Childhood is supposed to be a carefree and fun-filled time, but for kids who grow up without the love, support, and stability that they need, the stress and trauma can leave them scarred for life.
After a traumatic childhood, 1 London-native resorted to an extreme coping mechanism to deal with the deep emotional scars. However, it quickly became addicting and made her a target of bullying. Now, after more than a decade, the 26-year-old is finally standing up for herself with a drastic hairstyle…
A Foster Child
While most of her classmates went home to their loving, stable homes every day after school, 1 woman from London spent the majority of her childhood in and out of various foster homes. After a while, the instability started to take a toll on the young girl.
The Foster Homes
Some of the foster parents that took the young girl in genuinely tried to give her a loving and supportive environment to grow up in, but other foster homes that she was placed in were, unfortunately, no place for a child. Over time, the uncertainty and mistreatment left her traumatized…
A Stressful Period
By the time the London-native was a teenager, she had been placed in more than half a dozen foster homes. The instability from all the moves and the trauma she experienced in some of the homes quickly manifested as anxiety.
An Obvious Difference
When she was younger, the girl didn’t quite understand how different her life was compared to her classmates at school. But as a teenager, the differences were apparent and it only amplified her feelings of hopelessness and helplessness…
A Traumatic Upbringing
“I was in foster care and had been in about seven foster homes. I was treated pretty badly in one of them and ended up in a children’s home. It was a very stressful time for me,” Siobhan Hudson said about her less than ideal upbringing.
The Boiling Point
As time went by, the anxiety about her home life continued to grow until it reached an all-time high when she was just 16 years old, an age that is supposed to be fun and relatively carefree. When it finally reached a boiling point, the now 26-year-old found a way to cope…
Releasing Some Stress
“I started pulling when I was 16,” Siobhan said about when she started pulling her hair, which was her way of releasing some of the stress and anxiety that had built up over the years in the foster care system. “I was sat at my computer then I started pulling the hair, I liked the feeling.”
An Unhealthy Coping Mechanism
“I would pull one strand at a time around the crown area,” Siobhan explained. However, the then-16-year-old had no idea that her coping mechanism for stress would eventually cause her even more stress and anxiety over the next decade…
Chasing The Relief
“There was a feeling of release. It took all the stress away and the more I pulled the more it helped. It’s a physical and emotional feeling of relief,” said Siobhan. However, soon enough the teenager needed to pull out more and more of her hair to feel the same amount of stress relief.
Addicted To Pulling
“I started pulling the odd strand and then gradually I started pulling more until I was pulling about 50 to 70 hairs at a time. I was doing it every single day even at night time,” Siobhan said about her stress-relief technique, which was quickly becoming a compulsion…
The Bald Patches
“When I was unable to sleep I would just keep pulling until my arms got tired then eventually drop off to sleep,” Siobhan said. Soon, all the hair pulling left the teenager with bald spots on her head, which only made her feel more self-conscious and stressed.
A Vicious Cycle
Because she had no other way to deal with stress, the teenager was sucked into a vicious cycle of pulling even more hair. Soon, cruel bullies at school started to notice Siobhan’s thinning hair and relentlessly teased her about it…
A Target For Bullies
“I felt really bad because there are people who lose their hair because of cancer and I’m pulling mine out,” Siobhan said. “Other kids would point at the bald spot and ask what it was. It made me feel so depressed and I didn’t want to go to school.”
Siobhan tried to hide the bald spots by filling them in with eyeshadow, but the more hair she pulled, the less she could hide the growing bald patches. “But then the staff at the children’s home were amazing and took me out to buy a wig,” Siobhan said. “I felt really confident but part of me would be like ‘I’m walking in public with a wig. Can people tell…”
“I had really low self-esteem, my confidence hit rock bottom. The thought that people could tell I was wearing a wig would run through my head all the time. It stopped me going out,” said Siobhan, who later learned that she suffered from trichotillomania 2 years later.
Trichotillomania is a disorder that falls on the OCD spectrum and involves irresistible, recurring urges to pull body hair out. “I hadn’t heard of trichotillomania,” Siobhan said. “It was only when I was reading a magazine one day that I saw an article and thought that must be what I had. I then went to a doctor but I felt like they looked at me as if I was stupid…”
“They didn’t know what to suggest to me. I don’t think there was enough information out there about it, I haven’t been back since. I’ve not received any treatment or medication for it,” said Siobhan, who is now a mother to 2 little girls. “I still do it when I’m bored or if I’m feeling stressed or feel things are getting too much. I’m worried that if my kids Sasha-Jane, two, and Jaimeleigh, one, see me pull they will end up pulling themselves and I don’t want it to happen to them.”
Enough Is Enough
While Siobhan is trying to overcome trichotillomania with willpower, she is tired of hiding under a wig and feeling self-conscious. “It’s been an everyday part of my life – covering myself up and hiding away and not feeling normal,” said the 26-year-old, who decided to shave her head and give up her wigs. “It’s only recently that I decided to go out with a bald head. I had a moment where I thought ‘I can’t keep going out like this…’”
Bald And Beautiful
“When I first went out bald I came across a few small-minded people who stared and whispered but I thought to myself ‘rise above it’ and I didn’t let it get to me. I told myself ‘they don’t know what you’re going through’. It was about saying ‘this is me’ and who I am,” Siobhan said. “I felt empowered and I’d never felt so confident in all my life. I think it was because I was willing to accept what I’ve got and that nobody is perfect.”
“I think I’ve turned a corner now and going out without my wig and not caring about it is the bravest thing I’ve done,” she added. Now, Siobhan is sharing her story to spread awareness about trichotillomania in the hopes of helping another sufferer. “There’s a lack of understanding. People will tell you to just stop pulling but they don’t understand it’s a compulsion and it’s not that simple. People think you can control it or that it’s a habit. I tell them it’s something I do that I can’t control… I would say to others going through this to not be scared. Tell someone what you’re going through and be confident – you can get through it.”