Not all of us has heard of trichotillomania, but it is a legit impulse control disorder, generally affecting people with anxiety and depression. Often called the hair-pulling disorder, it affects around 1-2 percent of adults and adolescents, according to Mental Health America.
The disorder causes patients to rip out hair from not only scalps but also eyebrows, eyelashes, face, arms, and legs.
Trichotillomania made headlines recently after an English woman suffering from it came forward to talk about it. After years of fighting this disease, and subsequently becoming a victim of bullying, she decided to talk about how it's like to live with such a compulsive disorder.
Claire Ory, who is now 22, started ripping out hair from the age of nine. Her parents chose to shave her head.
"My parents obviously noticed the gaps in my hair and decided to shave my head when I was 11 to stop me from pulling... It was amazing. I was so happy and I felt like I looked and felt my age again. But this did not last," said Claire, according to The Metro.
After some time, she started getting bullied in school for wearing wigs to cover the bald patches. She said going bald at that age made her anxious and depressed. "I started to develop school phobia," she lamented.
Claire said stress about moving from primary school to secondary school added impetus to the disease. The condition worsened after her mother committed suicide when she was just 13. She started pulling out her eyebrows and eyelashes. She also became too ashamed to attend school and this is when she was diagnosed with trichotillomania.
It took her five long years to accept herself, and she even started modeling at the age of 18.
Claire, who is now a circus contortionist in Bristol, was advised by doctors to adopt cognitive behavioral therapy, also known as habit reversal training, to treat the condition. It involved identifying the triggers and replacing the hair pulling with another action, and maintaining a dairy.
"Although the habit was still bad, I was enjoying wearing different wigs and caps and I was even enjoying my bald head...I even started modeling with my bald head and it made me feel very confident," she said, according to the publication.
However, wigs have their own shortcomings. Claire said she could not wear them when she used to go for sleepovers, swimming and while riding roller coasters. Also, they made her itchy and sweaty on hot days. Slowly, she lost interest in them.
Claire completely ditched her wigs after she started modeling. She now has her hair extensions stitched onto her scalp, which generally costs between £895 and £2,295 ($1,255-3,219).