Trichotillomania - How did you find out about Lucinda Ellery

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Lucinda asks four of her Trichotillomania clients how they found out about her and came to visit her for the first time and some of the effects they've felt from those first visits.

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Transcription of Conversation - Trichotillomania - How did you find out about Lucinda Ellery?

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I first knew about you through a magazine article many years ago in fact, when I think your organisation was known as Attention X, a completely different name altogether. And I kept that article and I stashed it away in a drawer, for another day, because that wasn't the right day for me - another decade in fact indeed. And it was just one of those moments, a "sod it" moment as I would call it, when you just get up one day and think 'I have to crack this, if I don't do something now this is going to be a problem for me for evermore' and I was more and more conscious of the fact that there was potentially permanent damage being done and if I didn't stop now I was going to have a serious problem.

This was six years ago, and I picked up the phone one day, palpitations, hold my breath and decided to come in which I did and ironically immediately after booking in the appointment I then had a really difficult time at work - I work on a major crisis team - and I was called out for a really significant crisis which went on for weeks, and I would never have been able to make that appointment if I hadn't made it that day but it was meant to be. Anyway the crisis subsided, and the appointment date came round, and I rocked up for the day, and about 12 hours later I fell out of your building, new person, with hair, because up to that point my hair had all been piled up on my head and laquered to within an inch of its life, what was left of it, and I walked out looking like this completely different person, and it was like being born again, it was a very weird thing. And over the years the Intralace System has stayed on until gradually we got it shorter and smaller and smaller until I ended up with literally just the parting because by this stage things had pretty much grown back but I was a bit thin, and felt I just needed just that little bit of a comfort, a bit of extra protection. And it was actually March this year for the final time, off came that parting and it was all me after that.

And I'm not really an emotional person but that day I came to have the parting removed I cried like a baby from start to finish. It was almost like 20, 30 years of pressure suddenly releasing and it was, it was undescribable. And my life has changed since then, I've now got my time back, I don't spend in the bathroom 'juzzing' and preening and I can go out I feel confident, it's made an enormous difference to me. I feel like I'm a different person, I feel the sky's the limit now, there are things I do now I would never have done, I certainly wouldn't have become a magistrate, I wouldn't have had the confidence to do that; I've had promotions at work I wouldn't have dreamed of, it's just completely reinvented who I am and I now don't have any barriers.

Anna, what's it mean to you to face your dailly life with the appearance of a full head of hair?

Well for me I used to live my life without any hair at all, and when I first came to you and had what was then a Volumiser, now the Intralace, attached, at first I couldn't get used to it. And the thing I couldn't get used to most of all was the way people treated me - so differently - they treated me like a full normal human being. People used to look straight through me or straight round me, anywhere except at me because obviously they didn't want to stare and they didn't want to stare at my hair, and I'll never forget, on my way to you, the very very first time, for the very first appointment I was so emotional and so upset I'd just bought a new car, a lovely little Mercedes, I scraped it all the way down some lampost as I was round Putney Bridge. I was in such a state because I was about to go and let my hair down in front of a stranger for the very very first time ever. And that night after sitting in your chair for like 12 hours having a new system put in, the hair of my choice, color of my choice, style of my choice. The absolute certainty I could do whatever I liked, I could swim, I could swing from chandeliers, I could jump off bridges, go surfing in the sea, I could do whatever I pleased and my hair would stay in place, I couldn't actually believe it and then I pulled in, I needed some petrol, and the person behind the counter as I was paying was being flirtatious and I looked round - who's he flirting with - and suddenly realised 'he's flirting with me!' Cos I'm suddenly blond, and normal. I couldn't believe it and really my life was transformed.

Wow. What about you Angela, what's it like for you to have a full head of hair?

Well, the first time I came and had it done, I couldn't get used to seeing myself in the mirror. I would look in the mirror straightaway and I'm thinking 'who is looking back at me?' I found that very strange and it took me a very long time, same as Anna, it took me a very long time to get used to the fact that, I had hair, and I was normal, and blended in, and didn't stick out like a sore thumb. I didn't go to the school gates and kids would look at me and my children would say 'oh mommy hasn't got hair any more', I was a normal mum again. That was really very reassuring that you could do something like that and feel normal again.