Ready to feel all the feelings? After seeing the video a young woman named Rebecca Brown created, I have basically been sniffling for a good hour now. 21-year-old Rebecca began taking a photo every day back in 2007 at age 14, which would be lovely as is but her “photo a day” video comes with a serious twist: Rebecca suffers from trichotillomania, so her video reveals her struggle with hair loss, mental illness and simply growing up.
Trichotillomania is a disorder that involves compulsively pulling out one’s hair. From the Trichotillomania Learning Center:
Trichotillomania (trick-o-til-o-MAY-nee-ah) is a disorder that causes people to pull out the hair from their scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, pubic area, underarms, beard, chest, legs or other parts of the body, resulting in noticeable bald patches. Hair pulling varies greatly in its severity, location on the body, and response to treatment. For some people, at some times, trichotillomania is mild and can be quelled with a bit of extra awareness and concentration. For others, at times the urge may be so strong that it makes thinking of anything else nearly impossible.
In Rebecca’s video, you see her go through different hairstyles, from long hair to short, wigs to totally bald, patchy to full. In brief notes on the margins of her video, she details what was going on in her life. “Severely Depressed” and “Suicidal” accompany some images; another reads “Started London Film”; eventually, we see “Bald-Free For A Year.” By the end of the video, it is impossible not to feel yourself rooting for this girl you have never met and have never spoken to because in just a few short minutes, you’ve already seen her very long, very painful journey that spanned years.
If you haven’t watched it already, check it out:
Now tell me you don’t have all the tears in your eyes. C’mon.
Side story: As a kid, there was approximately a year-long period where I pulled out my hair obsessively. I have had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder for as long as I can remember (though I was only diagnosed with it at 15 or 16), so experiencing a compulsive urge to perform a task like ripping out my hair from my middle part–which subsequently became a side part for a few years–seemed fairly natural. I insisted to my parents that my hair was falling out because I was so ashamed; shame is a common response that many people who deal with trichotillomania feel, as it is not exactly easy to explain nor rationalize to those who don’t have it.
I eventually moved on to other behaviors, so I absolutely did not have nearly as persistent and frustrating of an experience with trichotillomania as Rebecca did. My relief seeing this even as an adult years away from my bout with the disorder was immense, and therefore I cannot imagine just how moving it must be for longtime sufferers or those who still cope with it daily to see such an incredible video. So, thanks Rebecca Brown–we hope you keep snapping photos daily forever.