I've been there far too many times; pulling out all of my eyelashes in a splurge and then promising myself I won't do it again, setting an upcoming special occasion as a target to have all of my eyelashes back for. And more times than not, I let myself down again. We all set goals in life; whether it's career goals or more personal ones, having something set in our minds to work towards drives us forward and supposedly motivates us in achieving whatever it is that we want to achieve. With trichotillomania, this would work in theory. But after over a decade of continually setting myself targets only for me to 'fail myself', I have to ask, is it worth it? Should we keep setting these goals for ourselves, or is it only adding to the pressure and making the situation worse?
A huge issue with trichotillomania is the sense of failure when you end up pulling hairs out. We try our hardest to resist the urges, but when we happen to give in the the overwhelming desire to pull out our own hair, we beat ourselves up over it time and time again. Although many do stop pulling, I have left it as a distant dream and pretty much acknowledged that I will probably do this to myself for the rest of my life. A sad thought, maybe, but being open and accepting it as part of myself (as I have written about before), has massively eased the emotional pressure of trichotillomania. Despite not having an actual effect on how much I pull, I beat myself up about it less than I did before. However, I do find myself setting little targets for growing my eyelashes and eyebrows; for some, it works and helps to motivate, but for me, I just end up questioning whether I am adding pressure that I thought I had relieved myself of.
For example, I have set myself the target of having all of my eyelashes for Christmas. One eye has a set of very short lashes waiting to grow, whilst the other eye has a few but they are definitely growing at a slightly slower, gappier rate. Feeling the gaps around the more bald eyelid makes me really want to pull the eyelashes around it, but I think, 'no, you set youself that goal of having all of your eyelashes for Christmas, stick to it and leave them alone'. To an extent (apart from the odd one or two here and there), it has worked so far. And I am over the moon about this! I finally am facing the prospect of having eyelashes and that makes me so, so happy. Having this date-target has greatly boosted me and helped me to stay focused- it gives you an end-goal which you can continue to extend and see how long you can go without pulling lots of hairs out. A personal best, so to speak.
If it has worked for me so far, then why am I questioning it as a pull-free tactic? The thing is, I know I will pull again at some point. I know I will rip all of those eyelashes from my eyes in a fit of anxiety one day in the (probably) near future. I know it will fill me with self-hatred, disappointment, anger, despair and I will feel as though I have hugely let myself down. If I am going to pull my hairs out anyway (let's face the realities of the disorder here), why set myself up for this failure? Is it worth these awful emotions just to enjoy the incredible feeling of having eyelashes for a couple of months? This is what I question. It's a great motivator, but the nature of the illness means you are likely to pull again, so is there any point setting goals in the first place?
Not having the emotional impact of trich so much is, in my opinion, the key to 'overcoming' the disorder. These negative emotions, for me, have always been the most difficult part of dealing with the disorder, far more so than the physical hair loss itself. So setting targets and putting extra pressure on myself is just bringing these all into the forefront again- am I making trich difficult to deal with by setting myself goals? I don't know. Despite this, I will continue to set myself targets because I feel as though if I don't, I am almost giving in to trich. I still want to put up a fight.
Do you set yourself trichotillomania targets? Do you find that they work for you, or is the disappointment when you pull again not worth it?