5 Things Thursday {#15}—The Ugly, the Bad, and the Good: A Trichotillomaniac’s Tale

If you’re a title reader, then your first two thoughts after reading today’s title are probably: A) “Didn’t she mean ‘the good, the bad, and the ugly?’” and B) “What in the living heck is a ‘trichotillomaniac?!!’”

In answer to A) I jacked up the order on purpose.

As for B) a Trichotillomaniac is someone who has Trichotillomania (trick-o-til-o-MAY-nee-ah).

And that, according to The Trichotillomania Learning Center, is “a disorder that causes people to pull out the hair from their scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, pubic area, underarms, beard, chest, legs or other parts of the body, resulting in noticeable bald patches. Hair pulling varies greatly in its severity, location on the body, and response to treatment. For some people, at some times, trichotillomania is mild and can be quelled with a bit of extra awareness and concentration. For others, at times the urge may be so strong that it makes thinking of anything else nearly impossible.”

To put it a bit more succinctly, I am a trichotillomaniac.

I mentioned in my {third} P.S. at the end of yesterday’s post that today’s post would be the hardest I’ve ever written, and some of you may have thought I was being a smidge dramatic.

But after reading the description of trich, you might have changed your mind.

You might even be cringing at the thought of a tell-all downer in which I use you guys as my free psychotherapy so I can get this big bad secret off my chest.

Well, I am indeed heaving a thing or two off my chest today, but I hope that you will bear with me through, yes, the ugly, the bad, and the good, keeping in mind that I ended with that last one for a reason (warning: this post is long).

I’ve titled today’s post “A Trichotillomaniac’s Tale,” so I suppose I should just start telling.

I’ve pulled my hair for as long as I can remember.

Oddly enough, until a month ago, I had never asked my mom when I started exactly.

Her response: “You were itty bitty. 4-years-old, probably. I came to pick you up from Ronda’s house, and your eyes were completely bald, but you didn’t have a clue. You just smiled and said, ‘Hi, Mama!’”

Since the beginning of trich is often associated with a traumatic event, I asked if she knew what had set me off, but she just shook her head and said, “I don’t know. And you didn’t either.”

It’s actually a bit frustrating to know that I’ll never pinpoint an exact cause for the demon that’s plagued me for the last 25 years.

But, mostly, it doesn’t even matter.

The crucial thing is not that I began pulling (or why) but that I continued—chronically, obsessively, uncontrollably—for a quarter of a century.

My eyelashes have always been my area of “expertise,” but I started pulling both my hair and my eyebrows somewhere in my late teens/early 20’s.

(I do know why I added those two, but it’s not important to share here).

I can remember Ronda’s (my childhood best friend) mom saying things like, “Abbie! Don’t pull out your pretty eyelashes! God put them there to keep your eyes safe…to keep yucky stuff out!”

Of course, she was right, but, unfortunately, five-year-olds aren’t terribly motivated by ick-free eyes—not when there’s the lovely cathartic ping and accompanying surge of satisfaction that can be had with one swift yank of the fingers.

The DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)  says that trich “includes the criterion of an increasing sense of tension before pulling the hair and gratification or relief when pulling the hair.”

That last part about gratification…yeah…I totally get that.

Until today, I could count the number of people who know about my trich on two hands, but almost every single one of them has asked me the same question: “Doesn’t it hurt?”

My first response is, “No.”

But the truth is that it does a little, but it’s a “good pain.”

(Are you worried yet?)

Also, that part in the definition of trich at the beginning of this post—the one where it says that “at times the urge may be so strong that it makes thinking of anything else nearly impossible”—I can relate to that too.

On more than one occasion, I have spent a full hour methodically searching through the hair on my head for just the right candidate to pluck—coarse, wiry, not too long—until, awaking from my stupor, I have found myself with 100 “perfect” hairs on my pillow and a dime-sized area as smooth as any baby’s behind.

I’m so busy these days that the thought of spending one full hour doing something so incredibly unproductive almost makes me laugh.

Almost.

But not quite.

The thing is…

Trich is not just weird.

It’s not just an oddity.

It’s not even just a bad habit.

It’s a living thing that follows you everywhere.

To places like the pool, where it whispers, “Are you sure you want to get in that water? Aren’t you afraid that your carefully applied mascara and brow-liner will all wash away, and everyone will know just how big a freak you really are?”

It sits right beside you at the salon and helps you come up with creative explanations (also known as lies) when your hairdresser discovers that bald patch on the side of your head.

It makes you turn away to avoid profile pics that show just how scraggly the few lashes you have left are.

It makes you wonder what your husband is really thinking when he leans in to kiss you.

It makes you feel like something much less than a woman.

But—and hear me on this—I did not say that trich is a disease.

And hear me on this as well: if you suffer from trich, and you disagree with the above statement, I’m okay with that.

I’m not here to start a fight.

I’m only here to tell my story in the hope that it might help others, whatever they might struggle with.

The DSM-IV (and yes, I’m a little uncomfortable with quoting an entity whose title includes the words “mental disorder”) defines trich as “an impulse control disorder” right up there with “pyromania, pathological gambling and kleptomania.”

So, here’s my reasoning: a disease is something completely out of your hands, something that you must live with, unless you have access to medical intervention.

But each of these “disorders” is treatable.

A pyromaniac can stop setting fires.

A gambler can never set foot in a casino again.

A klepto can start paying for his purchases.

