Living with OCD and Trichotillomania (Hair Pulling)

I am an OCD sufferer. I was diagnosed many years ago when I was 17 and since then, I’ve been on and off medication. The OCD itself is a living, walking nightmare. It is less of a ‘condition’ and more of an invisible yet loud set of voices dictating my every action everyday. Even when I sleep, I’m shouting and fighting off people in my dreams.

One of the worst things that comes with the OCD is the obsessive hair pulling. The correct word for it is Trichotillomania. A technical, scientific word that sounds nothing like the condition itself. But it happens like this. Everyday, you pick at the same area almost every minute. It’s like picking your nails, only worse. You can’t stop your hand from reaching up and just tugging at the hair, even though you can feel it rooted in your scalp, and as it tries to cling onto it, you still pick despite the pain. I’m afraid to get my hair cut because I’ve begun to see the part where it is receding ever so slightly at the front of my forehead. Now even when I try to ‘correct’ my hair into place, I can’t stop. I play with it over and over again, unknowingly. When it is clean, the pulling brings some comfort, it almost feels nice. But when my hair is dirty, I feel sick and ill, yet I can’t stop.

The few strands that I pick eventually get knotted up, become wire like and weak so that when I brush them out, the hair simply falls out. It’s relief mixed with destruction, that feeling of pushing your hair back and feeling and your hand getting stuck in those tangled up hairs like a car hitting a bad part of the road. I’m getting an anxiety attack writing and thinking about. So I get up and go wash my face. I pat down my hair over my forehead with water and I think that it looks ok, that no one will really notice it besides me and I can get away with it. But then I sit down and soon I’m picking it again while browsing my phone, or talking to someone or watching TV.

Sometimes I feel blessed that I have come a long way. Sometimes it feels like there is still a long way to go and the battle is never-ending. That I will have to live with this my whole life and it will get in the way of everything I do. I will say that I understand it better than I did before, even though that is still not enough sometimes. But along with the medication, and support, and talking, I’m able to have better days. But there are still days where the mind is my master and I’m its slave. It is not a cliché. It is the truth. Too often clichés that are truths are dismissed and so people’s stories are silenced. Too often people dismiss it as ‘I have a bit of OCD too’ and I sit there in silence, because I give up telling them otherwise. There is not enough awareness about what real OCD is, what it can do to a person, because for so long people have wrongly used the term to describe ‘neat freaks’ and people who just love ‘organisation’. If you have OCD, you have to repeatedly go over and clarify sentences, until you are sure that the other person has heard you, has understood you correctly, and has not taken offence. You can’t move on. You can’t get over it and not care because there is a voice in your mind that will dictate you and tell you that you are a horrible person and something bad is going to happen if you don’t correct what you said. When you have OCD, even thinking the wrong thoughts can result in the fear of someone getting hurt. The thoughts that are dark and twisted, which others can dismiss as ‘passing thoughts’ can cling onto you. Your brain will convince you that it is all you, thinking those thoughts. It will put the thoughts there to trap you.

I have every OCD in the book, and it is crushing. Sometimes I have hallucinations with it. And I am compelled to do things like speak out loudly and repeat myself over and over again. I still do it mostly in my worst moments or when something important has to be said to stop my brain harassing me or giving me intrusive thoughts. But it’s still much better than before. Nowadays, I can use the Internet and social media without stopping and having to scrolling up and down in certain ways. Before it was to the point where I would be sitting for ages doing just that, and in my mind I had to imagine something good in order to defeat the bad. It still fills me with anxiety and stress just talking about it… I don’t know what to say because words ironically are not enough, except sometimes I think I just need a cure in the form of a refresh button. A delete button in my mind so I can start a fresh page again.

 

Edited by @Durre_Shahwar on behalf of someone who wishes to remain Anonymous.