lifestyle · mental health · trich

A Letter to My Trichotillomania // BFRB Awareness Week 2018

Dear you,

We’ve known each other a while now. More than a while, more than a decade. You might be my oldest friend if that’s not too strange to say.

You know me so well. When I’m bored. When I’m busy. When I’m scared. When I’m safe. When I’m not. You know how to choose your moments, I’ll give you that.

I want you to know that I don’t hate you. A bit like the sibling I never had, I often resent you. But also like a sibling, I don’t know who I am without you around.

I’ve tried ever so slightly to be rid of you, when I’ve felt up to it, from time to time. A few times I have thought to be rid of you for good, but you were just waiting. Like I said, you really know how to choose your moments. And the thing is: you’re still here. Over ten years, hundreds of tears and tantrums later, you’ve stayed. In some ways, I’m scared to lose you. Like I said; I’m not sure who I am without you. The last few years, in particular, you have defined me.

It took a while, but I’m not embarrassed anymore. I may not wear you on my sleeve (or my head) for all to see, but I’m no longer afraid of your part in my life, nor about discussing you objectively. I still can’t say your name, though. Not without hesitation, without preparation.

To many, you simply do not exist and to be frank, I wish I was one of them. To be so ignorant of the strangeness of some parts of life. This weird disorder. This kind of shame.

You’ve taken so many things from me. Freedom. Carelessness. Normality. Esteem. Beauty. Femininity. I still can’t wear my hair down. It’s been four years. I can’t put on mascara, and it’s been a decade.

I try hard not to let it show, what you do to me, the pain you cause. In some ways, I’m over it. In some ways, I couldn’t care less. But anyone could tell that is simply not true. I’ll always care and mourn the loss of what you’ve taken from me. There’s no way I couldn’t, not with models and Instagram and hairdressers around every corner, at every moment’s notice. Not with girls with flowing hair in the wind and mascara adverts and no-makeup days. Some days it hurts worse than others.

But then, I know in reality that I am lucky. I am lucky to put my hair in a ponytail and walk down the street feeling marginally more confident. I am lucky to live in a time where eyeliner is not only in existence but in fashion. I am lucky to have support around me in the form of my loved ones. I am lucky to live in a time of connectivity, where at any second I could talk to someone just like me. See someone just like me. Someone who you have also hurt, and taken from, and I am able to watch content from the safety of my bedroom that makes me feel less alone, less of a freak. I am so lucky to live in the time I do because you have hurt so many that did not have what I have.

Not only from me but from hundreds across the world you have taken. Taken so many opportunities, so much happiness. And for that, I will always resent you.

But that doesn’t mean I have to live in resentment. I am scared of you. I always have been, I always will be. Of having you, of not having you, of losing you, of you returning. Fear doesn’t control me, and I will be a story with a happy ending. A statistic of hope.

Thank you, for what you have taught me. And fuck you, for what you have taken. I won’t be embarrassed or ashamed anymore.

Sincerely,

Jess.

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