A trichotillomaniac can stop pulling.

Please, Jesus, may it be so.

So, why in the name of peanut butter sandwiches and chick flicks am I telling you guys all of this?

Why not just go on posting cute little DIY projects and wowing you with my we-built-an-entire-house-with-nothing-but-our-bare-hands-and-some-boot-straps posts?

(Thank so much for all your sweet comments, by the way; totally encouraged and blessed!).

Because, although it is the nature of a blog to only show the good stuff…the impressive stuff…the finished product stuff…

The truth of the matter is that I am very much a work in progress, and there’s a lot of that process that isn’t terribly pretty.

And, while I’m not much of one for sharing for sharing’s sake, if there’s something about my honesty in this that might help even one of you to know that:

a) you’re not alone

and

b) there is hope

…then I will willingly (I did not say gladly) puncture the balloon that is your unrealistically positive perception of me and let it drift to the ground where it can stay, shriveled up and not terribly attractive.

But real.

I love that some of you think so highly of me.

Don’t get me wrong.

I’m as vain as the next girl.

And I have a pretty good idea of my strengths and weaknesses.

I don’t think I’m a loser.

I know that God has gifted me in certain areas.

Please, please don’t read this post and think that this is a cry for validity or a case of I-hate-myself-itis.

Contrary to what most of the research shows about trich-sufferers, I have robust self-esteem, and I have family and friends who build it up by showing me how much they value and love me on a regular basis.

But when I occasionally get comments about my being “gorgeous” (I’m not) or “amazing” (far from it…although I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the sweetness behind such incredible compliments), I want to climb on top of my roof and holler “Oh yeah?!? Well, look at THIS!”

DSCF1924 DSCF1933

Not so “gorgeous” now, huh?

The pics above are from several years ago, as part of an accountability project with a friend that ultimately helped me to break my hair-pulling habit.

I got to keep a souvenir, though—this lovely jet-black kinky addition to my scalp as a forever reminder that, even if you break free, there are always scars.

IMG_0945

I’m guessing I know what you’re thinking about now: “But Abbie, you post pictures of yourself all the time. And I’ve never noticed a thing.”

That might be because I’ve never wanted you to notice.

For the most part, I’m just really good with make-up and camera angles, but there has been the time or two when I really wanted a certain shot but couldn’t bring myself to post the untouched-up version.

Not without an explanation, anyway, and I wasn’t quite ready to give it.

Oh, the joy of the “retouch” feature on Picasa.

IMG_4633 The truth.

See that big hole in the middle?

And this is my eyelashes doing “well.”

Now, you might look at the pics and say, “Oh, it’s really not that bad, Abbie.”

I’ve heard that before.

But let me assure you that the pics that I’ve shown you so far are not the worst.

Not by a long shot.

They’re just the worst I had the guts to document.

In my adult years, there have been numerous times when I have had no more than 15 eyelashes on each eyelid and practically 0 lower-lashes (although I tend not to pull those nearly as much…in fact, they’re the only reason that I appear to have practically any eyelashes in the “eyes-closed” version of the makeup-less shot above).

I have had completely penciled-in eyebrows.

And I have easily maintained a 2”X2” bald patch on the side of my head.

Sometimes, I’ve managed to pull off (sorry, bad choice of words) this three-ring circus act all at once…depending on my situation in life and stress-levels.

So, what are my triggers?

Well, stress, definitely.

The more pressure I feel or put on myself to accomplish something, meet a deadline, try to do too many things…the more likely I am to pull.

But it’s not that cut-and-dried.

Sometimes, good things will set me off too.

One time, an editor contacted me about my book, wanting to see more, and I, after busting my tail for months to get a full set of eyelashes and almost succeeding, spent hours upon hours revising my manuscript.

And pulling.

And pulling.

(Writing is a major trigger for me because, as I worry about choosing the right words, I use my fingers to literally worry my eyelashes or hair out).

She ended up passing on the manuscript.

And I ended up starting from scratch.

Again.

It’s quite literally the story of my life.

I won’t say it’s what defines me, but it has played a role in the story of my entire life as I remember it.

You want to hear the weirdest part is?

I’ve never really wanted to stop.

Oh, sure. I’ve wanted full eyelashes and eyebrows and no bald patches in my hair.

But not enough to quit.

Until now.

In December of 2011 (just two short months ago), my eyelashes were the worst they’d been in a while.

It was embarrassing and getting harder to hide.

IMG_8540

It’s a little hard to tell in this shot, but I have practically zero eyelashes on my right eye and only that tiny wisp you see sticking out on the left.

You guys might recognize this picture from its panned out version

IMG_8540-1

Told you I was good at hiding it.

Well, one night (December 9th, to be exact; I remember because my husband was finally coming home from all of his work-trips the next day), I was on the phone with my brother, and he started talking about getting a tattoo.

I told him that I had considered it but that if I did, it would only be for one reason—because I had beaten my trich, and I wanted a permanent reminder to never go back again.

And he said, “Well, let’s beat it, then.”

Of course, Shae knows that I have always battled trich.

But it’s not something I talk about much (not that you would believe it from this post, huh?), even with my family, and especially with a brother whom I adore and want to have a good opinion of me.

So, I told Shae it wouldn’t be that easy.

And I told him why: I have practically never gone a day without pulling something for as long as I can remember, even at my better points.

His response?: “I will call you every night for a month, and we will beat this thing.”

And you know what?

