World of Writing - Author Interview:
At age 10, Barbara began pulling out her eyebrows for seemingly no reason at all.
As much as she wanted to stop, she found that she couldn’t.
She was diagnosed with hair-pulling disorder, trichotillomania.
Trichotillomania is one type of body-focused repetitive behavior, where one has uncontrollable urges to pull out their body hair.
After 19 years with trichotillomania, Barbara decided it was time to let go of her shame and spread awareness of a disorder she struggled to accept. In 2020, Barbara published her book The Trichster Diaries, a collection of short stories and poems detailing her journey to self-acceptance.
Q: Barbara, when you think of how others in your daily circles perceive you, what do you think they see? How would a good friend describe you?
A: I would have to say loyal, loving, and determined. I have had the same group of best friends for over 10 years and I take pride in that. We have such a loving and supportive group. They were the first people I told when I decided I wanted to write a book, and they instantly believed in me. I would do anything for them, and I know the feeling is reciprocal.
Q: Life can be hard sometimes; days can get long and there are times when we feel like we have just reached a limit and need a time out. It is our inspirations and aspirations that keep us going. So, Barbara, what inspires you?
The idea that there are other young people struggling with trichotillomania without awareness inspires me constantly. Growing up, I was the only one that I knew who had trichotillomania. It would have changed my entire life knowing that someone with trichotillomania was leading a fulfilling, beautiful, and incredible life. I hope that in writing The Trichster Diaries, hosting Trich Talks, and spreading awareness in any way that I can, that the young people with trichotillomania will know they are not alone.
Q: How do you determine or evaluate success?
Success means different things to different people. To me, having someone with trichotillomania say that they related to my book, or that they are inspired to share their own story makes me feel successful. I rarely ever spoke about my trichotillomania. It was my dirty little secret. And what I have found is that most people with trichotillomania feel the same exact way, which is so unfortunate because there is a beautiful community out there for us.
Q: What has been the best compliment you’ve received as a writer?
Someone who’s 10 year old daughter has trichotillomania messaged me saying that daughter looked at the photographs of me in The Trichster Diaries and said “Mom, she is just like me!” That moment is so special to me because when I was growing up, I never saw anyone like me. I’m glad I could be that for her.
As far as my writing goes, I’ve had people share that they couldn’t put my book down and read it all in one day! There’s nothing like finding a good book like that and I am so happy to hear mine gives that feeling to others!
Q: We like to highlight how authors are making a difference in the world and with that in mind what do you feel are your contributions to society?
My goal is to spread as much awareness of trichotillomania as I can. I donate to and support The TLC foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (bfrb.org)
I have an Instagram Live Series called Trich Talks on my Instagram page (@TheTrichsterDiaries) where I interview others with trichotillomania and give them an opportunity to share their story with the world. I have done 19 episodes so far!
Q: Fantastic! Congratulations on your Instagram series :) Tell us the process of
creating the cover for your book.
creating the cover for your book.
I always knew I wanted a simple cover for The Trichster Diaries with a wreath. When first starting my Instagram page in 2018, I was completely anonymous and keeping it simple felt safe to me. As I became more comfortable with sharing my story, and ultimately sharing my goal to publish a book, I kept the wreath. I chose this wreath in particular because it looks like there are little hair bulbs!
Q: During the editing, beta reading, proof reading, and re-write stages of your book, did you have to delete very much? Did you find that difficult?
I did have stories and poems that I removed before publishing, but I do not regret it. I found what felt like the perfect place to stop, and I will keep the stories and poems I removed for the next The Trichster Diaries book. Because trichotillomania is incurable, I know I will publish another book about it.