National Mental Health Awareness Month: Trichitillomania

This month is National Mental Health Awareness Month, and I’ll most likely be posting quite a bit about mental health, as I typically do.

I entered the mental health world when I was 12 – I was being bullied at school and my parents didn’t believe me. Eventually I developed trichitillomania because I was being bullied for my hair, which I grew to hate.

Trichitillomania is compulsive hair pulling. My self-hatred and misery led to a golf ball sized bald spot on the back of my head that I covered by gathering what I had left into a ponytail.

I never particularly cared that I was depressed, angry at my parents, or that I had trichitillomania – I just wanted someone to do something about the bullying. My boomer parents expected me to punch somebody in the face and be done with it. If I had done that, I would have gotten into a melee with the entire school. Besides, it wasn’t in my nature to throw hands.

My mom noticed the pile of hair by my bed growing ever higher, and took me to the GP one afternoon. He promptly referred me to a childhood psychiatrist, who barred me from therapy until I was on stable medications.

I just wanted someone to talk to. I didn’t perceive any of my so-called friends at the time understood what I was going through, and if they did (they most likely could but were unable to articulate, this is middle school here) and would have happily opened up to a therapist. But Dr. Whatserface? No.

Over the course of two years I would come to take 13 different pills a day… all for my mental health. Within four years I would receive a bipolar diagnosis.

Ten years later I developed chronic pain, which has been linked to bipolar meds I can’t get off of for the sake of my functionality.

Eventually the docs would tell me that all the chemical grief I went through as a child and teenager was unnecessary, but hindsight is 20/20. You live with what you are and what you become. Own it.

I hope this article helps a teenager or parent before hauling off their moody but normal kid to the psychiatrist.

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