He did. (He kept calling or texting for the next month too!)

And we did.

So far anyway.

shae and me

This pic was taken on the night of Shae’s surprise 30th birthday barn-dancing bash I threw for him exactly three years ago today.

Today is his birthday.

Happy Birthday, Bro!

I love you!

And I have a little something for you:

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They’re not perfect yet, but they’re a heckuva lot better than this:

DSCF1924

Aren’t they?

IMG_1440

Yes!

IMG_1441

Even in the dreaded profile shot:

IMG_1438

For the past 2 months (as of Feb. 9th), I’ve consistently slapped my hand down almost every time I’ve reached up to pull because I’ve known that Shae would ask me later on “how my eyeballs” were (such a way with words that man has).

I haven’t intentionally pulled an eyelash out in 3 weeks.

I have never gone that long without pulling before.

(Sad, but true).

Am I cured?

No.

Will I ever be?

Probably not.

I will forever struggle (more like all-out wrestle) with the urge to pull.

But I have written many words between December 9th and today (heck, I wrote all of these!), and I have been stressed, overwhelmed, and a little on the crazy-feeling side at various times throughout the last few months.

And yet, I haven’t plunged off the precipice even once.

(A precipice that is both frightening and numbingly discouraging because of the sheer volume of time it takes to grow back even one single eyelash. The number of times I’ve said, “Screw it. I’ve already messed up. Might as well pull ‘em all” is…well, picture the sand on the beach, and you’ve got a shamefully good idea).

So, why can I do it now when I never could before?

1) Because of Shae’s prayerful commitment to keep me accountable.

My husband has never been anything other than sweet, understanding, and supportive in all of this mess that is my struggle with trich.

But he’s too close.

I needed someone who loved me enough to stick it out to the end but who was removed enough to avoid the emotional trauma of the worry about my husband’s seeing me as beautiful (he does, and I know it).

2) Because of the Holy Spirit.

As I have slowly pried one finger at a time off of this life-long source of both pain and comfort, the Holy Spirit has prompted me time and again to hang on one more hour without pulling and then one more hour after that.

3) Because the thought of being 30 and still going through the same daily cycle of temptation, capitulation, shame, despair, hope, then despair again—wash, rinse, repeat—made me sick to my stomach.

4) Because all three of my children have the most beautiful eyelashes, and I’ve seen them pick at them sometimes, and I know it’s my fault.

5) Because of you.

I’ve had this deadline in my mind since two months ago, and I’ve imagined being able to write this post so many times that it practically became another accountability partner, reminding me that it wasn’t worth it, every time my hand wandered toward my eyes, saying, “Just think! You can brag to your blog-readers that you, Shae, and God did it if you’ll just hang in there a little longer and develop a good habit to replace this old, nasty, cancerous one.”

Because, for me, the repetition of not touching is the most important thing.

Well, duh, Abbie.

But no.

Really.

Think about it.

I can do better and still touch my eyes.

But I’m not interested in better anymore.

And I can’t touch my eyes and beat it completely.

Because, with my history, if I touch them at all, I will eventually pull something out.

And I probably won’t be able to stop at just “something.”

It’s like a recovering alcoholic taking even one step into a bar.

He may not have a drink that first time, but if he keeps going back, he will eventually cave.

Same here.

If I pull, even to fiddle with mascara, then I will eventually pull to feel that familiar rush of pain/pleasure.

But if I never touch them, then it’s not an option.

Period.

I’m not quite to that point yet, but I’m the closest I’ve ever been, and I want to take a moment to say thank you.

To you.

My readers.

Who didn’t even know a thing about all this.

And who still managed to inspire me in ways I can’t fully express.

Last of all (I’m almost done…promise), let me just say that, if you struggle with trich or any other addiction, I am in no way saying I know how to “fix” you.

Again, this is only my story.

But I feel your pain.

I do.

And if my “solution” sounds too easy, it isn’t.

It’s a combination of a lot of factors, the most powerful of which are a really great accountability partner, a realistic goal, prayer, and a genuine desire/readiness to finally change for good.

And it’s an ongoing solution that I hope to never take for granted.

If you have a story of hope or struggle to share, either here in the comments or in the linky I’ve provided below, and you think it will help you to have an accountability partner, I will do my best to be that for you.

I’ve been there.

I’m still there and working through it.

If you’d rather email me, I will read.

If you need me to pray for you, I will.

I may be just another screw-up, and I may not have much to offer, but I am a screw-up redeemed by the grace of God, and I will say with Romans 8:38:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,m neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor trich, nor cutting, nor complusive overeating, nor anger-issues, nor…nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Not if we surrender them to Him.

I am so grateful for each and every one of you.

Thanks for reading.

I hope you’ll be back tomorrow.

P.S. (You know I had to : )) I will not turn this blog into a trich-fest. In fact, I probably won’t mention it very often, except in response to something you guys say or to give you periodic updates on my progress.

Because, like it or not, you’re my accountability partners now too, and I plan to stay accountable.

