Trichotillomania: Losing My Mind, One Strand Of Hair At A Time

Trichotillomania: Losing My Mind, One Strand Of Hair At A Time

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Hair is a spoken word piece about my struggle with Trichotillomania, a body-focussed repetitive disorder wherein the individual constantly feels the impulse to pluck out strands of hair (usually from the scalp/eyebrows/eyelashes, but it could be any sort of body hair). This is also why it is classified as an impulse-control disorder.

Trigger Warning: Descriptions/depiction of hair-pulling as characterised in person diagnosed with Trichotillomania.

I began plucking at the age of 12. It quickly turned into a stress-buster, a habit, something I had to make myself calmer. Before I knew it I began to develop obvious bald spots and people began to ask questions. By the time I was 16, it was clear that I needed help, but I lived in a family setup where admitting you needed a psychiatrist meant you were “mad” or “she'll never get a husband”. For years, I did not even know my illness had a name. Had it not been for an article in a local magazine, I would have had no clue that my condition was shared by other people. But it was the beginning of something better. Knowing my condition empowered me.

Why did I write Hair? Because of silence. There was a lot of silence around my condition. And I wanted that silence to end. I wrote Hair because I love Spoken Word, and there wasn't a lot of it about my condition. Because a woman in a magazine once showed me her bald spots and told me I wasn't alone. That one show of honesty healed my wounds in a way medicines couldn't.

I wrote Hair because someone out there is probably going through the same hell, and I want to be the one pulling them out of it.

(Anu is a poet, mother and member of spoken word poetry band Mental Heads. She has co-written a book of poetry titled A Conversation in Four Parts. She’s from Kerala, born and brought up in Dubai, and has moved between Bangalore and Chennai before finally settling down in Mumbai with her husband and daughter.)

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