Parenting is not easy. It’s as though, when they hand you your tiny bundle for the first time, you are consumed with this everlasting feeling of inadequacy, this permanent guilt. The moment anything even remotely bad happens, if they trip, or end up with the flu, you look to yourself for answers, for someone to blame. What did I do wrong? How could I have prevented this from happening to my baby?
The truth is, we can’t prevent everything bad from happening. It’s unfortunate, but a fact, and that’s part of the reason why I suffer with anxiety the way I do.
Since becoming a Mum, my anxiety has gotten much worse. Becoming solely responsible for another life is a huge thing and if it doesn’t scare the shit out of you, you’re a better person than I!
One thing I’ve never spoken about publicly, or really said out loud at all, is that I suffer from a form of impulse control disorder (similar to OCD) called trichotillomania. Which basically means that I pull my hair out. There, I’ve said it.
Of course, like anything, it’s different for everyone (or so I read online)… but I tend to pull individual strands, and usually search through my hair for particularly coarse or out of place ones. It’s linked to, and triggered by my anxiety, which means if I’m having a bad day, I’ll normally find I pull my hair out much more. At the end of particularly stressful days, I’ll often find my hand wanders to my head, and a lot of the time, no matter how conscious I am of it, it’s difficult to stop.
You’ve probably got a million questions, so here’s a bit of an FAQ for you…
“Why do you do it?” – that’s a good one, I don’t really know. I’m still yet to start my cognitive behavioural therapy, and I’m sure we’ll delve into why I do it then. All I know at the moment is that it provides a sense of relief, one that I can’t explain, but can only assume it’s the same sort of thing as self harm.
“You don’t look like you pull out your hair, why aren’t you bald?” – Hmm, well, can anyone really be defined by what you can see on the surface? As you can imagine, when a person doesn’t want anyone to know they are struggling, they go to every length to hide it. In the last 10 years, I’ve gotten pretty good at hiding it. When I was 17, my Mum actually took me to the Doctors because she thought I had alopecia. I was too ashamed to admit the truth to her, although I know she would have been so supportive, I just couldn’t bring myself to say the words. Although my ICD is subconscious to an extent, I am aware that pulling strands from a particular area too often can create bald spots, which is why I try to spread out my pulling, but then again it’s difficult because sometimes I don’t even know I’m doing it.
As scary as it sounds, I like to think I’m not crazy (honest!), and suffering from my anxiety disorder, and OCD/ICD, does not make me a bad Mother. You’ve probably heard the phrase “I’m pulling my hair out!”, which is normally uttered by those feeling a bit frazzled and stressed, well, that’s exactly where it comes from (don’t say you never learn anything from my blogs!). I’m forever hoovering, and I am always hearing “your bloody hair gets everywhere” from loved ones. It’s hard, mostly because I don’t feel as though I can be honest about it. I feel ashamed.
The reason I have written this post, is because I’ve never had the courage to speak up before about my condition, and to be honest, it’s extremely tiring trying to hide it from the world.
According to the National Institute of Health, as many as 4% of the population may have trichotillomania. 4% might not sound like a lot, but when you think that there are approx 7.4 billion people in the world, it’s actually a huge number. My hope is that if even just one of those people reads this, they’ll seek help. None of us want to suffer for the rest of our lives, and I know I certainly don’t want to end up bald, which is why it’s so important to speak out, and so here I am, speaking out. I never knew trichotillomania existed until I spent a long afternoon Googling, and so I wanted to put out some kind of hope that others are not alone.
So if you’re struggling this New Year, take some time to assess how you really feel, and if the answer is “not good”, go and see you doctor. You don’t have to be pulling your hair out, you don’t even need to be self harming in any way, but if you feel as though the feeling of dread and impending doom just isn’t lifting, it’s probably time to get help.
It might just be the best decision you ever made.
I’m Jade, I’m 26 and a first-time, stay at home mum to my gorgeous one year old boy Finn! I’ve been writing, admittedly on and off, for years but since having the baby I’ve been full of inspiration, but at times lacking motivation! I suffer with an anxiety disorder and have to battle myself every single day. Currently trying to find new ways to keep the anxiety at bay and cherish every moment!