 

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99 thoughts on “5 Things Thursday {#15}—The Ugly, the Bad, and the Good: A Trichotillomaniac’s Tale

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  3. I’m a new reader, but I read every chance I get. I found this, and I’m so glad I did. I battle trich, and dermatillomania. I am 27, and I have for about 12 years. I really want to be able to stop, so I’m praying for self control, and the follow through. I pull my leg hair, and always have to wear pants, can’t get a massage, or go swimming, because I’m embarrassed about it. Until today, I never knew anybody else struggled with it, and I never knew either one of them had a name. I was so encouraged that I’m not alone, and that God can and will help me through this. You are so brave for posting this. I am sick of wearing pants, and hiding who I am. My husband has never said anything negative about it, but I’m sure he would love to see me kick this! I know this post was about 2 years ago, and it appears that you don’t struggle with it anymore. I was wondering if you ever got that tattoo? Thanks so much for being vulnerable for the chance to help someone else. You definitely helped me.

  4. I am so grateful you bravely shared your story with us!! I do not have your struggle, but I have one of my own…a stupid habit that I desire greatly to overcome…and I don’t even have the courage to say it, yet you shared it ALL!!! THANK YOU!!! You have given me the motivation to let God REMOVE this burden of sinful habit from me…mine isn’t a “name” or diagnosed, but I know it’s a habit that stems from sin.

    I am sure your greatest desire is that you would inspire someone else to BELIEVE God will strengthen them to stop…TODAY. Know that you have done that in my life! THANK YOU for sharing and may God continue to strengthen you!!!!

  5. I really appreciate your honesty and transparency here, and I am sure that you have helped people more than you know, just by your sharing.

    I love the part in II Cor. 12:10 ” that says…..when I am weak, He is strong.” Because we’re all struggling with something. No one is perfect. No one is alone. We all need Him to be strong for whatever our need is. And He is! He never fails us.

    What a sweet brother you have and a precious husband and family.

  6. Keep up the good fight, Abbie. Even though it’s a struggle everyday, hang in there for your kids. I am the child of a hoarder and can verify that our bad “habits” affect our kids. I’m not being judgmental at all and believe me, there’s PLENTY in my life that needs correction and attention too. I’m just saying that your children are watching and the example you set everyday will teach them how to navigate their world. I’m actually speaking more about myself than your kids –I’m sure that they are fine. My Mother is a wonder person/Mother/caregiver/etc…, but she has allowed the “stuff” to cut her off from her family. She won’t let us go into her house because of the cumulative result of her never conquering her hoarding problem. Even though I’ve researched her mental illness and my brain knows that she can’t help it, my heart still feels that she “picks” the stuff over her children and grandchildren. If you ever feel weak and are fighting the desire to start pulling something out, think of your children, and that will give you strength. I know that is easy to say and harder to live, but I know that you can do it. Even though I am not a hoarder (yet), I still give feelings and personality to objects and can’t get rid of them. Where did that come from? My Mother of course, who assigned feelings and personality to all my (and everyone else’s) childhood clothes/toys/objects. Everyone has their own demons to fight and we can all support each other. Thanks for sharing your ordeal with us. It makes us feel that we are not alone in our struggles. Keep us posted on your progress and you are a beautiful lady in every picture that I’ve ever seen of you.

  7. Thank you for sharing. You are so brave to share, mostly because I know that the scariest thing about sharing is now there are more eyes watching and more people to disappoint if you “fail” or slip. Don’t look at it that way but look at it as you have this many cheerleaders cheering you on now and here for you!

  8. Wow. Thank you so much for sharing your inspiring story. I am so sorry you have had to deal with this, but also glad that it brought you to rely on God. I have moderate to severe OCD which often presents as skin picking (also with a long ‘mania’ name). I am pretty good with makeup, and I don’t think I’ve ever really told anyone. I’ll get better until something stressful happens and then bam, my face is a mess again. It is such a discouraging battle. I will be praying for you and would definitely appreciate your prayers in return.

  9. I stumbled across your blog from pinterest because I found something pretty you had made- though I can not remember at this moment what it was because your story was more beautiful than the craft project that brought me to your site. I have seen my wife be prisoner to dermatillomania (skin picking) for many years now and I have witnessed her daily struggle first hand. I pray that she will be blessed with the tools and willpower (as you have) to overcome this obstacle in her life. Everyday may present some struggle, but I commend you on your amazing effort and hope that you will continue to do well in your recovery. You are certainly an inspiration to all who read your story and struggle with addiction. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

  10. Abbie- I’m a first time visitor…ended up here by following a pin on Pinterest of your Anthro-knock-off trinket candlesticks (awesome, by the way). What great courage you show by posting your story and I truly hope that it helps you to stay accountable. Good luck..and know that a passer-by and new subscriber found some inspiration in your story.

  11. Abbie,

    Thank you for your courage to write with an open heart and share your story. We all have our personal battles, and secret shame.. I have PCOS and have struggled for many years with hirotuism. I have to shave my face every single day. I can relate to your feelings of being less than a women… I can never go camping, or missions or be farther than 24 Hrs from my last shave. It’s hellish for me.. I wear makeup to conceal the shadowing, but feel that I mainly resemble a feminine drag queen. ugh!

    I will print your post and keep it near; you have lifted my spirits so much this evening!

    Thank you,

  12. It took a lot of courage to share your story and there is nothing that God can’t do in your life if you believe. God Bless you!

  13. This is following the prompting of the Holy Spirit. What a good God that would provide you with a following that would be so understanding, and one that would identify so perfectly with your pain. I am so grateful for the inspiring example you have been in obeying the Holy Spirit by baring your soul. I appreciate you so much for being that example. How wonderful that God has been planning this post for you for quite a while! He prepared this audience for you and then He gave you courage! Thank you for being obedient! May you be blessed by this post as much as we, your audience, have been!

