Most hair pullers have day-to-day strategies for hiding their habit and the damage it's caused. But every so often, there's a situation that calls for either confessions, fibs, or extreme evasive action!
How do you cope with these tricky moments?
1. Seeing a new hairdresser
If you've been going to the same hairdresser for years, you've probably already gone suffered through the whole "Yikes, what happened to your hair?" conversation. But a first appointment at a new salon, knowing full well that you'll be asked to explain your bald spots, can be nerve-wracking enough that the shaggy dog look starts to seem like a viable fashion choice.
Should you make up a story about a crazed toddler with scissors? I've found that many hairdressers have at least a bit of familiarity with trich. My own hairdresser speculates that 10% of her patients pull their hair out! But if you're not getting a warm or understanding vibe from your stylist, I'd suggest saying "it's a medical condition" and changing the subject. That's technically true, and you don't owe any details.
2. A beach or pool party
Wet, plastered-down hair can reveal your damage. This is a hard situation to deal with, but it would be a shame to miss out. Ideally, you'd take a deep breath and go have fun (other people don't scrutinize our looks the way we do our own). Your friends will be focused on themselves, probably even feeling self-conscious in their swimsuits.
For some extra security, try bringing a hair towel to the beach or pool and using it to wrap your head in a turban when you get out of the water. Or, if you enjoy quirky fashion, you could even invest in a cute bathing cap for a retro swim look (there are some fun ones on Etsy)!
3. Telling a new partner
Your significant other will likely notice something's up eventually. With my boyfriends, I've tended to open up about my trich a few months down the line–and guess what? It's made zero difference to their feelings for me. In fact, seeing how your partner responds to your vulnerability can be a good litmus test for the relationship.
If you live with your partner, putting them in the loop also gives you new support in managing the habit. You'll have to have boundaries (they shouldn't be be nagging or shaming you) but try asking them to check in with you now and then, or call you out when they see you pulling.
4. Going out without showering
I use sprays or mousse and blow-dry my hair upside-down in order to get volume. If I can't do those things in the morning, I struggle all day with feeling ratty.
There are obvious strategies for dealing with this, like putting on a headband or hat. But deep down, I suspect that my hair styling ritual probably doesn't make as big a difference to how I look as I let myself believe. It's more of a psychological thing: it lets me feel like I'm taking back some control. I know I need to focus on feeling worthy regardless of whether my last shower was 4 or 24 hours ago.
5. Telling your doctor or therapist all the gory details
Congratulations–you've made an appointment and are taking meaningful steps. But are you prepared to talk in detail about exactly what you do, how often you do it, and even the parts of your body you pull from?
Your doctor or therapist will likely ask you specific questions about your pulling. They need the full picture in order to help you. But even more importantly, this is your chance to be honest with yourself. Admitting out loud just how bad things have gotten might feel painful, but it should also empower you. This is now a problem you have called out and named. It's distinct from who you are as a person. And you're about to turn it into a project.