Trichotillomania Cure Tip: Social Stigma

Harris Harrington explains how to overcome social anxiety related to trichotillomania.

worried womanDon’t Hide

One of the worst things you could do is go to great lengths to hide your hair pulling disorder from people, especially those close to you.

You are probably afraid of judgment, of being viewed as a crazy person, perhaps weak or inferior. These feelings are completely normal, but you should make efforts to act against them.

One of the big problems with giving in to feelings of social stigma related to trich, is that you are going to limit your behaviors. If going swimming exposes your hair, you might say “somewhat might see my bald spot, my covers might come off. What would they think of me then?”

The truth is, some people are going to judge you. But I urge you to live your life. If you give in to worries and fears about what others think, you will likely live a greatly restricted, and unsatisfying life. In addition, your anxiety will increase as you become even more fearful of being “found out”.

It’s important that you give up the “double life” of the usual TTM sufferer: pulling in private, and hiding it in public.

Even if you completely stopped pulling today, it’s going to take months for a large bald spot to grow back. In that time you need to keep living your life and expose yourself to your fears.

Do not hide.

You might fear losing a friend if they found out, or fear being ridiculed. If a friend were to dislike you because of TTM, then that person is probably not worth being your friend. That may sound like a harsh conclusion to come to, but its absolutely true.

Tell a confidant

An important first step is to tell someone close to you that you pull out your hair compulsively. Some may judge you, but others will offer emotional support. In any case, TTM is not a sign of being mentally defective. If anything, it means you are in a select group of talented and intelligent people.

In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, the term used to describe facing your fears is called exposure.

Exposure is important because as you face your fears, which takes courage, you will notice that the fears decrease. This process is called desensitization and habituation. When you expose yourself to frightening stimuli, you become habituated to them. They lose their sting.

Another reason why facing social stigma fears related to TTM is important, is because you will build up a strong sense of self so that you can face other fears in your life. If you plan on accomplishing any major goal or pursuing anything worthwhile in life, then you are going to have to endure criticism and judgmentality.

I personally have people write hateful comments to me everyday on the internet. Does it matter? No! Is that going to stop me from helping people and pursuing what I value in life? No way.

So I want you to ask yourself. What situations do you tend to hide your hair? What activities are you not doing because of trich? Would it be worth it to you to face your fear and pursue the things that you most value in life? If someone judges you because of TTM, does that person really matter to you anyway?

The stigma related to TTM may also tie into social anxiety that you have. It’s extremely important that you not rationalize these fears and increase your avoidance. Be as honest with yourself as you can, and face your irrational fears related to TTM.