  14. Oh, Abbie! You make me proud to “know” you. We all have this inside of us, manifesting itself in so many different ways. We all have strongholds, we all find ourselves in that “cycle.” My dad, for example, is a recovering alcoholic. He had to quit cold turkey, much like you’re describing. There’s no such thing as “slowing down” or “getting better” if you really want freedom. This past December (12), was his 9-year anniversary of sobriety. I’m so stinking proud of him! And I’m extremely proud of you. I’ll be battling for you in prayer moving forward!

    P.S. One of my friends from my church in Kansas City struggled with Trich. She had an attitude very similar to yours and just wanted to stop…so she shaved her long, beautiful hair off. She proudly sported a wig and constantly asked us to partner with her in prayer. She wouldn’t allow her hair to grow back out until she felt confident that God had grown her into a place where healing had truly begun. It was a brave move on her part, but the less it was hidden, the more it forced her to face it. I’m really truly proud of both of you!

  15. Abbie, Beautifully written!! I SO enjoy your blog. Your humor is right on:) Our God is a mighty God!
    You are touching so many lives with your positive outlook. Thank you for sharing!!

  16. Accountability and transparency, two of the hardest, hardest, hardest things we can aspire to as humans, particularly in the rosy pink world of “fashion blogging.” Lady, you’re so brave to let us into this deeply personal part of your life and I know I look forward to cheering you on as you make the daily choice to combat your impulse to pull. Proud of you!

  17. Isn’t it amazing what the good Lord and his Holy Spirit can do? I tell people that God can do anything…even assist (and put people/circumstances into your life) you in order to help you overcome an addiction to whatever.

  18. wow, you are brave. I have it too. I started when I was 11 or 12 pulling eyelashes and eyebrows until theywere gone. I didn’t know what it was and no one else did either. See, I’m 61 and these things weren’t know about then. I was 39 before I heard what it was called, on the Oprah show. I have lived my live picking and hiding it trying to stop and have been unable to except for some reason while I was pregnant. I had beautiful lashes and as soon as I had the baby and we were stuck in the hospital for 5 days, (unheard of today) because he had jaundice, I started pulling with a vengence. I never went to a doctor because I just always assumed I was crazy. But in college I met a girl who did it too. We became fast friends. Please continue trying to control it because you could end up like me. I wasn’t able to completely ever stop and now I have almost no lashes because the roots are all gone, damaged and I have no more that come in. But it was so good to hear about your struggle (not good for you) because you feel like you are the only one in the world who does this. I don’t worry so much about it any more and it has calmed down quite a bit. But what you said about a traumatic event makes sense because my friend and I both came from homes where our fathers were alcoholics. Thank you for sharing and I hope you have success with your struggle.

  19. Good for you!! You go, girl! We all have our issues; and this is the beauty of the body of Christ, that we can be transparent and still LOVE and be loved. :-)

  20. I never have pulled out my hair but around the last 6 weeks of nursing school I started. I was super stressed and don’t know exactly how it got started. When you said that you search for that perfect strand to pull I totally relate. It doesn’t really hurt but it is so very gratifying. I’ve been doing it for less than 3 months now, it’s not bad (>10 a day) but I know it’s a crutch and I should stop.

  21. Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this! I have Trich too and sometimes it’s so easy to feel like I’m the only one and like I’m completely crazy!
    I am so proud of you for going so long without pulling. I know just how difficult that is. I started with my eyelashes in middle school and moved onto my hair in high school. I luckily got myself to stop with my eyelashes when I switched, but my hair is still an everyday problem. It can be done though! We can overcome this!!

  22. Go Abbie! That can’t have been an easy post to share/write. You must feel very blessed to have Shae as an accountability partner. And even though I’m only new to your blog, I believe you ARE beautiful. Not the “Oh you are beautiful on the inside” thing (although that seems to be true), but you have been given a beauty by God that NO ONE else has. NO ONE else looks, talks, or thinks the way you do. No one has the gifts that you do. And your race is your own. Keep focused on the goal, and the one who gives you strength to do it all.
    Blessings,
    Sheree xo

  23. Sorry it took me 100 years to comment but I just NOW got to a computer, most of the time I read in Google Reader… Anyways, as we say in Celebrate Recovery – thank you for sharing! I’ve never seen an addict in recovery be successful without accountability! Thank you to Shae. Also, I wanted to encourage you to keep working on the reasons behind this addiction if you do not know them already. We can always treat the symptoms but until we bring the source into the light (not necessarily public, but the light of our mind), God cannot fully heal us. If you know them already, just disregard what I’m saying :-) I just wasn’t sure. Love your authenticity and praying for ya!

  24. I’m a new reader…I just started reading your blog a few days ago and I came here from a link party on House of Hepworths (if I remember correctly) although I could have that wrong… You had posted about your 30 minute Goodwill Challenge and, after reading that, I thought, “I like this girl!” So, I’ve been back to read several more times. This post you have put up about your struggles is amazing. You are being so brave to put yourself out here like this. Your brother is awesome…I always wanted a brother and here’s a perfect example of what a great brother can do. May God give you the courage and the strength to persevere through this. I have the habit of biting the inside of my cheeks…don’t know when it started, probably as a young child when my parents fought. Now, it’s a stress thing, and sometimes, I don’t even realize I’m doing it. Your decision to beat your habit is encouraging me to beat mine. Thanks for including us in your accountability. Blessings, Kathy

  25. Abbie…….You are so good with words. Your descriptions of the emotional that go with impulse control of emotional-based disorders is right on. Mine is a disordered relationship with food. The results of that are apparent to everyone, all the time. I’m still struggling, and I intend to write about it someday, too. You give me courage. I am your sister in Jesus. Thank you.

