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I've struggled with trichotillomania for as long as I can remember and
unfortunately, it has become a part of my life. It wasn't until I
graduated college that I realized trichotillomania existed - I always
thought I had a bad habit. My journey has been challenging with more
lows than highs. My hair-pulling has been consistent overall and is
highly dependent on how I feel. I mostly pull when I'm stressed or
anxious and pull significantly less when I'm relaxed and happy. There
are many people struggling with trichotillomania and many might not even
know they have it. The Lyder Foundation will not only help those with
the same struggles as me but also be a beacon to the communities of
color that may not have the tools and resources to navigate this mental
health disorder.

My earliest memories of dealing with trichotillomania are lying in bed at night, pulling at my eyelashes and eyebrows, when I was 4 or 5 or 6 years old.  In the morning I'd glance in the mirror and notice bare spots in my eyebrows and along my eyelashes. My parents noticed, too, and wondered why I was pulling out the hair, but none of us realized the underlying problem.  By the time I was 7, in 2nd grade, my hair pulling had progressed to pulling hair out of my head, absentmindedly, as I sat in class.  I was barely aware of what I was doing.

Trich became an unwelcome and misunderstood constant in my life that I tried to ignore.  I tried many, many times to resist the urge to pull, but every resolution ended unsuccessfully.  Whenever I was bored, agitated, or procrastinating I started pulling my hair.  By the time I was in high school, I had to comb my hair with an unnatural side part to cover the large bald spot on top of my head.  I tried my best to disguise the problem and never spoke of it to anyone.  Going to the hairdresser simply required a white lie about my missing hair.

I married in my early 20s, had three sons, and had a successful career in fundraising and public relations, and yet I could never conquer that urge to pull my hair.  Why?  I had no idea and thought I was the only person on the planet with this problem.  I simply lived with it but never allowed it to define me or undermine my sense of self-confidence.

In the 90s, once the internet became a research option, I casually researched hair pulling and discovered that my behavior had a name and was shared by millions of people around the world.  I was shocked!  I discovered a group of people online whom all had trich and we shared stories of daily challenges, successes, and failures.  I even sought treatment from one of the few recognized trich specialists who recommended a combination of over-the-counter supplements and rather extreme behavior modifications, but it didn't work.  I simply resigned myself to living with trich and with permanent hair loss.

In 2013, after attending a meeting of the NYC chapter of the Trichotillomania Learning Center, I learned about Bianca Lyder and New Horizons Hair by Bianca. I made an appointment to meet with Bianca to see what magic she could conjure to deal with my now permanent hair loss, caused by decades of hair pulling. I had tried wearing a wig but never felt comfortable with it on and ripped it off as soon as I got home or in my car.  Wigs were definitely not an answer for me.

Bianca described a system of adding hair through weaves and extensions which would require regular maintenance but would look and feel more natural and could be styled in different ways.  This wasn't a system I had to put on or take off every day, which appealed to me.  I agreed to give it a try and was more than happy with what I saw in the mirror every morning.  Over the past 10 years, I've continued to visit Bianca for routine maintenance, including coloring and cuts.

During that time Bianca and I have become friends, even though we come from very different backgrounds.  During CoViD, she agreed to come to my house to maintain the weave and extensions.  When I suffered a stroke last year and had to have everything removed for diagnostic testing she came to the ER as soon as I called her and stayed with me throughout the day. I trust her judgment, both as a hairdresser and a friend.

If you, too, suffer from trich or another cause of permanent hair loss I highly recommend a consult with Bianca.  She is nothing short of a miracle worker when it comes to hair!   I hope that the Lyder Foundation will be a beacon of hope for anyone dealing with trichotillomania. 

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