‘It took over my life’: Disorder sees woman tear own hair out for 18 years

A businesswoman who compulsively yanked her own hair out for 18 years after her estranged father died in prison when she was nine has conquered her demons and launched a haircare brand.

Despite being close to her mother, retired bookkeeper, Pat Keirle, 62, and stepfather Kelvin Keirle, 68, a retired engineer, for years Rosie Myers, 30, struggled with the trauma of losing her dad, who she stopped seeing when she was five-years-old.

Unable to process her emotions, Rosie started pulling her hair out – a condition known as trichotillomania – finding the physical pain of self-harming a welcome distraction from the intense emotional trauma she did not have the tools to deal with.

After further loss triggered a mental breakdown for which she sought help, at last Rosie, who lives in Portsmouth, Hampshire, with her girlfriend, Chloe Andrews, 28, was able to stop her alarming habit, saying: “It took over my life.

“It was a vicious cycle. I’d feel stressed and I’d pull my hair out, then I’d feel ashamed and would pull more out.

“It became so deep-rooted in my subconscious to deal with emotional pain by pulling out my hair that I wouldn’t even know I was doing it.”

Ironically for Rosie, who does not discuss why her father was in jail and how he died out of respect to her family, it was suffering further loss that finally became her salvation.

When her family pet, a dog called Prince, died in 2017, followed by the loss of her paternal grandmother, Bernadette, aged 67, her world came crashing down.

She said: “I had a full on mental breakdown, crying all the time and realised I had never really processed everything that had happened.”

After a conversation with her concerned mother and best friends, Rosie signed up for talking therapy in a bid to conquer her demons for good.

She said: “I had to go back and speak to the little girl Rosie and tell her not to hurt anymore.

“It was a really painful process and really hard but, very slowly, I started to get there.”

She added: “It didn’t happen overnight, but finally I started to look at those feelings I had as ones in the past – as if they were in the rear-view mirror, and move on.”

Now sporting a head of shining hair, Rosie’s journey to recovery was slow and difficult.

She said: “My dad was very troubled and wasn’t in my life from the age of five, but I still always missed him and wondered when I would see him next.”

It hurt, but actually that hurt felt like pain relief, because for a minute it felt like I was in control.

She added: “After I found out he had died when I was nine years old, my entire world fell apart.”

Despite having therapy at school, Rosie’s fractured childhood soon took its toll.

She said: “I had always been top of the class, but I just started to feel so angry and I would direct that anger at anyone and everyone. I would get into fights and I stopped caring about anything.”

Overwhelmed by her feelings, when she turned nine, Rosie started to pull her hair out.

Rosie Myers wearing a baseball cap as a child to hide her bald spots (Collect/PA Real Life)

Rosie Myers when she was three-years-old with a full head of hair (Collect/PA Real Life)


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