  26. I’m just now reading this on Friday because for some reason I didn’t get the email yesterday. Well….I just took my 12 year old yesterday to the dermatologist because her eyelashes all came out over 2 years ago because she kept “rubbing her eyes too hard” and they haven’t come back. The dermatologist said she sees the follicles so they ARE coming in and asked her if she’s “picking”. She said she still rubs her eyes and then demonstrated. The doctor wrote out this really, really long word and told me it could be the cause. I was so shocked to see your post using that long word! But, my daughter doesn’t seem to have any other place where she’s “missing” hair. I don’t know what to think but was just blown away that your post was about what we just heard about at the doctors.

  27. Ohmygosh! I don’t even have words to say…I’m sitting at my desk so close to tears! Thank you for sharing your story. I do not have this problem but someone close to me has struggled with a something very similar. I could not understand it but somehow your post made me see things in a different light. We all have our skeletons in the closet but I am so grateful that God helps us to deal with them all. He is and will continue to do the same for you. Hang in there!

  28. thanks for sharing your story! we all have our secrets and our ugly stuff…all have our things that seek to define us. but at the end of the day, Jesus is victorious over everything! praying for you.

  29. I don’t think I can say much more than a big humdinger AMEN! Posting about this took a lot of courage. The last thing I want is for anyone to think I’m perfect, but that sure as heck doesn’t mean I want to share the least favorite things about myself either, so I applaud your bravery in sharing this very real part struggle with us. I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to do it.

    May God continue to help you day by day by day!

    P.S. – Many years ago, I had a roommate with the same problem – I’m not sure she even knew a name for it back then (in the late 80′s).

    Blessings for today,
    Angie @ Knick of Time

  30. Congratulations! No, not on “beating” trich, but on having the courage to try and the incredible bravery to bare yourself to people you have never met. You are beautiful… and not because of your lovely hair and lashes, but because of the soul and self that shines through your eyes. Good luck on your battle. Know that people you’ve never met hold you in their hearts, minds and prayers. Because you are worth it.

  31. Awesome post Abbie! So genuine and true. Thanks for sharing and here’s to continued strength as you beat this!!!

  32. You go girl! I’m learning too (different issue) that with God we can acheive what we never thought was possible… by taking it one day, or one hour, or maybe even one minute at a time.

  33. Thank you for sharing the ugly the bad and the good. We all have it in some shape or form. I pray that by the grace of God you continue to win this battle. I have naturally sparse eyebrows, so I had my eyebrows and eyeliner tatooed. Love it.

  34. You are definitely a strong woman for writing this. I’m fairly new to your blog (I’ve posted only a couple of times on your link party), and I enjoy reading your posts. I’ve been dealing with trich since the 3rd grade. Mostly eyelashes and eyebrows. Thank you for showing that it can be done. It is definitely a hard battle, and I am very impressed with how far you have come!

    Gabby
    The…Late, Young Family

  35. Thank you so much for posting this. I am a hair puller too. I know all about lying to my hairdresser (I must sleep on it funny, maybe that’s why I have so much broken hair.) I admire your bravery to publicly admit this problem. xoxo

  36. This is the most genuine post I have ever read on any blog! I am a new reader and it makes me want to come back and read more! It’s so refreshing when people are real. I think your readers trust you even more. Ya know what brought tears to my eyes? A girl in love with her Savior! Jesus has brought me through so much too! God bless you, sis. PS On a different topic… I have wicked eye brows. What kind of brow pencil do you use? They look amazing!

    P

  37. I am so glad you shared this! You are loved and accepted. We all have brokenness. It just looks different. I I appreciate that you acknowledge that even though it is so hard, you can stop with God’s help. I think sometimes we camp out on “this is my personality” or “this is a disease” but in Christ we are new creations! That is so neat your brother is supporting you that way! God bless you on this journey, Abbie!

  38. I am impressed with the authenticity….which is always a good thing in my book..no matter the subject. I can relate on some level…I’ve been pulling out my eye lashes for years. Not sure what the trigger was. I’ve had gaps of missing lashes off and on over the years and used makeup to hide it. I don’t pull them out to the degree that I used to, but I still pick at them. I’m so happy for your success over the last months. Your lashes look beautiful. I’m a new follower. So, I’ll be checking in on you.
    Sharon

  39. Dear Abbie,
    I want you to know that I will be praying for you every day. I am also going to use this as my accountability to stop biting my fingernails{chronic, for sure}. I have done it for sooo long and have stopped and started, and stopped and started so. many. times. It is something that constantly embarrasses me and makes me feel like less, but I know that we are all the same in God’s eyes, and we can have the victory over ANYTHING through Him! Praise Jesus! I am so proud of you for sharing your story and blessing us again with your beautiful, bold and brave self.
    You are beautiful.
    You are loved.
    You CAN do this.
    xoxo
    Mary

  40. Abbie, you are a beautiful woman of God with so many gifts and talents. Not least of which is your ability to tell a story. Thank you for telling YOUR story. God’s redemptive nature is beautiful and powerful and often times so, very painful. But, your story is His story, which is our story. That’s how the Body works, right?

