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A Beginner’s Guide to a Trichy Life: Self Harm?

Hey, hi, hello there. Without waffling too much like always, here’s a blog post about why Trichotillomania isn’t self harm. You’re welcome.

If you’ve read my posts before, hopefully you’ll be aware (and if you weren’t aware then um… surprise) that I suffer with a disorder called Trichotillomania. This is an Impulse Control Disorder (or ‘ICD’ (not to be confused with the ‘International Classification of Disorders and Diseases’ which is a big ass book about all sorts of stuff)) that causes the sufferer to have the uncontrollable urge to pull out their own hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, etc. Man, that was a mouthful.

And, with any mental disorder or illness, a large amount of stigma comes with being a victim of Trich. Like those with depression, anxiety, phobias, psychotic disorders and many more, there will always be ignorance, and judgement from those who simply do not understand.

I don’t want to go into that subject a lot now, as I feel that warrants its own post further down the line, so today the only part of the stigma I’ll be addressing is the issue of classing Trichotillomania as ‘self-harm’. I’m sure everyone here knows what self-harm is, and all the horrible stereotypes and jokes that surround it. Ugh.

There have been many arguments from professionals and victims alike, debating whether or not Trich should be classed as self-injury, or something completely of its own category. Personally, I vote no. I don’t think Trich is self-harm. And I will tell you why.

I have suffered from both of these issues, on and off for many years. And the difference between them isn’t about how much pain is inflicted, or the marks it leaves or how much blood there is. Both are some form of release for the victim, yes. But Trich is not voluntary. And while there may be people reading this, ready to fly off the handle at what I’m saying because self-harm isn’t a choice blah blah blah, I know that. What I mean is; Trich is a disorder of impulse control. And while people who self-harm may not have very good impulse control, there is a large difference between being unable to stop oneself physically, and being unwilling to stop oneself mentally. Trichotillomania is an involuntary action made by the individual, due to an urge purely to pull the hair.

People with self-harm may do so by pulling out their hair. It is their method of punishing themselves, relieving emotion or anything at all. But people with Trich aren’t doing it to hurt themselves. That is the difference. Intent and act.  People with Trich are not pulling so that they will hurt. They are pulling because they physically cannot help it.

Thanks for listening to my rant,

Jess

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