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Emily’s Story and Video Diary - part 4

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Transcription of interview - Emily 1 year later

For those who are unable to view the video, prefer to read, or who have difficulties in hearing, this is a transcription of the interview

After having my Intralace System removed after having had it for 12 months, it feels incredible to see my own hair and how much its grown. It’s grown much more than I expected it to and I’m just so happy.

Part of my plan for managing my TTM going forward includes keeping in touch with Lucinda Ellery. I never want to let my hair get back into the place where it was before, so I know that I can have the Intralace System refitted if I need to, And I’m also going to keep in touch with Lucinda - she’s got really useful strategies for managing TTM. I also have things that I can sort of fiddle with at home; like a hair band round my wrist and things like that, so if I’m watching the TV and I ever have the urge to pull my hair I’ve got something else to do with my hands.

When I first got the Intralace System fitted I wasn’t really sure what to expect, it obviously felt a bit strange at first. But it soon kind of just became really normal to me like I could wash my hair and style my hair as usual. And you know it helped me in more ways than just creating a barrier, because it gave me the confidence back that I lacked because I had a full head of hair again, and it made me like kind of so willing to never go back to where I was before.

It’s been almost 12 months to the day since I had my Intralace System fitted, and life has just changed so much since I had it done; the confidence that I’ve gained from having it is just incredible. I’ve made plans to move to Australia next year which I don’t think I could see myself doing a year ago.

Before I used to be kind of scared about leaving the house sometimes, it would take me a long time to get ready, and I used to be really self-conscious going out, now I never have that worry any more, you know it doesn’t take me anything near as long to get ready and I’m really confident at work and around my friends, and just life’s improved amazingly.

Dating’s a lot easier too, because I don’t have that worry about having to explain my condition to a potential partner, as my condition isn’t obvious anymore. So I’m just a lot more confident about getting out there and dating in general.

I haven’t pulled my hair out at all in the last 12 months. I still definitely kind of fiddle with it occasionally, and play with it, but I’ve got much better at managing it, and of course because of the Intralace System having created a barrier I haven’t been able to pull anything out. And also even if I tried, I think the sensation in my scalp has come back, because I’d pulled for so long it had kind of become second nature and I think it now a lot more obvious to me that I’m doing it which is a big deterrent for me.

Looking back at where I was 12 months ago, the change in me is just so evident; not just in a physical sense but mentally I’m so much more confident, much happier in myself. I have occasional bad days as we all do, and like TTM will always be with me, but I’ve just become so much better at managing it and I’m just so much happier in general.

When I was pulling my hair I was pulling about 50% of it out, and obviously even though it’s grown back now it’s a lot shorter and it’s finer at the ends, so because of that today I’m going to have Medi Connections extensions fitted to balance it all out. So as well as kind of continuing to act a as a barrier like the Intralace System, it’s going to be there as a constant reminder to me, which I think is great and I’m really excited about having it done.

Hannah (Emily’s sister) Over the past 12 months I think my sister’s changed massively - her confidence has just grown and grown. I mean thinking back to where she was at the start and kind of the anxiety that she had aroud Trichotillomania, like now it’s just she doesn’t have to worry about these things.

I’ve just spent the last couple of hours having Medi Conenctions fitted, so hair extensions. It feels really different to the Intralace, my head kind of feels a lot lighter, it’s got less on it, but it’s still great ’cos I can still feel there’s a barrier there to stop me pulling my hair out, which is fantastic. And it’s been really good at balancing out the hair because obviously the hair that's grown back is a lot shorter, so I’m really happy with it.

Ideally I would have got help with my condition sooner - obviously I know that it’s really difficult to admit you have a problem and talk about it to anyone else, so I’m just so happy that I found Lucinda Ellery and didn’t let the problem get any worse before I got help. I’m aware that permanent damage can be a problem with TTM and that’s why it’s important to get help as soon as you can, and why I’m really glad that I did before there was any permanent damage, because if there was it would just mean that I would have to get help for the rest of my life. And I’m just so glad that I’ve had the opportunity to regrow the hair before there was any permanent damage.

I’m now a lot more confident doing things that I would be wary or avoid doing before, so say things like going swimming, and also things in general like going out when it’s windy and raining and now I don’t have to worry about my hair coming out of place, whereas before I’d spend ages in a mirror like hair spraying to make sure it didn’t fall out of place and show my bald patches. So the difference it’s made to my life and the things I’m able to do now is just fantastic.

It has been quite an emotional journey over the last year. I mean when I first saw my new hair with the Intralace System I felt very emotional because it was the first time I’d had a full head of hair in a very long time, and when I had my realignment and I saw how much regrowth there had been that was really emotional in a good way, and today, seeing how much I’ve grown back and feeling like I've been given a fresh start, it’s all been very emotional but in a great way, and I’m just so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to have the Intralace System.

Hannah: It’s so nice, when you sent the photo earlier, just to see like all of your natural hair had grown back it was just, yeah, it’s amazing to see the progress after these months, so yeah, it’s really good.

If I could give anyone a message that was in the same situation that I was in last year, I would say to them to accept that they do have a problem and that they can get help for it, and to not wait any longer to get help. Because there is help out there and even though there’s no cure for TTM there are management systems and you don’t have to suffer with it - you can manage it.