I have a certain reaction to stress, anxiety and difficult emotions, and because I’ve never spoken about it before I have absolutely no idea if it’s common or weird. I don’t quite know when I first noticed that I do it, but I do know that I have been doing it since I was a small child.
I literally pull my own hair out.
The reason I’m bringing it up now (for the first time ever) is because I stopped doing it for a few months, but I’ve started again within the last week. I have no idea why or when exactly I stopped, or when or why exactly I started again, but I have.
I will sit there, and play with my hair, choosing one that I’m some way feels different from the others, and single it out. Then I’ll just pull it out of my head. For no real reason. It calms me, and I don’t know why. I’ve sat there and plucked loads of individual hairs out before noticing what I’m doing and either forcing myself to stop, or realising that I physically can’t stop myself.
I’ve only even noticed that I had stopped doing it when I realised I was doing it again. It creates tender patches on my scalp, and once they are there I tend to gravitate towards them and pull more hairs out from those spots.
I’d love to know why I do this. Honestly, I’d love to know why I even began doing this in the first place and exactly how old I was. Thankfully I have thick hair, so it hasn’t made any visible difference, but it would probably be interesting to work out why I do it.
I only worked out it was mood related whilst I was homeless, when the amount of hair I was pulling out of my head got so ridiculous the majority of my scalp was tender at all times and my bin at the hostel would be half full of hair. However, I don’t use it the same way I ever have done cutting or scalding water. Both of those are mostly conscious decisions -although emotionally driven- whereas I have never even thought about pulling my hair out, it’s just something I find myself doing. When I cut (which I am currently 6 months clean of), it’s either because something is distressing me so much I need an immediate release, or because I am so emotionally numb at that point that I need to feel something, even if that something is physical pain. When I take scalding baths or showers, it’s because something long term has been on my mind or stopping me from functioning and I need an extended cleansing pain to jump-start my feelings or life again. Hair pulling though, I do whenever there’s a small life difficulty, a large, extended life changing event, an upsetting episode of a TV show I’m watching – literally anything that makes me even slightly upset. It calms me whilst I’m doing it, but only whilst I’m doing it, unlike the other strategies which helps my mood for a period of time after the fact.
There’s no big point to this really, it’s just a thing I find curious about myself. Fingers crossed I figure it out before my hair gives up and stops growing back!