• STV
  • MySTV

Hair-pulling disorder: Rare condition 'turned me into a recluse'

Katie Hawthorne calls on more NHS funding to help people with trichotillomania.

It is a condition unknown to many but there are an estimated 840,000 people in the UK affected by trichotillomania.

Sufferers of hair-pulling disorder, as it is also known, feel compelled to pull out their hair from their head, eyelashes or any other part of their body.

Only around 1% of the UK population suffer from it. Katie Hawthorne, 26, from Livingston is one of them.

Starting as a reaction to an accident that left her face scarred when she was 15, Katie has been pulling out her hair for over 11 years.

"For around nine years, I just became more and more of a recluse", Katie explains.

"At first I was trying to hide the condition and just carry on. I just shut myself out completely - I stopped going out, stopped talking to friends - I just stayed in the house by myself."

As Katie's condition worsened, she got a job working night shift so she wouldn't have to deal with the public, started only going out with friends around twice a month and sunk into a deep depression.

She calls the experience a frustration.

"It would build in me - the need to pull out my hair," she says.

"I would try to suppress it for as long as I could but it was always building. And then it would get to the point where I would just be overwhelmed and I would pull a hair.

"It was so satisfying at first, a relief. But then afterwards you were just left with such a horrible feeling. I'd be sitting on my phone and look down and there would be this big pile of hair next to me."

Hair: The condition left Katie almost bald.
Hair: The condition left Katie almost bald. STV

Katie only learned about her condition one night while watching television when she was 17.

"I saw a TV show with a girl suffering from the same condition", she explains.

"It was the exact same way I was feeling, everything that I was doing. From then I started doing research to get more information."

She says she struggled to get a doctor to take her condition seriously.

"I had to go to quite a few doctors before one would even listen to me," she says.

"I think it's because these doctors were looking at me while dealing with sick people - maybe people who had cancer or something - and thinking 'well it's just hair'.

"But it's a mental health condition. It was a relief when I found out it was an actual condition, that it wasn't just something wrong with me. But the downside is knowing there's no cure to it, it can only be managed."

Threading: Treatment has left Katie'feeling like a new person'.
Threading: Treatment has left Katie'feeling like a new person'. STV

Now, Katie is calling for more funding and support for those suffering from the condition.

Katie gets the intralace system fitted onto her head at Lucinda Ellery in Edinburgh.

"Some people can't afford this, because there is no budget on the NHS to get anything done," she says.

"It has made such a difference to my life - I'm a happy person for the first time in almost ten years. There should be something."

She adds: "I felt like it was almost not worth it at first, but keeping upbeat about it - there is some help out there.

"It sounds so clichéd, but it does get better."

Download: The STV News app is Scotland's favourite and is available for iPhone from the App store and for Android from Google Play. Download it today and continue to enjoy STV News wherever you are.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. At least 6 characters please. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
At least 6 characters please
ShowHide
This field is required. At least 6 characters please.
You have to be 16 or over to join
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
Type your full postcode and select your address This field is required. It doesn't look like you've entered a valid postcode. Can't find your address? Confirm the details you've given us are correct by clicking here

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, including our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. Any issues contact us.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.