Living with the urge: Compulsive hair-pulling disorder affects one in 50
FARGO - When Sandra Bodek was a little girl, she plucked the eyelashes from her dolls.
By the time she was 9, she was plucking her own. Her hair-pulling moved to her scalp around age 10.
Bodek, 36, of Fargo, suffers from trichotillomania, a compulsive disorder that causes people to pull hair from different parts of their bodies.
It was a while before anyone noticed because she hid it well under her ponytail, but it affected her social interactions.
An invite to a pool party was enough to make her physically ill.
“I didn’t know how to tell them that I couldn’t go,” she says.
The problem got worse before it got better.
Bodek started cutting her own hair at 12 because she was afraid to go to a hairstylist. She was so depressed by 14 she attempted suicide.
“I just felt like a freak,” she says.
Millions of Americans (2 to 4 percent) have trichotillomania, but it wasn’t until the late ’80s that any information about it appeared in mainstream media.