Rhyl woman's campaign over hair-pulling disorder

Published date: 02 April 2014 |
Published by: Suzanne Jordan 
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A BRAVE woman has spoken out about a disorder which makes her pull out her own hair, in the hope of raising awareness.

Cheryl Mitchell, of Rhyl, has battled trichotillomania – a condition where a person feels compelled to pull their hair out – for 28 years. She feels that there is “no real understanding” of the condition and is calling for more support.

The 33-year-old first pulled out her hair when she was five-years-old. She recalls waking up with a bald patch and that her grandparents thought that she had cut her own hair.

She said: “I had pulled it out but I didn’t remember doing it. I was taken to see the doctor and he did some tests.

“I went to a psychologist three times. I was asked to keep a journal about when I felt the urge to pull my hair, but that was pointless. I had wigs off the NHS but they only cover up the problem, it is not a solution. I wear a bandana, but my hair isn’t getting any air to grow.”

Mrs Mitchell said she was 14 when she lost her father; she was put into care and later lost her brother.

She found happiness with her husband Graham, who she married three years ago. She said that Graham and her children, Claire, Adam, Sam, Alex and Holly, have been “incredibly supportive”.

Mrs Mitchell said: “People can say hurtful things. I have even been asked if I have cancer. It has affected my confidence.”

She is keen to have interlace system which involves threading what is left of her hair through a mesh and then attaching it to real hair wefts, but explained that cost has acted as a barrier.

She added: “It’s around £7,000. I can’t have it done on the NHS, but you think I would be able to because people have boob jobs, but they won’t help with a disorder like this? I do feel let down.

“I am hoping that speaking out about about trichotillomania may encourage others to come forward.

“Hair is very important to women. If I woke up tomorrow and had hair down to my bum - that is all I would want.”

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