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Submitted on
January 17, 2010
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(Contains: ideologically sensitive material)

It's always the same sensation. One hand moves up, the fingertips trace over hairs and bits of skin, and then, when a specifically nervy spot is remembered, the fingers grip the hairs in a pincer-like motion. The hand lifts away from the scalp, the hairs are released from their fleshy bindings and oil spills out onto the surrounding skin. The nerves pop and sizzle, my brain sending Morse Code but in the wrong sequence; this is supposed to be painful, but I feel pleasure instead. My skin burns as I inspect the roots. At times the hairs hold nothing at all, and the sensation is all I have. Good pulls are rare nowadays; instead I find either suitable roots, thick and white and crunchy beneath matching-color teeth, or suitable sensation, the kind that stings long after the hairs are gone.

A couple days ago I capitulated and bought a tweezer. I spent thirty minutes in the bathroom, sitting on the toilet and ripping out pubic hair. I received all types of roots in return: those with just half the shaft of root, the ever-elusive bloody roots, bulbs like the bottoms of tulips, and ones that lacked roots completely. Then, going against my own rules, I got up, cleaned off the blood from my failed attempts (grabbing skin instead of hair), and used the tweezer on my eyebrows. One of the conditions of even buying the damned tool was to not touch my scalp or face, but I did so anyway. I removed the hairs beneath the shape of my eyebrows and ripped hairs right at the skin from my scalp. Annoyed by my insufficient findings, I returned to my pubic area. It was then, in frustration, that I just let the tweezer fall into the toilet.

Does the sensation change? Do the roots evolve? Does my aim get better, do I find spots with more nerves, do I find roots that satisfy the urge, do I create sensations that satiate me? Ever since I was nine years old I've pulled out my hair, and for all this time I've searched for that same high, that same eclipsing burning, those same roots that shined with healthiness. I've eroded the skin on my scalp to the point where I can pick off flakes by just barely dragging my fingernail along the surface. I've destroyed the nerves so that even the most plentiful of spots provide nothing but a sharp sensation that lasts barely a second. I am running in place. As I argue with my irrational side, she grasps at straws trying to support her argument. She's losing, and yet I keep losing hair.

I take a step back and look at my disorder logically. Trichotillomania fits into the OCD spectrum and thus it can develop into a habit. Pulling out my hair has become part of my daily routine. Picking open scabs and bleeding, biting the ends off of hairs and discarding them, attacking myself with metal objects just to unearth hairs right beneath the skin is all common place. A few days before I bought the tweezer, I used an old safety pin to dig out a couple ingrown hairs. I did not stop bleeding for about five minutes; I kept dabbing at the wounds with toilet paper until I had to grab another piece. As I reread old entries and poems and other works about my disorder, I see violent imagery and words. Rip. Pull. Shred. Erode. Decimate. Dig. Pick. Destroy. Destroy destroy destroy. This is a self-destructive disorder but I can't help myself, or at least I tell myself so.

It's always the same sensation. It's always the same damage. It's always the same roots and the same self-loathing. It's always the same perfectionism, the same search, the same rescue, the same inability to look a person in the eye lest she sees my missing eyelashes. It's always the same questions, the same stares, the same shame, all of it has not changed since I was a child. Only now, in the past year, have I actually attempted to tackle this disorder and rip it from my system. Even now, just now, describing it, I implement violence. It is a violent, violent thing; I look back and see how easily it escalated. First, just the sensation and sometimes the flakes of skin were all I wanted. Then, the roots fascinated me. This morphed into a need for roots and sensation, and a need for blood. I dug at scabs with my nails and stared at the remains of my skin without any emotion. I can still remember the sound of going at a scab on the side of my head. I cannot describe it in words, but somehow the sound reverberates in my mind and I feel ill. Have you ever dug at skin that was already raw and bleeding? Have you analyzed the evidence beneath your fingernails, coating your fingertips, sometimes getting on your wrists or even your clothing? Have you bled on a science test? Have you had to hide chunks of hair from your parents, from yourself, even though the damage is evident?

