‘I no longer feel like a recluse’
A Mail Online article about Phoebe Ottomar who spent years pulling her hair and became increasingly reclusive because of it. Now as part of International No Pulling Week she’s talking about suffering from Trichotillomania since the age of eight and how she’s been able to recover from it with our help.
Read her interview below or download a pdf of the article
This is an extract from the article which can be read in full on the Mail Online site or via the pdf version linked to above.
A teen who was left almost bald after pulling her own hair out has finally been given the golden locks of her dreams.
Phoebe Ottomar, from Northampton, who suffers from trichotillomania, spent years tugging at her hair, leaving her with golf ball-sized bald patches.
The 19-year-old was left devastated by the consequences of her habit - often refusing to leave the house - until she came across pioneering treatment that enabled her hair to grow back.
Phoebe is now taking part this week in International No Pulling Week, aimed at raising awareness about her hair pulling condition, called trichotillomania.
Phoebe said: ‘I felt like a completely new person since I had my new hair system, it’s fair to say it really has changed my life.’
‘I don’t think you realise how important hair is until you’ve barely got any.’
‘For as long as I can remember I’ve always dreamt of having long hair, I used to be so envious of other girls in school.’
‘I was over the moon when I read about Lucinda Ellery and finally realised there was a way to get my hair back.’
‘It’s amazing that my real hair is actually growing now and I have my confidence back.’
Phoebe, a languages student, began pulling her hair out at the age of eight.
She said: ‘I started pulling my hair out when I was really young and I can remember looking at the hair root and being really fascinated.’
‘From there the pull became a release for me and I found it really therapeutic.
‘When I was little we used to live in China and I think maybe the move back to the UK was what started it off.’
‘Then at secondary school it became worse - issues with friends and boys made me do it even more.’
‘People would constantly ask me why my hair was so thin and why I always put it up.’
‘Hair is so important to a teenage girl but I just didn’t have any and felt I couldn’t relate to any of the girls in my year.’
‘I hated whenever conversation topics turned to hair. I constantly found myself scraping my hair back into a granny-style bun to try and hide the hideous bald patches.’
‘I hated the windy weather as it would often blow the hairstyle out of place and reveal the sparse bits of hair. I would get so paranoid and stressed.’
Phoebe would constantly pull at her hair - but no GP or specialist was able to say why.
Phoebe said: ‘I went to therapy and tried hypnosis but nothing worked. It was when my mum noticed me pulling at my hair that we realised I had trichotillomania.’
‘She’d seen an article about it in a woman’s weekly magazine and she knew I had the condition straight away.’
Finally after hours of research with research with mother Joanne, 45, Pheobe discovered an answer to her problems.
Phoebe said: ‘We came across Lucinda Ellery - the leading expert on my condition.’
‘Lucinda helped me realise that thousands of other women suffer like I have, and after discussing treatment, we decided the best option was the Intralace.’
The Intralace System is not a cure for hair pulling but acts as a barrier and reminder to the individual to not pull their hair.
The pioneering system has a mesh which is placed between the individual’s existing hair and their scalp.
This intricate design also has an ultra-fine mesh containing human hair which is used to completely disguise any hair loss.
Phoebe said: ‘I’ve been living with the system now for about five years and would never look back.’
‘My hair is really growing now and even when I try and pull my hair the system stops it from coming out.’
‘Not only has it helped my hair grow, but it’s also helped me to kick the habit of pulling in the first place. I hope that my story helps just one other person realise what the condition is and that they’re not alone.’
‘I no longer feel like a recluse and can finally do things that other teenagers do instead of hiding away. It’s great, no-one can tell the hair’s not really mine.’
Lucinda said: ‘Through education we can help millions more women across the world become pull free.’
‘It’s staggering that thousands of women in the UK suffer from trichotillomania the hair pulling disorder.’
‘International No Pulling Week hopes to raise awareness about the condition. The average woman who is likely to experience this condition starts around the age of puberty.
‘The condition is considered to be connected with those who are highly intelligent, sensitive and working in a high powered, pressurised job.
‘The neurobiological condition causes overwhelming urges to pull out your own hair and often is release for dealing with stress.’