The Cause of Trichotillomania In My Life
WebMD says the exact cause of Trichotillomania isn’t known but I know what caused it and what continues to trigger in my life.
Maybe by telling you the cause of TTM in my life will help you discover the root cause of yours?
I’ve spent the last year of my life really digging deep into my hair pulling disorder and I’ve come out on the other end so much more educated about myself and this condition.
I’ve joined several Facebook communities as well as started one of my own.
I’ve read several journals, articles, books and studies reported on TTM and it’s really helped me to understand myself and this disorder a lot better.
I’m not a doctor.
I’m a girl with Trichotillomania for 30+ years who has been able to pin point the causes of hair pulling in her life and I’m going to share with you some insight as to how I figured it out.
I’m hoping that in writing this that you’ll be able to take a deeper look at your situation and determinate what’s the cause and how you can look into treatment strategies.
So What Caused My Hair Pulling Disorder?
I was a very young child with Trichotillomania.
I pulled my hair and sucked my thumb as long as I can remember, toddler age.
I developed a lot more BFRB’s later but the two most dominate ones from a young age were hair pulling and thumb sucking.
It all started after my dad abandoned me.
I never really had a secure home after that and I was living from place to place with my mom.
I was sexually abused by a family member from a very young age and I didn’t know how to process that.
It was family after all, that’s a pretty damn confusing and traumatizing thing to go through as 4 year old.
I had no one to tell, nowhere to go and I felt like it was my fault in some way the longer things went on.
I believe the hair pulling was a coping mechanism for deeper things I wasn’t able to fully express.
Childhood abuse has many varied manifestations to cope and trichotillomania was one of mine.
What’s sad is they’re too little to even know it.
There are studies that report:
Subjects with a diagnosis of trichotillomania and skin picking reported statistically significantly higher numbers of traumatic and negative events in childhood compared to healthy subjects.
“These women with trichotillomania experienced a disproportionate number of traumatic or violent episodes in childhood. In most cases, the onset of TTM was correlated with specific episodes of violence. Of special interest is the possible relationship between family chaos experienced during childhood and the onset of TTM.”
Hair pulling has always been my coping mechanism and the cause of mine, the root cause started when I was a young girl who was abandoned and abused.
“Claire, a circus contortionist from Bristol, says the hair-pulling became out of control after her mum Stephanie took her own life.” (source)
I’m in large communities of people with trichotillomania on Facebook and if you just hang out for a couple months, you’ll start to see a pattern of hurt people.
Losing parents, family members, being sexually abused or beaten, some of them verbally abused all their lives – all these are very common topics being brought up.
I believe it’childhood trauma is the root cause for a lot of us with trichotillomania (not all, but definitely a large portion).
The impact of childhood trauma and abuse can lead to the hair pulling , anxiety, stress, insecurity, fear, guilt, self harm, eating disorders and condemnation.
Related Article: How Can I Help My Child with Trichotillomania?
I developed a lot of insecurities and fears as a result of sexual abuse and abandonment.
My emotional needs we’re not being met by anyone and I honestly can remember feeling “on my own” and alone from a very young age.
I had a doll, that was it, that was my best friend and confidant.
I was so insecure about every, single thing.
I hated my hair, my face, my body, – pretty much my whole existence.
Adolescence was so hard that I ended up getting into drugs, drinking and self mutilation.
I developed eating disorders because I always thought I was just too fat.
I was a perfectionist and a people-pleaser and everything I did was out of fear and insecurity.
I never wanted anyone to know the real me and as a result I never had any close friends.
I had friends, but because I didn’t know how to function normally in relationships, I always ended up pushing them away.
I battle stress and anxiety as a result of my childhood trauma and insecurities that I believe were never dealt with.
To this day, I am an OCD, perfectionist and that drives a lot of the stress and anxiety that I have.
I never grew up feeling secure and so I still have this fend for myself attitude that drives me to work, work, work.
Even though I know better, I still have a lot of inner work to do!
