Pearson is particularly gratified by the work TLC has done with children, teenagers and their families.
"Today, trichotillomania can be controlled and managed, and it doesn't have to stop you from being fully happy with yourself. If anything, we have 16-year-olds who say, 'I am stronger because of this, I am a better person, because I've learned so much about what to do with myself, how to treat myself and where my limits are.'"
And what about Pearson's recovery? She's "happily married" and has a "full head of hair."
"I still do find myself pulling during periods of great duress; also the premenstrual time is a trigger time for me, so I know to be very careful-to go to bed early, take lots of calcium, exercise. I have been on SSRIs for seven years. They help with my depression, which helps keep me motivated to stay aware, but they are not a primary intervention with my hair pulling anymore, although in the early days, they were. My hair pulling has been reduced by 97%. Is it perfect? No. Can I live like this the rest of my life? You bet. Am I grateful? Forever."
The Trichotillomania Learning Center is located at 1215 Mission St., Suite 2, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, (408)457-1004. The author of this article is a member of TLC and attended the first retreat in 1992.