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Home » Overcoming Trichotillomania: The Power of Awareness – Aneela Idnani (Transcript)

Overcoming Trichotillomania: The Power of Awareness – Aneela Idnani (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of Aneela Idnani’s talk titled “Overcoming Trichotillomania: The Power of Awareness” at TEDxFargo conference.

Listen to the audio version here:


I have a secret to share. This is a secret that I’ve held on to for more than 25 years. When it began at age 12, even I wasn’t aware of what was happening. And that confusion led me to hide. From then until now, from parents to best friends to even my own husband, I made sure no one was aware of this secret.

I, Aneela Idnani, pull out my hair. My hair pulling was subconscious and compulsive. Have you ever heard of someone who pulls out their hair without being aware that it’s happening? It’s weird, right? Well, that’s what I thought as a 12-year-old girl growing up. I thought I was weird, and I thought I was wrong for doing this damage to myself.

I thought that I was wrong and damaged. As I grew into my high school years, I watched my father battle and lose to leukemia. And my own battle with hair pulling intensified. I felt alone, I felt afraid, but I am so far from it. One in 20 Americans are just like me, hurting in hiding.

Discovering Trichotillomania

That’s 100 people in this room who are just like me. I am not alone, and neither are you. As I grew into my early 20s, Dr. Google made me aware of the facts. My hair pulling was a coping mechanism for stress, anxiety, and boredom. It was a mental health disorder with the name trichotillomania.

Trichotillomania is part of a broader group of mental health disorders that includes compulsive skin-picking, also known as dermatillomania, and chronic nail-biting, also known as onychophagia. These collectively are known as body-focused repetitive behaviors.

As if this struggle wasn’t enough, I have to contend with all of these syllables. Do you know how hard it is to write body-focused repetitive behavior awareness tweets? I do, and it doesn’t stop me, because I know we need awareness of these disorders for my community to come out of hiding and into healing. Body-focused repetitive behaviors are the most common disorder you have never heard of. If it’s not you who is hurting in hiding, it’s someone you know, it’s someone you love.

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