I pull out big clumps of my hair and have done so since my teens

DEAR DEIDRE: I PULL out big clumps of my hair and have done so since my teens. I get a strong itch in my scalp and can’t resist the urge to pull at my hair. 

I now have obvious bald patches all over my head.


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I realise how awful it looks but can’t stop.

I’m a 23-year-old woman and still live at home with my mum and stepdad.

I managed to cover up the patches for the first ­few years but it’s too obvious now. My mum was really upset when she realised what I was doing and asked me to go to the doctor.

I have now been diagnosed with trichotillomania, but my stepdad – who has always been intolerant and judgmental of everything I do – says I’m weak. He says I make it up and could stop any time I wanted. He says I’m attention seeking.

DEIDRE SAYS: Those comments show a deep lack of understanding and compassion. 

Trichotillomania is a compulsive disorder where the sufferer pulls out their hair, usually to relieve anxiety. Your stepdad needs to know his insensitive comments could make your anxiety worse. You can get help via trichotillomania.co.uk, while ocdaction.org.uk can also advise. 

Can you talk to your mum and ask her to speak to your stepdad about how damaging his words are?

Encourage them to visit those websites too.

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