Impulse Control Disorder Is a Real Thing And This Girl is Winning The Battle
We get affected and inspired by a lot of people’s stories. It would usually be a story of some celebrity that made it out of the slums and ended up in the hall of fame after years of blood, sweat and tears. No matter what the story’s about, it usually belongs to someone who’s lucky enough to be heard, but do ever stop and think about our own stories? Do we ever wonder about the story of the stranger across the street, the guy who sells you a pack of cigarettes every morning, or your shy co-worker who never leaves her cubicle? We could be surrounded by hundreds of stories and we might not even know it; everyone is fighting in their own way, and everyone could definitely inspire or empower others by the simplest act.
22-year-old Yara is one of those people. To most people in her life, she might have seemed like someone who has a normal life just like everybody else. Yara is indeed like everybody else, someone who had her own untold story, until one day she decided that it needs to be told. We stumbled upon her Facebook post and we couldn’t help but notice a young woman who decided to unchain herself from the demon she’s been fighting for the past 10 years.
Yara Ismail, who was born and raised in Alexandria, studies arts and documentation and also works for advertising agency in Cairo on a freelance basis. As we sat down with her, she told us, “exploring new things and new challenges is how I like to spend my days.” Yara’s story started when she was diagnosed with Trichotillomania (Trich) at the age of 12. It’s a type of impulse control disorder which is basically the urge to pull out one’s hair; usually from the scalp, eyebrows or eyelashes, resulting in empty batches.
Having to cope with such a thing as a teenager wasn’t easy for sure. It took Yara five whole years to be able to understand that this was an actual disorder that she had no control over. As she grew up, wearing the Hijab helped her cope with the situation, but still wasn’t able to accept it. “I was pulling out my hair so hard to cope with it, it was one of the reasons why I was diagnosed with mild depression in December 2015,” Yara told us.
She was tired of the endless ongoing loop of pulling out her hair, waiting for it to grow back, and pulling it out all over again. “I was also tired of living my life surrounded by piles of hair, along with the fact that I started to damage it permanently,” she explained. That cycle of pulling resulted in slowing down the growth of some parts of her hair. That’s why she got the urge to actually shave her head completely; thinking that she would be giving her poor roots some time to heal in a way or another, and because she herself needed a break. “That was my way of becoming true to myself and stop hiding under my veil,” Yara explained. She felt that she was being controlled by her own head and that she was hiding her true self.
So after 10 years of fighting, Yara decided not to surrender and give in to something that was completely out of her hands and had no solution for. Instead, she decided it to play the game on her own terms. Yara shaved her head on the 30th of December, 2017, following the “new year, new me” concept. “There comes a point where you can’t take it anymore and you just decide to do whatever makes you happy and nothing else,” she said.
Finally, we asked Yara if there’s something she’d like to say if she got the chance to speak up. She said that people need to know that not everyone will understand, and not everyone has the capability of understanding what anyone is going through, especially if it’s a mental illness. She also wished that people would start appreciating their loved ones and to show them support even if they’re not fully aware of what they may be going through.