  41. I know it’s not easy sharing things, but you are brave. Your eyebrows are looking wonderful. I pencil mine in, since they are naturally very thin and very blonde you can’t see them. When I was little kids use to tease me that I didn’t have eyebrows. Keep up the good work, although I can’t relate to pulling my hair out, since I prey to keep the little I have, I can relate to self sabotage. Thank you for sharing your struggles and and I know you will keep on improving.

  42. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and I already thought you were beautiful because of your writing style and the way you share with the world. After this post, I think you’re even more beautiful. Inner beauty is the best kind, girl, and you have it! Thanks for sharing with all of us.

  43. Hi, Abbie! Long time reader, first time commenter… harhar! First, lemme just gush some admiration… I read your blog everyday and it’s definitely a bright spot. Your posts never fail to leave me smiling and motivated. You exude joy and genuineness in what you share here.
    When I opened your page today and read trichotillomania in the title my stomach immediately dropped and I i.n.s.t.a.n.t.l.y had an intensely emotional, judging response. It went something like, “Oh no. Another person pulling out the big word of a legitimate disorder to hyperbolize their stressful day. Do people have no consideration??? I really like her blog too…” Yeah… so before I go on, I apologize to you for that. As I finished reading your post I came pretty close to crying. My knee-jerk judgement came up because I’ve stuggled with trichotillomania’s cousin, dermatillomania, from a very young age (about two decades) and so know on a very personal level the reality of the persistent distress it creates. It’s not something I can take lightly at all. At the very worst for me I was wearing pants and long sleeves in August (several summers in a row) to hide the condition of my skin. To have come to your blog today and read your honest, gracious account of your struggle is a blessing I’m very grateful for. Thank you for your courage and encouragement. Your determination is very much an inspiration.

  44. I am just so inspired by you! God is so amazing and teaches us something in the littlest of ways! I had an horrid eating disorder for a long time. God has used it to make me grow and rely on him! I am praying for you! Thanks for being an inspiration! Blessings and love!

  45. Abbie, I’m very proud of you. Honesty is very hard and we all have a great need in our lives for accountability. I have been reading your blog for a while now and you are gifted in so many areas. Keep up the good work, prayer really helps and so does an amazing brother. You can overcome and he has already made a way for you. You are in my prayers now.

  46. Thank you for bravely sharing something that is so obviously hard to share. I have a friend that I’ve known for about 10 years that suffers from trich. I will be sharing your post with her in the hopes that it will help her know that she’s not alone. I suffer from weight issues and I can relate to the “touching” thing. Where you touch your eyebrows and know you will pull…. I have a similar love/hate with food. Imagine giving up food…impossible. Again thanks for sharing. God bless.

  47. Hi Abbie, your honesty is so encouraging. I have recently tried more to let people in and tell them about things because I realized that it is too hard to keep everything in. I also know it has helped keep me SUPER accountable about things when other people know, which is good, but sometimes annoying :) You are amazing and our beauty comes from honesty and faith, not eyelashes! But, I still think you are totally gorgeous on the outside too! You rock!

  48. Wow, that was confession that must have been so hard for you. I am humbled by your transparency, and I am inspired by your determination. I actually feel a little guilty linking up my little linky project here since it was such a deep post!! ♥ Take care woman, and thanks for sharing your struggles. I love people that “keep it real”. I’m a new follower in the the last couple of weeks and I really enjoy your blog.

  49. Thanks so much for being transparent and sharing. What an encouragement! We all have something we’re trying to work out in our lives and your story brings much hope. God’s grace is sufficient, because His power is made perfect in weakness!!

  50. Hey Abbie.. Ps. I can not for the life of me figure out why my real full name comes up in place of my blog’s name? Do ya? I’ve blogged for awhile and have never run into this on any other blog I follow…?
    cubarado.blogspot.com

  51. Abbie, I’m a new follower of your blog and can I just say…
    “Praise be to God who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any troubles with the comfort we ourselves have received from God!” 2 Cor.1:3-4
    Your words today were powerful & raw, full of love and encouragement from the Lord!
    Thank You! Shine On! ~ Jaime

  52. Wow, and praise the Lord for where He has brought you. I have been reading your blog for a while, but never commented before. Love all your cute thriftiness, but LOVE how you are overcoming through the strength of the Lord. 2 Cor 12:9 “His strength is made perfect in weakness”.

  53. Oh, I’m glad that you reached that point of being sick of the cycle to the point of needing a change.

    And YES! What if Jesus were our addiction? Kind of puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?

    Thanks so much for taking the time to comment today. I’m so glad you’re reading and more glad that you found some encouragement what I wrote.

    Bless you too!

  54. I’ve been reading your blog (and Mandy’s) for awhile but have never commented. I enjoy each of your posts and appreciate your faith and honesty. Thank you for sharing. It really is an encouragement and inspiration to others. We all have something we struggle with…an outlet. Just today I had decided to make a change also in my area of struggle. I, too, am tired of the “wash,rinse, repeat” cycle. I want Jesus to be my outlet. :) Thank you again for sharing. Bless you.

  55. Abbie, what a journey! While I didn’t know what trich was until today, I can identify with battling a long standing thorn in the flesh. My nemesis was anxiety and it started young, One thing I can say about my journey is this weakness brought me closer to Him in a daily dependence that I would not have otherwise known, I’m afraid. And while I would leave all the struggle and the ugly memories behind in a minute, without those I wouldn’t know what it is to have been pulled out from under the heap of mess and be set back on my feet by Him. Knowing His transformative power is my greatest blessing in this life. Although, I still battle it to lesser degree, it is this one major struggle in my life that I look back on and KNOW, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He is the only reason I am a functional adult. And I am so so thankful.

