all types of gross stuff.
And I don’t want some of you more severe trichsters to think I only stuck to a small area; I pulled from my fingers, my hands, my forearms on both sides, my eyebrows, my eyelashes, my inner thighs, and even my pubes. But even as my skin started looking funny and people started to notice my arms looking odd, I didn’t realize it was a habit of any kind. Nor did I care. I picked in class, on buses, at dinner, during lunch—any damn time, that’s how involuntary it was. It wasn’t until I started getting up in the middle of the night to lock myself in the bathroom and pick for hours on end (and to the point that my back, ribs, and neck would all ache from crouching, even during the day) that I realized there was something wrong.
Once I figured out exactly what it was, and even that it had a name, I was determined to stop. But… well, that’s a lie isn’t it? Knowing what it is doesn’t make you want to stop, does it? Because the truth is it feels great, that release of tension or worry or ache when a follicle finally separates from the skin. But the tension comes back even worse immediately afterwards and you get carried away. That’s what makes you want to stop. I used to think about stopping obsessively and eventually end up pulling to distract myself from the thoughts that were causing a lot of stress. It was an ugly, irritating cycle.
But then, I still can’t pinpoint when, which I guess is the point, I stopped. Just like any form of self-mutilation, it becomes so easy to do after you’ve done it for so long that it just barely hurts. But the other day, out of pure boredom, I tried pulling a hair out of my forearm and it hurt. A lot. Which surprised the hell out of me! I used to pick there all the time! And then I realized it was done.
Right, well, let me level with you all. I still pull from my hands and fingers. My fingers stopped growing hair ages ago and my hands barely grow anything anymore so, while it does feel a little good, I mostly do it to keep things aesthetically equal. My point is, though, it doesn’t have to be forever. Picking or pulling, they can disappear on their own. I’m not necessarily much more evolved now then I had been these past few years so I have no idea what exactly stopped it. I’ve still got stress and my anxiety is worse than it’s ever been, but I no longer pull.
Focus on your own personal growth and self-acceptance. That’s when it ends.
Feel free to ask me anything.
Or if you think I’m full of it, feel especially free to call me out. But you can stop!
And that’s the truth.