Yes, the needs and urges transformed over time, but so did I. I went from a pre-pubescent child to a near-adult. I made it through adolescence somehow. I went through depression and panic attacks and came out somewhat normal. Yet this disorder haunts me. I see bits of hair on the floor, in my laundry, in my washing machine, in the trash. My brown-black hair stands out against beige carpeting. I can't hide from it anymore, and I can't deny that what I feel, what I get from trichotillomania is, at its core, the same thing it has been for nearly eleven years.

I recognized, after ridding myself of the tweezer, that this sweet sensation is not worth my time. I still pull, though. I still find myself rubbing at my eyelids, taking out eyelashes, and running my fingers along those same trails on my scalp, looking for that feeling. I am like a junkie chasing desperately for the first few highs, but like that junkie, I have damaged myself to the point that nothing satisfies. Even drawing blood with sharp objects in the depths of night barely even registers. So a pact must be made, one written in all that wasted, now-dry blood and bound together with the ninety thousand hairs I've estimated I've removed. It's easy, it's two words, but they must resonate in my mind and they must electrify my senses. They must keep my hands at bay and they must regulate my chemicals. Two words, no more. Write them everywhere, find them in signs. Look for them like the mentally ill search for meaningless or meaningful numbers.

No more. We'll see how this goes.
This was not at all close to the eloquence I was hoping for, but I wanted to get this out of my system. I read it over and I apologize for it not being up to par (at least in my standards). I wanted this to be more beautifully written, so I will probably go back and edit this later. For now, I just want it out. This is a rather personal piece, so please tread lightly.

Update 3/4/13: I checked dA after a few weeks and I thought I had let my friends' deviations pile up, but I was pleasantly shocked to find all these messages. I want to thank NicSwaner for suggesting this work as a DD. All of your comments are fantastic and I'm really glad that many of you were able to relate. I can't thank you enough! As for my trich now, since this is an older piece, I am doing much better. I've almost overcome this. It's very much under control. C:
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Daily Deviation

Given 2013-03-01
Sensation is a well-told personal account of dealing with trichotillomania (the compulsion to remove hair from one's body) and its damaging effects by ~Curious-Spider Please respect the writer and subject matter. ( Featured by Nichrysalis )
paigeity Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2013
very powerful
Dangerous-Nargle Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I have trichotillomania and dermatillomania. Feel for you. Cognitive-behavioral therapy was a big help for me. I still pull or pick to some extent, but a lot of the shameful feelings associated it with it have gone away, and I do so now far less than I used to (probably 70-80% reduction). If there is anyone in your area who focuses on this (I was lucky, there is an OCD Center in Los Angeles that has therapists specially trained in trich) and you have the means I would really recommend it. Even when I do slip up now there's no longer that feeling of "something is wrong with me" or "I'm a bad person" or "I am the only person who is this disgusting," and having that be gone is so freeing. It's also helped me find other things to do with my hands. I have proper fingernails for the first time instead of raw nubbins with bleeding infected cuticles, and the scalp scabs have finally healed, and I no longer have people asking what happened to my eyebrows or my hair. Hoping that you are able to find a way to a similar space. Thank you for sharing.
cursedninetailfox Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2013
SylveraDrake Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
A stinging piece all too close to home. I suffer from trich as well - mostly eyelashes, but it spreads to other places. It's been years since it started, back when I was also a child. I know that fear of people noticing, and the high that comes from succumbing to the urge. I wish I had the strength you have to simply being to say "no".
CurlzareSpazy Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2013  Student Writer
I really appreciate you writing this down for all of us to see. I deal with different forms of OCD too, and it really means a lot to read someone else's words of struggle. You wrote what you felt, and in reading it, I feel like someone knows what I feel. So thank you for your experience and your beautiful words.
ILoveMyGhostGirls Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I can see why this is one of the only lit DDs since... ever.
Nichrysalis Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
You can compliment people without putting down everyone else's work within a medium. :| There are two lit DD's every day for you to check out here:
ILoveMyGhostGirls Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
No, I'm just saying that lits don't really get that much attention.
Did I put people down?
Ugh, now I feel bad... thanks for the link, though.
NotDamien Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2013
Beautifully written !! I'm amazed !
COLOR-my-WORLD21 Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
very moving! I wish you the best!
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