I developed a psychological disorder called “trichotillomania” when I was eight years old.

Whenever I feel bad, you are the first thing that comes to my mind. I was physically alone, but I had close friends whom I’ve never seen, that I whispered my secrets to, sometimes felt closer than myself that are kilometers away. My only purpose in life was to shout out myself, who I am, and what I do. Thoughts make us strong and fearless. I knew this from the very beginning. I knew that I wasn’t the girl in the mirror, and I never will be.

My freedom story started when I was nine. I have a moment that started everything. I developed a psychological disorder called “trichotillomania” at eight years old. This is a disorder that causes you to pull off your hair compulsively. I would pull my hair off for minutes without even realizing, feeling pain, or having a purpose if you can believe it, and the worst part was that it gave me pleasure. I’ve gone so far that bald patches appeared on the back of my neck. The reason behind this disorder was the fact that my parents imposed every little thing on me and that we lived in a highly Islamic way. My mother wears a burka1, and my dad thinks that he is a Muslim. My hair was terrible at that time. My friends looked at me weirdly, and my self-esteem was crushed. I’ve always hidden myself, so much so that even I thought I was in an irreversible situation. I would always hold my head up high so that no one would see the back of my neck when I was walking down the street.

When my mother said, “You’ll start covering your hair” to me out of nowhere, I was about to start 5th grade, and I hadn’t even had my period yet. As a girl who wore long dresses since childhood, somewhat covered herself and didn’t wear shorts, leggings, or anything that showed armpits, it wasn’t something hard for me. My eyes filled with tears when I went outside the next day. In a way, I was happy; I could never deny that. After all, they weren’t looking at my hair, and I didn’t have a weird neck anymore! I started walking to school with my skirt, which was bigger than I was. Everybody looked at me, weirdly. I was a little kid. I was going to a conservative religious school. Everyone congratulated, hugged, and kissed me at school. I was delighted but also suffering so much at the same time. I spent three years pushing myself to love myself.

I completely shut down by the time I was in the eighth grade. I always inwardly questioned religion, and I became a deist at that point. I met a girl and found my sun in her hair. I was almost reborn every time I saw her. I was disgusted by the blood, but there was no spot left to cut on my left arm. I pushed myself away from my friends and tried to sleep with a razor blade on my hand every night. First, my teachers, then my family realized this situation. I took medical treatment for a year and a half. During the summer break, I begged my father not to go to the religious school anymore. He sent me there as if it was him who studied there, who was shaping his future. I felt so bad that I couldn’t even find the euphemism to explain it. I might be a lab mouse kept in a cage.

Now I’m in the ninth grade. The only thing I care about is the people who have walked in my shoes and me. I believe our future will be even better than our dreams. I love you all.

  1. A burqa or burka is an enveloping outer garment which covers the body and the face that is worn by women in some Islamic traditions.

(Image: Kerry Phippen)

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