Anonymous, 28, Scotland

I need to count my hair so it won’t fall out

Anon12-no-textI hate it when people say, ‘I am so OCD’ just because they like a tidy house or things done a certain way. They don’t know how debilitating it can be and how much it can change your life.

My OCD developed 10 years ago. I was styling my long hair one morning when a friend asked, ‘What’s that? Has a patch of your hair fallen out?’ It had. I went straight to the doctor, he told me that three things would happen, it would grow back, stay the same or get bigger and all fall out and there was nothing he could do, it is just something that happens. He treated me like it wasn’t a big problem and I was wasting his time.

After which I looked for my own answers, I read that it is perfectly normal to loose 100 hairs a day, so I went about making sure that I didn’t lose any more. But I didn’t check enough and 10 months later I found another patch. This sent me spiralling into what I now know to be rituals.

I had to count all my hair that came out to make sure it didn’t exceed 100 and therefore I knew it wouldn’t all fall out. If it did permanently nobody would take me seriously, everyone would laugh at me and I would never be loved. I know this is vain but my hair is long and thick and everyone always comments on how lovely it is, it’s the only thing nice people would say.

I struggle with confidence so it felt like my hair was the only thing good about me, if I lost that I would have been nothing. I counted each strand after I ran a brush through it, I even stood on a white sheet to catch any that might have fallen from he brush, I caught all my hair before it went down the plug hole in the shower, I crawled around the floor looking for hairs after I had styled it. I developed rituals of how to shower, brush my hair, style it and how I slept. I then began to get distracted at uni as I sat and looked for hair on chairs, the floor and on my clothes. I would miss my stop on the bus as I was distracted by looking at people’s hair and comparing it to mine. I began to not go out and have panic attacks if I found hair that was more than the previous day. My mood was totally dependant on how my hair was.

This promoted my flatmate to encourage me to go back to the doctor. She was training to be a nurse and noticed my panic attacks. It was here that he told me this type of thing happens due to stress, and in fact I could pin point the patches to occur after a couple of traumatic events that I didn’t really deal with. I went to see a councillor and was diagnosed with OCD. That stopped the shame I was carrying about what I was doing and helped me to deal with stress, that way, if I reacted to it emotionally my body wouldn’t need a physical reaction and my hair wouldn’t fall out.

The patches that have come out have fully grown back in but my OCD never goes away and rituals will always be with me but I have learnt to manage it. You will never find a brush I own with hair in it or a clogged plug hole, I still have counts that I need to do, and the outcome of these can still effect my mood but it doesn’t take over my life. I won’t let it. I have accepted this is the way I am and I am ok with that. I hope others out there can understand that OCD comes in many forms and it’s not something to be taken lightly, and if you suffer from it I hope you are learning to manage it, I promise you can get better.

Categories: The Wall

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