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niece with trichotillomania... her moms response

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Gottagetthrough posted 12/30/2013 23:04 PM

My neice has trichotillomania. Namely, she pulls out her eyebrows. She has a very dark complexion (olive skin with black hair) so the lack of eyebrows is very noticeable.

At Christmas, she and her brother got into a fight. Brother (who is 7) yelled, "You don't have any eyebrows!"

The adults were in the kitchen, which is the room next to where the fight was. We all heard what he said, and I think everyone's jaws dropped.

One adult told my SIL (the girl's mom) "You need to tell Bobby he cant say that to Suzy"

My SIL said, "Well, if the teasing and names she is called really bothered her, then she would stop pulling out her eyebrows."

I'm just really sad for my neice. She is 13. Adolescence is tough without trichotillomania, and I' m sure its REALLY tough with trichotillomania. Add in a mother who says it must not really bother her, if it would she would stop...

purplejacket4 posted 12/30/2013 23:10 PM

She needs some counseling. This is her particular reaction to stress. The mothers comments Are. Not. Helpful.

jrc1963 posted 12/30/2013 23:24 PM

I wish I could reach through cyber space and slap your SIL...

No wonder the girl is stressed with a mother like that.

persevere posted 12/30/2013 23:57 PM

It sounds like you don't have a relationship with the mom that would allow you to voice your concerns? Poor kid....

Gottagetthrough posted 12/31/2013 07:42 AM

Niece has been in therapy on and off since she was 8(when the trichotillomania started ). Her dad works long hours but every once in a while he will throw out a tweet or ask on Facebook if anyone can help with his DD. (He'll tweet a new dr or a treatment program)

The mom and I are not close at all, and she wouldn't listen if I said something (and I don't know much about trichotitllomania except that it's an anxiety disorder.). The entire family has a long history of anxiety problems so you'd think sil would be more understanding, but perhaps she is projecting feeling about her anxiety disorder (maybe she feels like she should 'just stop' her panic attacks. Sil has had sever anxiety issues for almost 15 yrs now

steadfast1973 posted 12/31/2013 08:06 AM

I have trichotillomania. When I was a teen, I always had big patches of bald, no eyebrows or eyelashes. It's actually a disorder closer to OCD. I pulled whether i was nervous, tired, happy, didn't matter. If i am sitting in the grass i pull the grass out. I have caught myself pulling my cats fur out while watching television...

I don't pull my hair that much anymore... But i do braid and unbraid it, almost all day long.

Learning to crochet helped. Maybe get her a rainbow loom or a friendship bracelet kit. It would keep her hands busy.

My mom was the same way. She's tease me, slap my hands, embarrass me in front of friends.

[This message edited by steadfast1973 at 8:07 AM, December 31st (Tuesday)]

Gottagetthrough posted 12/31/2013 09:14 AM

Learning to crochet helped. Maybe get her a rainbow loom or a friendship bracelet kit. It would keep her hands busy.

this is a fantastic idea. Thank you.

and thank you for the information. I assumed she pulled because she was nervous.

And the pulling anything around is also what my niece does, my daughter had a bracelet with tons of beads glued onto it, and niece found the bracelet and pulled every bead off. (we found all the beads in the candy dish next to the bed niece was sleeping in, and niece was wearing the bead-less bracelet) DD was very upset, but I pulled her aside and asked her not to make a big deal about it.

My mom was the same way. She's tease me, slap my hands, embarrass me in front of friends.

(((steadfast))) I am so sorry

tushnurse posted 12/31/2013 09:31 AM

I agree with the other posts in relation to this, it is definitely a component of OCD, and if she is having a particularly hard time dealing with it, should be in treatment with someone to help her.
Including things like some of the newer SSRI's. I have a dear friend who has a daughter with bad OCD and she was particularly bad with the hair pulling stuff when she was a teen, now that she is a bit older she does better, but she is not just on meds, but in therapy as well. She too is a high energy person, and often found herself doing this mindlessly when she was reading, studying, or watching TV. She does keep her hands busy with quilting, sewing, and crocheting, and it does help.

