Friday, May 1, 2020

It is not pleasure, it is pain

When you want to pull out your hair, when you are feeling that itch, the urge, just think about it. Think about it rationally. How would you feel if you were made to pull out someone else’s hair? Would you like it? Would you feel pleasure in that? Imagine someone close to you. Your loved one – partner, spouse, parent, child – anyone who is close to you. Can you pull out their hair to feel better? You cannot. Because you don’t feel the sensation. So, it is not the hair that is your focus. Although you do love your favorite type of hair, don’t you? For me, it was short white hair. That was my type!! I would even get excited at the thought of pulling out a thick white hair out of my scalp. I just thought about it, but today I am not getting that feeling that I used to get.

Last night something changed, maybe just a little bit, but it did. It at least gave me perspective. When I was lying on my bed thinking about how I could stop this, why did I feel this urge to pull out my hair, I suddenly got a thought – it is not pleasure, it is pain. That is the reason, you cannot pull out someone else’s hair. Because you know it will be painful for them. Also, you won’t feel that pleasure that you feel when you pull out your hair. That’s precisely the problem then, I guess. I feel pleasure in something that I should feel pain in.

Come to think about it – it starts with spending hours to find out the perfect hair that fits your preferred type. I spend hours running my fingers through my hair to find out anything that is short and thick. I guess that is the one which will cause the maximum pain – or for me, maximum pleasure. I know all this sounds weird. But that’s how my brain has been wired now. It is not weird, it is wired! Anyways, I apologize for the stupid jokes in each paragraph (I can’t help it!). So, coming back to the topic, I spend hours searching for that specific type of hair. Once I feel like I have something that I can pull out, I analyze it using my fingers. I feel the way it feels on my scalp. Sitting there, short and thick and probably white.

If I did not have trichotillomania and if I had to ever pull out my hair, I would feel pain. Normal people feel pain when they pull out their hair, that’s why they don’t! Even I cannot pull out a bunch of hair at once. That would be enormously painful. When I pull out my hair, the actual feeling should be pain. But, my brain, due to some reason, has replaced the feeling with pleasure. If I think about it rationally, if I try pulling out my hair, especially the short thick one, I should feel immense pain. I should feel the pain of the follicle being pulled out from below the scalp skin. Since the hair is thicker, maybe there is a tiny hole or dip that gets created. It should pain like hell.

So last night, I deliberately started imagining this pain that I should be feeling and could not help but cry. I cried my heart out. Because I kept running this scene over and over in my head. The scene where my short white thick hair is getting pulled out. I imagined feeling immense pain as the thick cuticle is pulled out from beneath the skin. I imagined the point on my scalp from where I pull out this hair to be extremely sore. It was a feeling that disgusted me. It made me want to puke.

It is not just the hair pulling. I even pick the skin on my scalp. On a perfectly normal scalp area, I start digging with my nails. I keep striking and striking until there is a small portion of skin, tiny one that come out. There was a time when the skin would have tiny amount of blood too (due to the scratching). But now, I have stopped doing that. I rather just pull out some skin. I keep picking my scalp skin. The skin that comes out is in rolls. It was not supposed to be picked out. It was normally sitting there on my scalp perfectly healthy. I also imagined last night scratching the hell out of my scalp skin and analyzing it. Again, the normal brain would feel so much pain on the part of the scalp from where the skin was picked. It should be very sore. I need to imagine the pain right now. I start imagining the normal condition. The skin that I pick is disgusting to look at. It is my scalp skin. It should be on my scalp. But it is on my fingers and I am feeling it. I should feel disgust that I picked my scalp skin and the spot from where I picked it feels so sore.

The pain is the normal reaction that would happen if my brain did not mislead me with wrong information. Instead of keeping "hair pulling" and "skin picking" in the "PAIN" box in my brain, my brain decided it should go into "PLEASURE" box. Maybe, it felt that the PLEASURE box wasn’t filled enough. So, my brain thought why not put some things from the PAIN box into the PLEASURE box – after all, the source was my own body. I could control it, I could do whatever I wanted to and then feel the pleasure whenever and wherever I wanted to. My silly brain thought it could fool me into thinking that the pleasure was real.

Last night was a revelation. I have not pulled out a single hair since then. In fact I don’t even feel like running my fingers through my hair. All I did was see the real picture – I had been fooled all this time. I still feel a bit sore, but it is not an itch or urge to pull. I think it is the soreness of the four hour long session of skin picking that had happened the day before.

Today is the first day, after I suppose fifteen years or so, when I don’t feel any affinity towards the thick short white hair. I don’t know about tomorrow. I don’t know if this will continue or not. I don’t know if my brain will again be able to mislead me with the pretend pleasure. I want to find real pleasures and put them in the PLEASURE box. Hair pulling and skin picking – like it does for all normal people – will go into the PAIN box. Maybe, initially, I will have to do this deliberately. Until my brain finds peace with it. It is not pleasure, after all, it is pain.