The first step in your Journey – Belief that you can and will get better.

“Be at least as interested in what goes on inside you as what happens outside. If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place” – Eckhart

There are countless ways one can begin to treat trich, but the most critical piece of the puzzle is that you must sincerely believe that you can and will get better. There are many false beliefs that trichsters carry around with them that prevent them from even taking the first step to recovery. Some of these false beliefs go along the lines of, “There is no hope”, “I’ll never get better”, “I’ve been doing this so long, how will I ever stop”, “the urge is too strong, it’s just hopeless”, and so on. In reality, there is hope. There are countless people who have conquered trich, myself included, that have gone on to live their lives pull free, without the shame, without the guilt and without all the emotional baggage that comes with it. No longer having to live with trich is one of the greatest reliefs someone can experience, and you have the power within yourself to make that happen.

I know that those with trich are some of the smartest, craftiest, and most loving people in the world and one of the main things holding them back from conquering trich is the false belief that they are doomed to have it for the rest of their lives. These false beliefs lead to trichsters ignoring the problem, inaction, and a refusal to even look into treatment options. In truth, there are plenty of methods one can use to get better, from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), to sharing your experience with a support group and creating new friendships, to nourishing your mind with the supplements it needs to heal itself. There are plenty of options out there waiting for you.

Just remember, you are not alone, over 200 million people around the world suffer from trich. Everyone is in this battle together and they all have the power within themselves to change, they just have to unlock it. The way to unlocking the power of change is to accept that you are capable and worthy of it. There are countless others out there just like me, that have overcome trich and you can be one of them too. I promise you, as unlikely as it may seem to you right now, as bad as it may be, you can and will get better. There is a better life out there waiting for you, a life where you don’t have to hide, and one where you can be your true self, you just have to take the first step. Every new day is a chance to change your life.

The Primary Causes of Trichotillomania

Trichotillomania is a very complex hair pulling anxiety condition that consists of genetic, emotional, environmental, neurological and addictive factors. It is viewed as a coping mechanism that people have developed in order to bring some semblance of balance to their life. It shares great similarity with alcoholism, smoking/drug abuse, over-eating, and other detrimental and addictive escapes. Many of the reasons why trich persists are the same as smoking, over-eating – a genetic predisposition to addiction, emotional issues, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, stress, boredom and an overall lack of proper coping skills. Many of these have a negative feedback loops that perpetuates the the habit

Emotional –  Different emotional states trigger pulling: stress, boredom, anxiety, frustration, and tiredness. There might also be a combination of more deep seeded issues that may contribute to pulling. Things such as physical and emotional abuse, loss of a loved one, feelings of rejection, suppressed emotions, etc all linger in the subconsciousness. There is the potential for a negative loop to occur. Pulling leads to noticeable hair loss, which might lead to taunting and ridicule from peers, which in turn lowers an individuals self-esteem and causes stress which leads to more pulling.

Addiction – There are two addictive aspects to trich. The ritualistic aspect and the chemical dependence aspect. The ritualistic aspect is the searching for the perfect hair, the twirling of the hair, pulling out the hair, then rubbing the root against the lips. There is something remarkably soothing about the process. The chemical aspect plays a role here in that the small amount of pleasure derived from the pull becomes addictive. It could be likened to the same feeling a smoker has from the first drag of a cigarette in the morning. That pleasure a puller experiences grows into a chemical addiction much in the same way someone gets addicted to a drug. There is always that one extremely pleasurable pull that they had, and they are consistently going after that ‘high’.. its a craving. Now, imagine this positively reinforced action of pulling taking place hundreds of times a day and you can begin to see why it’s so difficult to stop. Even worse, the addiction doesn’t cost a penny and can be done virtually anywhere. The human brain is wired to crave instant gratification and with something as accessible as pulling a hair out to feel pleasure, it becomes the go to coping mechanism. The instant gratification that pulling provides is one of the major reasons why the illness perpetuates itself.

Genes – Your genes are the blueprint, the ‘biological code’, that programs everything about you. Some people are genetically pre-disposed to trich more so than others simply by the genes that were passed on to them by their parents. For trichsters, there is some code inside their genes that says: (IF under stress OR bored THEN pull hair to feel better). The urge to pull is hard coded into the genetic blueprint as one of posisbly several options to dealing with stress and other negative emotions. Once the behavior is learned it perpetuates itself through its addictive aspects and becomes the go to coping mechanism for the individual. Genetics play a relatively minor role in the reasons trich persists. It’s only contribution is that it is hardcoded as one of many ways for an individual to overcome negative feelings.

Isolation – The majority of pulling is done when alone. This is another one of the negative feedback loops that makes trich persist. The puller is in isolation when pulling, noticeable bald spots then causes shame, embarrassment and a reluctance to be seen in public, which leads to more isolation and pulling, and the cycle continues.

Neurological / Chemical – Pulling is used to regulate mood. Trichsters pull to relax when stressed out, pull to perk up when bored and pull to relax even more when going to sleep. Trichsters develop a craving for the the chemicals that are released in the brain every time they pull.

The key to overcoming trich is to interrupt the negative feedback loops that perpetuate trich. The two best methods available to accomplish this are currently Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and the use of supplements / medicines. Both methods should be used in order to gain the quickest and longest lasting changes. The next article will begin to look at CBT and how it can be used help reduce pulling.

Welcome to TTM Freedom Foundation

TTM Freedom Foundation is a site  dedicated to helping those with trichotillomania. TTMFF will will foster a community for trichsters to share their experience and get to know one another. Through new friendships and mutual support, TTMFF members will have a chance to help each other to manage and hopefully overcome trich. Blog updates will consist of motivation, stress management strategies, tips, personal stories, and the latest scientific research developments. Bookmark this site and check back regularly. Follow TTMFF on Twitter and Facebook too!