Via Shakesville comes a story about trichotillomania and a possible cure:
A new study published this week in the Archives of General Psychiatry may hold promise for those who compulsively pull their hair. Researchers say participants who took an antioxidant called N-acetylcysteine, sold over the counter at vitamin stores, had significant improvement over patients who took placebos.
I like this article because it also non-judgementally addresses the shame of trichotillomania, or compulsive hair-pulling:
I've had trich for about seven years now. It's manageable, now; I don't touch the eyebrows I once tore out almost entirely. (Actually, I really like the thick Brooke Shields look of my eyebrows now).
Trichotillomania is such a stigmatizing disorder that people will go to great lengths to hide it -- to explain bald spots to acquaintances, some patients will lie and say they had cancer, Woods said.
"I have talked to patients who have pulled for 25 years, and their husbands don't even know it, they hide it so well," he said.
One issue I had with the article was its localization of hair-pulling to the eyebrows, head, eyelashes, and pubic hair. Trich is far from limited to those areas - in fact, I usually avoid those areas when I do pluck these days. I tend to go for the hair on my feet (particularly my toes) and my fingers, the dark coarse hairs around my nipples, and stray coarse hair on my chin and neck.
I go for hairs that stick out, that don't bend, that poke. Maybe it's because they're easy to find, visually and texturally. Maybe it has something to do with the way they subconsciously clash with my view of feminine women as possessed of only soft, and downy body hair. At some point, it was ingrained in me that only men have coarse or dark hair on their chest and chin, and perhaps I'm punishing myself for that.
As Liss at Shakesville mentioned in the comments of the article above, trich can be a good stress reliever when controlled. Usually, I only pluck to get rid of the coarse hairs that my fingers find over and over again on my chin, and occasionally when stressed I'll go after others. As long as I'm not digging (and thus creating sores) I don't worry too much about it.
But when it does get to the point where I'm obsessively looking for more, more "weird hairs", I know it's moved from stress relief to self-abuse. So I hide the tweezers. I know where they are, but stopping the automatic response of getting them out to pluck helps me to consider the compulsiveness of my actions and dampens the need.
Those of you that have trich: how do you manage it? Is yours typically localized?