    Paul’s walked down this road too, just like us, and he said it best: 2 Cor 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses,.. in hardships … in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

  56. Okay, Renee, this is good to know because I definitely wouldn’t have thought that my struggles with trich would keep anybody coming back for more. Scare ‘em off, more like! : ) I’m so glad you appreciate my honesty. And I so appreciate your prayers and encouragement!

  57. I am a recent follower of your’s and admit I don’t come back every day, but now I will. I want to be your accountability partner and I WANT to know how YOU’re doing whenever you feel so inclined to share. It’s funny how we get and feel connected to complete strangers. I like that you shared a REAL struggle along with your creative side here on your blog. It makes me come back for more. And I want to know what that new tattoo is going to be and what it’s going to look like!! Keep the creative juices flowing and be strong, my new friend. We’re all watching and praying!! :)

  58. I’m new to your blog and love reading it everyday. You are so courageous to share this personal struggle. I know it was not easy. You are beautiful, inside and out. May God bless you and your family!

  59. Abbie. I admire you. You really are amazing. We all have/had demons that plague us, and I’m grateful for you pointing to the only One who can bring true freedom from the bonds of addiction, compulsion or any other lie. You are a treasure, beautiful friend! Love you!

  60. Abbie – Thank you for posting this! It’s inspiring and refreshing to see a blogger show her real self. I’ll say prayers for continued strength for you and anyone who reads this who needs it too!

    On a more vain note – what lipstick are you wearing in the very last profile shot?? Gorgeous!

  61. Ah, yes. The power of photographing only what you want to.

    It’s a dangerous ability. : \

    I hope you will be able to work through the issues you mentioned.

    I’m adding you to my prayer list.

    Thanks for reading and sharing sweet words of encouragement.

  62. Kathleen,

    I am so impressed and touched that you admitted something to me that you’ve never told anyone else. Your comment brought tears to my eyes because a response like yours is about the only thing that makes writing this post worth it.

    Thank you.

    I will pray for you, friend.

    You can do this.

  63. Thank you for writing this. Never have I admitted to anyone that I pull out my hair (and have since I was 8). I cut my hair short so I couldn’t see it, but never really said that was why. Now that it is growing out and I can see it again, I am struggling. And it is totally embarrassing, but I cannot tell you how much I needed to read this today. This post is true encouragement.

  64. I still think you’re beautiful and I still think you’re amazing. Even more so now that you have courageously shared this with strangers! I had never heard the term before I came across another woman’s confession on her blog several months ago. You are so brave! I don’t even know you, but I am totally proud of you!
    ~Joanna
    http://toaprettylife.blogspot.com

  65. i read your blog daily. don’t usually comment. just wanted you to know that i’m proud of you and will pray for you to overcome. you are on the right track. god bless you!

  66. It’s like you were reading my mind today.
    I’ve battled with trich since elementary school. I guess it was around the time my parents divorced.
    You totally hit home when you said you spent an hour searching for the perfect hair to pull. I know that feeling all too well. My dad noticed when i was 10 and took me to the dr bc he suspected that i was pulling out my eyelashes and i denied it until i was blue in the face because i was embarassed.
    I continued to pluck my eyebrows until they were non-existant and pull my hair until last year. I don’t know what made me stop but one day i couldn’t take it anymore.
    I struggle everyday to not pull and i’ll catch myself digging through my hair and make myself stop.
    I hope you do updates and let us know how you are doing!

  67. God bless you! Thank you for sharing your struggle. If you can work on your trich, it gives me hope that I too can work on getting through my issues. And by the way…you are a great photographer…I would have never known :-)

  68. abbie, thank you for sharing something so personal. this is a God breeze for me today. i luv that you trust us and think enuf of us to share this. I like to see The Ugly, the Bad, and the Good makes me feel and know that my shortcomings and issues are ok that i am not a failure to have these. I know that we all do but in this day and age it is so easy for us to not show it to only show the perfected personna ( i know i do all the time). i hope u do post REGULAR updates on how you are doing, i luv that you think of us as an accountability partner. oh and your bro – well he is the bomb – i hope that i am doing something right with mine that he turns out like that as a young man.

  69. I was worried about you when I read that at the bottom of your blog yesterday, have been saying little prayers for your courage…well done Mama, as a girl who has struggled with eating disorders for the last 20 years, I know the power of keeping things in the dark and not being accountable/transparent. Do I have the courage to blog about my issue..not just yet, but maybe one day…especially if I am able to convey it as ellequently as you. Dee x

  70. You are so amazing. Thank you so much for sharing this story. I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to face an addiction of any sort, although every now and then I start pulling on my eyebrows. I just pull until there are no “loose” ones coming out anymore. I don’t do that a lot and I’ve never wound up with it making a noticeable difference, but I do that sometimes. Thanks for your openness and willingness to share something so deeply personal with us.

  71. Very Brave step out and wise too. Way to give a voice to something others may never understand (I battle dermatillomania – skin picking) and while I have conquered other skin oriented issues, I will add that one to my list one day as well.

    Thanks for fighting, and changing your world!
    ~Sara Gunter

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