WELLNESS
07/06/2015 07:00 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

14 Things People With Body-Focused Disorders Want You To Know

Body-focused repetitive disorders such as dermatillomania, or skin picking, and trichotillomania, or compulsive hair plucking, are more common than you think -- and very misunderstood.

"Anorexia is between 1 and 3 percent of the population, and trichotillomania is between 2 and 5 percent of the population," Jillian Corsie, director of the new documentary Trichster, above, told The Huffington Post. "If you think about those numbers, there’s almost twice as many people who have this disorder that nobody knows about."

bodyfocused behavior
lofilolo via Getty Images

"Trichster" profiles seven young people struggling with trichotillomania. It was Corsie's first film, and initially she found it difficult to gain her subjects' trust. "There’s been a lot of really negative stories in the media," she explained. "Specifically in film, like with TLC’s 'My Strange Addiction.'"

While a few people are open about the disorder, like Rebecca Brown, a YouTube star profiled in the film, others find it hard to to talk publicly about a behavior that's so stigmatized.

"People can go for years before they even realize that what they have is a disorder," Corsie said. "The reason I made the film is because it is so common. It’s not just the people who TLC shows you. It’s normal people who we’re friends with, who we don’t know have this, or have been struggling with this for 10 years."

We asked HuffPost Lifestyle readers what they wished everyone knew about dermatillomania or trichotillomania. Here's what they said:

1. "I think that the biggest impact that dermatillomania has had on me is being the only one my age with 'acne' and knowing that the state of my skin is directly correlated to my state of mind. Kind of like wearing my heart of my sleeve, except it is my brain, on my skin." -- Facebook user Bonnie Van Tassel

2. "I've been suffering with trich on and off since I was 10. I'm 19 now and if I could give advice to my younger self or other people suffering with it, I'd say you're not alone and people are generally more understanding than you'd think. Sure, some people won't understand, but you probably don't want to be around people like that anyway. There are plenty of online resources and [the Trich Learning Center] is great." -- Facebook user Madison Nelson

3. "I've had dermatillomania almost my entire life and it's terrible. And don't even ask me me 'Why can't you just stop?'... I would if I could." -- Facebook user Kim Dupuis

4. "Trich is something I've suffered with on and off for eight years now. I used to think I was the only one. Now I know I'm not alone. Always keep fighting." -- Facebook user Madison Kay Nelson

5. "I'm not sick or crazy and I don't hate myself. Also I don't need you to stoke my ego with the pity compliments. I'm not 'Still beautiful in spite of trich.' That was never a concern!" -- Facebook user Caitlin Webster

6. "People are more than their conditions." -- Rebecca Brown, who appears in "Trichster." Brown, who was diagnosed with trichotillomania when she was 11, took a photo of herself every day for 6.5 years for this video montage:

7. "Sometimes I don't even notice that I'm doing it... next thing you know, blood." -- Facebook user Judy Adams

8. "I always thought that it was just me. I love my hair. I just can't stop." -- Facebook user Yazmin LoGiudice

9. "I leave the lights off whenever I go to the bathroom at home. I don't pick what I can't see." -- Facebook user Jennifer DiSabatino

10. "I wish people would stop saying to me 'Just quit doing it,' as if it were that simple..." -- Facebook user Laura Hanson

11. "One, that I don't really WANT to do it. Trust me, I'm afraid I'm going to pull all my hair out one day and go bald. Two, growing my eyebrows out again was a huge success for me! Three, I also tweeze hairs out of my legs."-- Facebook user Lauren Vaught

12. "Yes, my eyelashes WILL grow back. Well, until they won't. Still not OK to ask about it." -- Facebook user Rachel Devonne

13. "It's good this is finally getting more attention. It's very difficult to describe by sufferers, and even harder to seek help." -- Facebook user Rachael Leigh

14. "If I could 'Just stop,' don't you think I would?!" -- Facebook user Melani June

Correction: In an earlier version of this article, Corsie stated that 'My Strange Addiction' is produced by MTV. The show is actually produced by TLC.


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