The problem with kids with this is they are often not cognizant that they are even doing it, until suddenly one eyebrow is gone, or they have a significant bald patch.

Unfortunately it sounds like her household is not even close to supportive, and is counterproductive with it. I would mention to her (the niece not that crazed mom) that she should talk to the counselors at school about it. If she can get some help through the school it may be a lot less judgmental.

rachelc posted 12/31/2013 13:45 PM

My SIL said, "Well, if the teasing and names she is called really bothered her, then she would stop pulling out her eyebrows."

I'll just add this - the above comment is borderline abusive. Her daughter has a disease and she's allowing other people to bully her.

dreamlife posted 12/31/2013 14:47 PM

My GD is 8 and she is a "picker". (Scabs)

Maybe she pulled hair, too.....not sure.

It started when she was about 7. She will be 9 soon.

I agree about OCD but there is also an anxiety component in there, too.

2 things helped:
My dd told her last year that if she continued to do this, she would have to take her to the doc for a shot and it would be a large needle in her face!

GD is mortified about needles...esp. in her face.
She stopped picking!

She also got into playing Minecraft and does a lot of art work and writing.

She has stopped......so far.

hurtbs posted 12/31/2013 17:26 PM

I want to give your SIL the benefit of the doubt and say this was a one time reaction to stress and feeling overburdened by her daughter. Not excusing it.

I hope the niece in in counseling.

[This message edited by hurtbs at 5:28 PM, December 31st (Tuesday)]

cmego posted 12/31/2013 17:43 PM

My OCD dd is a picker. Especially her fingers, scabs, bug bites. Her fingers become infected. I have her medicated with two different kinds (one AD and one for ADHD), plus in IC. It is better. She is more aware of it and tries to stop. If I see her doing it, I just hold her hand, or put something else IN her hand to try and distract her. One of the things she likes the best are balloons filled with flour (you tube for directions) as a stress ball substitute.

Gottagetthrough posted 12/31/2013 19:30 PM

I think they have tried a lot of things with niece (counseling, Zoloft, got her a dog to pet so she wouldn't pull...)

I don't know if they are consistent though. I am not sure if my niece is still getting therapy, etc

I was just floored when SIL said that about her stopping if the name calling really bugged her. I think she is projecting some of her problems (and her wishes to just stop her own behavior) onto my niece.

SIL gained about 100 lbs in 18 mos. She's has severe anxiety problems for years, and I think her marriage is in trouble (from interactions with her hubby, it is. He even got a hotel room "because he had a lot of work to do" this holiday...)

Also, I heard my SIL curse at my niece a few times (G-D Suzy! Get in here!) stuff like that. SIL sleeps in until 11 in the morning. I think shes depressed and not handling life well and lashing out at her child.

I feel really, really bad for my niece.

[This message edited by Gottagetthrough at 7:31 PM, December 31st (Tuesday)]

frigidfire86 posted 1/1/2014 12:46 PM

I have dermotillomania (skin picking) and I HATE when people tell me to "just stop" like it's really that simple and I am just too stupid to have thought of it myself. If anything, it makes my picking worse (I do it more when I'm angry/frustrated/stressed). Meds help, but counseling is a must. I'm going on 20 years and haven't figured out how to quit yet.

SisterMilkshake posted 1/1/2014 13:04 PM

Wow, I want to pull your SIL's eyebrows out!

itainteasy posted 1/2/2014 14:31 PM

Ugh. I pick the skin around my cuticles..my thumbs especially. I will pick until they bleed, and then I pick at the scabs.

I'm very self conscious about my hands. Over the summer, I didn't do it at all...my hands healed, my nails grew I was very proud of my hands. And then my fiance and I moved in together, and suddenly I was picking again. Stress.

I'm sorry for your niece.

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