A stranger noticed I have trich!

  • January 31, 2009 at 15:17 #128347

    I suffered a really upsetting situation recently and would like to share it with you.

    A couple of days ago, I went with my brother to a music gig and was standing on the front of the balcony waiting for the band to come on stage. Next to us was a small group of older people who started chatting with us, just to be friendly.

    I hadn’t really spoken to any of them much, when one of the ladies suddenly said to me, “Can I ask you a question – have you heard of trichotillomania?” I was so shocked that I didn’t know what to say, so she asked, “Do you pull your eyelashes out?” I still didn’t say anything, but I must have shaken my head or made some movement and I turned away from her, so she leaned round in front of me and asked, “So what happened then?” I must have zoned out a little at this stage as I don’t really recall much else that she said, although I remember she said something about how she used to do the same, but she came through it. In the end, she must have realised I didn’t want to talk about it, and she didn’t say anything else to me for the rest of the night.

    Luckily, my brother hadn’t heard what she said, but I was so embarrassed and upset at the fact that a total stranger had felt that she could approach me about something so sensitive. I’m sure that she probably felt she was helping, having been through it herself, but this should have made her even more aware of other sufferer’s feelings.

    I am currently having therapy with Neo and was 6 day’s pull-free at the time, but I was so upset after the above incident that I started pulling again. Still being at such an early stage in my therapy sessions, I haven’t yet learnt how to deal with these kind of situations, and whilst trying to help, this lady did, in fact, make me feel worse about myself and send me back to square one.

    I think that if someone does suffer from trich, they should seek help when they are ready, as I would not wish anyone else to go through an experience like I did. Unless you know the person really well, I would advise others not to approach someone if they recognise them to have trich.


    January 31, 2009 at 15:36 #128348

    Hi Sarah

    Thanks for posting that experience. It’s never happened to me but I do know how mortified I would have felt, no matter the good intentions of the person.

    There have been over the years a few people who have joined here after experiencing something similar to yourself and being told about the site. Once they were over the initial horror of being asked outright if the pulled hair, they were glad to find the site and it’s support network.

    There have been occasions when I myself have seen people out in the shops/street that may have trich and it’s crossed my mind whether to say something or not. I never have knowing how I would feel in that situation but I am often left wondering about my decision. By not saying anything I do wonder if that person is continuing to feel alone and unsupported, feeling strange and isolated with what trichsters do. They may not even have trich but alopecia. They may be undergoing chemo….. There are all sorts of reasons for thinning hair/brows/lashes besides having trich.

    It’s a very individual response to both having been questioned like that or deciding on whether to say something or not.

    I’m sorry it resulted in you pulling after reaching those days pullfree but something will be learnt from this unfortunate incident and you will become stronger for it. OK, it set you back but not necessarily at square one.

    Wishing you strength, positivity and many pullfree vibes your way
    Mandy x

    September 19, 2011 at 23:03 #144095

    Hi Sarah,

    Your experience sounds awful. I would have felt very anxious after that. I don’t know what I would do in that situation. It is a very personal thing and it is incredibly scary when you realise that it is noticeable. The amount of times I have been in a changing room and they have those mirrors where you can see your back – well they make me so unhappy because I can see the back of my head.

    Hope you are doing better and slightly more pull free than me,

    November 2, 2011 at 13:43 #144270


    I’m sorry to hear about your bad experiance, what a horrible insensitive thing for that woman to do. If she has trich herslf then she should’ve realised what she was doing.

    I think in this particular case, she shouldn’t have said anything in a public situaltion/environment and she certainly shouldn’t have pushed it when it was clear you didn’t want to talk about it. I think if I ever did decide that I was sure that someone had trich and needed help, and they weren’t a close friend; I would wait until the end of the gig/party etc and catch a quiet word along the lines of ‘I might be wrong and/or totally out of line, but it looks like you might be suffering with something I myself have struggled with, here is the details of somewhere that helped me and my number if you want to talk about it.’ and then leave so there was no awkwardness (hence doing it at the end). I’m not sure I’d actually have the guts to do it though!

    I’m torn in general about whether or not people should say anything to someone with trich. Firstly, as has been mentioned, they might be wrong. Secondly, even if they are not wrong, it’s a very sensitive subject. On the other hand, I wish I’d known about this site earlier and it makes me sad that there are people out there struggling who don’t know that they’re not alone, maybe that initial awkward experience might lead them here, to help and hope.

    It’s strange, I’d like to think now that if someone said to me ‘have you heard of trich’ I’d be able to say ‘yes, I have it, I’m working on it and I don’t really want to talk about it’ but if I could it would only be because I know now that I’m not alone and have nothing to be ashamed of.

    If the answer to that question is ‘yes’ it probably didn’t need asking, if the answer is ‘no’ then you’ve probably just made that person so embarrassed that someone noticed, and may have done more harm than good!

    Sorry for the essay, there’s my 2 pence worth!

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