the bald spotpublished: 2011-12-06
The little girl is almost ten. She scratches at blemishes in her skin and plucks her hair. Her father once told her a story: a young girl had died of the hair she had eaten. One by one. The hair collected in her gut, caused internal bleeding. This is when our little girl started picking. Or maybe she continued, she isn’t sure. In any event, she doesn’t go as far as to eat her hair even though she thinks of it a lot. There are spaces in her eyelases from where she pulled them out, and she tries to hide the gaps by colouring them with her mother’s eyeliner.
One day she sees a photo of herself which was taken from behind. There is a bald spot on her head. Her mother hands her the photo. She is horrified. She can’t think of a moment she ever wanted to die more than then. Luckily, her mother throws it away and doesn’t say a word. No talks, please no.
Then a girl from school dies of 3rd degree burns. Her synthetic nighty got caught in the gas heater. She was dancing when it caught fire. Our little girl likes to dance too. She envisions how she’d love to be wearing the kind of nighty that swirls and is at risk of catching fire. She herself wears pj’s.
Our little girl is now a woman. She still picks and plucks, usually at scabs on her scalp. They are small scabs that hurt and become infected, quite often the lymphnodes in her neck are swollen. She bites her cuticles too and sometimes they bleed. And she plucks at her hair, only the coarser ones, the greys. She stops herself on time though. Nobody will ever discover a bald spot on her head.
It turns out there’s a name for what she does, except that it’s usually when people are sick in the head and then they pick a hole right through the bridge of their nose. The information says it’s probably something in the scope of obsessive compulsive behaviour, nobody is really sure. Pickers don’t feel anything while they pick, says the website. The picking releases stress. The physical pain hides emotional pain. It often starts as a reaction to trauma. Anti-depressant drugs help, of course.
She briefly wonders what trauma she might have had. The trauma of not having caught fire? She shrugs her shoulders. She’s doing perfectly fine. As long as nobody notices a bald spot.