It’s the question every Tricher and BFRB sufferer knows and loathes. The question that even now, I still don’t fully know the answer to. The question that somehow always manages to stump me and annoy me at the same time, whenever I hear it:
‘DOES IT HURT?’
Now, I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but this is a question that I am asked all the time. It’s dwelled upon more than ‘so is it like self-harm?’ and even ‘can’t you just stop?’ (which I’ve been asked more times than I’d care to mention) – and it’s a tough question to answer. In fact, I don’t even know how I’m going to get through this blog post, but I’m going to try.
The easiest way to respond to this, without really having to think too deeply about it, is by
saying two little words: ‘It’s complicated’.
But people generally want more information than that before they accept anything you say. So even though that is the truth, others will see it as a cop-out.
So without, further ado, this is my answer to the notorious question:
Yes. It hurts.
But it doesn’t hurt me, physically. A part of this condition, for me, is that I love the feeling of pulling my hair out.
I love the pop I feel and hear when I manage to get a root, and I love the tingling rush that washes over me as soon as it’s left my head.
The thing with Trich is that I’m not just pulling my hair out ‘because I’m stressed’. Yes, stress can be a trigger, but that’s not why I do it.
The part of my Trichotillomania that I talk about the least, is how much I enjoy it.
I love it.
To me, it feels amazing. It calms me, it soothes me. It is an indescribable feeling.
There is a sick thrill in it – like watching one of those gross blackhead videos and feeling calm and satisfied at the end of it.
True, it doesn’t last long. The guilt and shame tends to creep in after you discover a bald spot, or when you run your hands through your hair to find it feels thinner, or when you look down at your clothes, only find that you’re covered in hair.
And that, is the part that hurts.
If I were to rip huge chunks of hair out at once, leaving my scalp sore and bleeding, it still wouldn’t hurt as much as that does.
It breaks me down emotionally. It drains me.
It leads me to believe that I have let everyone who loves me down. That I have let myself down. That I am a weak, useless disappointment.
That hurts so much more than any physical pain I could ever inflict upon myself.
And then like an untreated wound, that feeling will fester.
Glances from strangers at a bald patches I know are on show and even sympathetic comments from family and friends will worsen my pain.
Sometimes it’s more difficult to cope with when people are kind to me about my downfalls, because then I punish myself even harder.
Because I am my own worst critic.
So should I ever sigh when you ask ‘Does it hurt?’ please don’t be offended. Just know that it’s because I don’t have the words, or the heart, to tell you anything other than ‘No, of course not.’
And to all the Trichers who read this blog, I know that it’s an irritating question to be asked. Especially when you are asked over and over again. But try not to be upset or angry when this question does come up. Just look at it this way: At least people are asking questions.
Inquisitiveness is better than Ignorance, and that is what is most important.