Inner work is a HUGE PART of this.
We can treat all the external circumstances with better diet, stress relievers and more sleep but at the end of the day, the inner work has to be done.
Becoming whole inside and out and believing right about my worth and value is a real struggle and I believe it’s a struggle for a lot of people with Trichotillomania.
A lot of us are dealing with things that are not external.
Stress and anxiety are the result of us not believing right.
Something we’re believing inside is causing us that stress, anxiety, guilt, fear and all sorts of negative emotions.
Until we believe right, we’ll never live right – we’ll never have freedom from these negative emotions.
It’s why I’m constantly doing the inner work.
It’s why I go to bible school and immerse myself in the love and grace of God.
The inner work is so important to overcoming Trichotillomania.
All the external stuff in the world isn’t going to help you if what’s causing your hair pulling is an internal issue!!
I’ve had trichotillomania for so long that it’s become a coping mechanism for a lot of emotions.
Do you ever eat when you feel bad?
You probably don’t choose kale right? Yea me either.
My diet is something that I have been looking a lot at these past few months since tracking it in my health journal.
I can see where my food has affected my mood and my hair pulling.
If I eat sugar my hair pulling urges are much worse.
It’s like I get put on hyper drive or something.
On days where I eat sugar my anxiety is higher and it also keeps me awake at night and lack of sleep is also a huge trigger for my hair pulling.
Sugar and I are not a good combination because my body doesn’t react well to it and yet for some reason, I want it all the time.
It’s not just sugar though, I also noticed when I eat gluten, I’m depressed and my mood changes severely which leads to all sorts of issues too.
I’ve been able to look at my diet and actually pin point the foods that make me feel worse (and sadly, they’re the foods that comfort me the most).
I can see that I handle my mood a lot better when I remove sugar and gluten from my diet completely – but it’s not always an easy thing to do.
There’s definitely something to looking at your diet, I know it really helped me.
My trichotillomania didn’t go away with a better diet but it is 90% better when I’m on the Keto diet (which elimiates sugar and gluten completely).
What you put in your body is what makes it function and I don’t think a lot of people really take that seriously but sufferers of trichotillomania really should.
Finding the Cause of Hair Pulling
First thing I had to do was get aware.
I was doing this totally unaware of it and then I would catch myself and condemn myself.
It was an auto pilot for me to start scanning my head for hairs, I still have a hard time keeping my hands down but I’m aware.
I bought Keen bracelets from HabitAware and they opened my eyes immediately to how much my hands were in my hair.
They brought awareness. I had to get aware and even though they were not cheap, I decided I was worth it and it was time for me to stop it, for good!
The next thing after awareness was finding out what was triggering me to do it and stop it!
I started a therapy journal to track my pulling patterns and daily moods and activities – from there I was able to see clearly in front of me the different patterns that caused more hair pulling.
I started humbling myself and being honest with myself about things in my life that needed to be changed.
My attitude about myself was #1.
I started to really do some inner work, focusing on who I was in Christ and my worth to God.
I have WORTH! AND VALUE! I MATTER!
SO DO YOU!!
It’s about believing right so we can receive our healing in our soul and body.
The therapy journal that I use is faith based, it’s full of truths about my value and worth in this life and it also helps me track my hair pulling patterns and daily activities.
Once I started recording all this stuff down in my journal, I could see the things that I could improve in my life.
My diet was crap! My sleep was crap!
When those two things suffered, my anxiety levels were through the roof.
Insecurity and depression we’re major factors and that all stems from a traumatizing childhood.
Once you know what is caused your Trichotillomania, you can work towards becoming whole inside and out.
- If it’s childhood trauma, you need a shower of God’s love!
- If it’s fear, insecurity, you need a shower of God’s love!
- If it’s stress and anxiety, you need a shower of God’s love!
- If it’s your diet, you need a shower of God’s grace to help you change it (because it’s not easy, I know).
It all starts with assessing the situation and discovering your worth and value.