Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Top things you shouldn't say to someone with Trichotillomania!

I'm part of a couple of Trichotillomania Facebook groups and I know some can commiserate with me on this.  I will say this post probably comes off as a bit of a rant, but you have to understand I've heard all of this over and over again for the last 20 years.

You wouldn't say something like "Gosh, I just feel SO sick" to someone in the hospital, right? Well there are other situations that require the same thinking.  Sometimes it would do us all some good to be more mindful of our audience.    Here's my top things you shouldn't say to someone with trichotillomania.  These are just my experiences, but food for thought.

BFRB Ribbon
Body Focused Repetitive Behavior Ribbon

 You would be so 'pretty/handsome/insert compliment here' if you had hair (or eyebrows, eyelashes, etc).  

Really? You just took what could have been a compliment and turned it into a big slap in the face.  My beauty does not revolve around my hair, eyelashes, eyebrows, weight, and so on.  Is my hair perfect? No.  It's not.  It's not the way I want it.  But I wouldn't point out the zit on your face, so don't point out my lack of hair.  

Why don't you just stop? 

Well, why hadn't I thought of that?  While I do agree that there is some control regarding trichotollomania (again, just a personal belief), it's an impulse.  If it was as easy as 'just stopping', up to 4 percent of the population wouldn't suffer with this. I didn't choose this.  It's a constant battle, and being open about it is hard.  So if someone opens up to you about their struggle with trichotillomania, please try to educate yourself and understand that it's not that easy.  

I'm so mad I could just pull out my hair!
Again, test the temperature of the room.  I know some trichsters don't take offense to this, but I do.  It makes me uncomfortable to even hear someone else say it.  I don't have to be mad, sad, or overwhelmed to do pull my hair out.  It's a real problem I face each day, please don't discount it or my feelings, even in a casual remark. 

I bet you save a lot of money on haircuts and hair products!
No, I don't actually.  I still get my hair cut, even though there isn't much there.  I spend a lot of money on special products to help my hair grow or to help disguise my trichotillomania.  It's insensitive to imply that this disorder would be a blessing to my wallet.  

Why don't you cover it up? 
Why should I have to? Do you cover up every quirk of your personality or self? Would you cover it up if you had an illness? Maybe, maybe not, but that's a personal choice and I choose not to. 

That's so weird!
Please, don't call me or any other person struggling with a disorder like trichotillomania weird.  Many of is already feel enough shame surrounding it.  These words can be so damaging.  It's no weirder than someone that has depression, OCD, anxiety, or any other struggle with their own brain! It just is what it is,  and saying things like this does not help.  

Aren't you worried your son/daughter will do this too if you don't stop? 
Sure I am. Pointing it out doesn't help.  I do the best that I can.  Living my life worrying that Dawson might follow in my footsteps doesn't mean he won't.  I choose not to worry about it (too much) and to continue to set an example for him-  Educate people.  Accept others the way they are.  Keep any judgements to yourself. Hopefully this will show him how to be a more compassionate human being.  He might still pull, or he might pick.  I'll still love and accept him the way he is, as should anyone else. 

I'm sure I can add more to this list as time goes on.  Unfortunately this disorder is not well known and people struggle to understand it.  Heck, even I struggle to understand it sometimes!  I know many of these things are said because you just don't know. Take this as a gentle reminder to be mindful when you are speaking to or in front of someone who struggles with something such as trichotillomania, or any other disorder! 


  1. Oh gosh! You send a strong but invaluable message with this post of yours. I've seen trichotillomania, or any other behavioral maladies, stigmatized by people who are ignorant of what the people who have these conditions are experiencing and suffering from. Your list here may be harsh in other's eyes, but I think it's the bare-bones truth. I hope that more people would be educated about trich and other BFRB conditions, so that they may avoid the statements in the list, as well as for better understanding. Thank you so much for posting this very captivating post.

    Amanda Mazzocchi@ Good Look Ink

    1. I wrote a big long response and then google ate it! Gah!

      Thank you for your encouraging words. If posts like these can enlighten even just one more person out there, I'll be happy! I so wish I had the confidence I do now when I was younger to educate people. Thank you for stopping by and dropping a comment!