I’m not the only one with this neurotic disorder. I know because I went online to see if there was even a name for it. And there it was. Trichotemnomania, a disorder characterized by compulsive hair cutting or shaving. It is often triggered by intrusive ideas or stressful experiences.
It’s scary having a disorder I can’t even pronounce but at the same time, I’m relieved knowing that I’m not crazy all by myself.
And for me It goes way back; as far back as the time that I made all my Barbie dolls look like Ken and our neighbor’s ten-year-old look like a skinned cat after cutting his hair with the electric clippers. I watched mom cut my brothers’ and daddy’s hair so much that I was sure I knew how. I did okay till I removed the attachment to get it just a little shorter. I should have stopped while I was ahead. But his dad liked it, so it was all good.
Then I began bugging mom to cut my long, red hair; an absolute no-no according to my grandmother who only had her hair cut once in her entire seventy-something years.
Finally, to shut me up, mom got out her big silver shears and cut it. I felt like the weight of the world was lifted off my scrawny shoulders.
From there it escalated from mom cutting my hair to me cutting my hair. After all, I had plenty of experience.
When I was a teen I wanted everyone’s hair but my own. Every Sunday at church I sat behind Freda, drooling over her short, dark wavy hair neatly combed back into a drake’s tail. She was beautiful, like a China doll, with big brown eyes, thick dark lashes and porcelain complexion.
And I’d sit there thinking if my hair looked like hers, I would be transformed from an awkward, ugly duckling to a beautiful, graceful swan. My freckles would disappear, my straight, unruly red hair would become dark and wavy, and I would finally like the gawky kid looking back at me in the mirror.
Thus began my full-blown hair obsession. I’d cut it, color it, curl it, tease it, and spray it. Some mornings I’d spend hours doing and redoing my hair till it was perfect. Other days I’d get so angry and frustrated that I’d throw my hairbrush across the room and cry. And yes, most mornings I was late for work in spite of getting up at four in the morning to be at work by seven.
I bought wigs to cover the shame of cutting my hair too short. But, even my wigs weren’t safe with a pair of scissors in my hand.
Beauty School taught me the do’s and don’ts of cutting hair, but I taught myself how to use the electric clippers.
That’s when I really got crazy. There’s just something about the sound and smell and feel of the clippers in my hand, especially when I’m feeling stressed and anxious. A coworker once told me that she knew how stressed I was by the length of my hair. So when I’d come to work wearing a ball cap, she was tempted to call the Mental Health Hot Line.
One time my husband hid my clippers, but I hunted till I found them.
I could go on and on telling you how I’d stay up all night cutting my hair, but that would really make me look stupid. And I could tell you that I like wearing my hair short, and laugh when strangers ask me if I have cancer and little kids asking me if I’m a girl, but I’m afraid you’ll think I belong in the loony bin.
But I can tell you that I’m okay with cutting and wearing my hair short and that when I screw it up I slap on a ball cap till it grows out and I begin the madness again. And I don’t mind telling you that my family laughs at me, and that’s okay because I laugh harder at myself.
So yes, I admit to having OCD. But, believe it or not, I’m dealing with it. I take medication, which sometimes isn’t enough and I feel like getting good and drunk. But I did that once and got so sick I swore I’d NEVER do it again! Besides, I can’t stand the stuff.
OCD is painful. It messes with my mind, heart and soul. It cripples and enslaves and makes me feel like I belong in a freak show. I’m restless, my mind races, my insides feel like a bomb exploding and I wonder why I was even born. I question if God really loves me, I’m so messed up. Some days I can’t stop crying, other days I’m so depressed I think I’d be better off dead.
I pray and read my Bible. I talk to family and friends and realize that they love me in spite of my insanity. Most of all, I continue working on myself. Medication alone can’t fix everything that’s wrong; I wish it did. And although God doesn’t remove the thorn in my side, He gives me the strength to bear it. Sometimes, like the one set of footprints in the sand, He carries me till I can walk on my own.
I couldn’t make it without God and family and friends. They’ve been there, helping me pick up the pieces of my life, loving me, encouraging me, and seeing me through the darkest shadows of despair. I’m thankful and blessed that God loves me so much that He never leaves my side.
So does that mean I’m throwing away my clippers? Are you crazy?