tearing my hair out

Dear Suzie, I have a really embarressing problem, that I’ve been struggling with for 6 years now. Whenever I’m concentrating or my mind is on other things I pull out my hair. I have looked it up on the internet and know its called trichotillomania, and have been to the doctors but so far no-ones come up with an explanation as to why I do it or how I can stop. I have a large bald patch on my head about 10cm x 5 cm with a few tufts growing through where I’ve left it alone long enough to grow back. I really need to stop doing it, I’m so ashamed, I can’t have people touching my head and I hate people looking at me. Please help!

You say you’ve been to your doctors, but was this only looked at as a medical problem? As you may have realised, it’s a recognised reaction usually to unresolved issues – stress or loss or grief or anger or guilt or…I could go on. As such, the best support and help would be some sort of talking therapy – counselling or psychotherapy.

Did your doctor not offer you a referral? If they did and you recoiled, feeling it was an insult or that you could manage on your own, please be reassured that it was the right suggestion, and no reflection on you or your abilities. Difficult issues do often need professional support to put to rest. Be further reassured that if you went into therapy, the process would always be in your control. You may be scared in case it ran away with you and that deeply buried issues you don’t want to consider could burst out and overwhelm you. Well, your unconscious mind is giving you a pretty clear ‘heads up!’ that it wants this brought out in the open; not talking doesn’t mean it will go away.

If your doctor hadn’t suggested therapy, go back and ask for it. uncovering why you do this will help you deal with the underlying issues so the reason can be dispatched, and while you are doing so you may be able to work out some coping strategies to limit the behaviour until the reason for it is gone. If your doctor won’t help, contact the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy who can suggest a counsellor in your area. You can ring them on 0870 443 5219 or write to BACP, BACP House, 35-37 Albert Street, Rugby, Warwickshire CV21 2SG or go to www.bacp.co.uk. Good luck!

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