A few months ago my daughter looked tired. When she came into our room in the morning to nuzzle me awake, she looked different. What changed? I couldn't figure it out.
A few weeks later I picked her up from school. She ran over and stared up, waiting for my reaction. Her left eyebrow had vanished. "Are you mad at me?" she asked. I couldn't answer. During PE that day she'd pulled out her entire eyebrow -- using her fingernails.
That's why she looked so tired -- she was slowly pulling out her eyebrows and eyelashes. Had the rigors of third grade pushed my eight-year-old over the edge?
I raced into action -- call the school, call the pediatrician, call Mom. Mom, who is always right, had the answer. "Oh, she has Trichotillomania," she said nonchalantly. Trichotillo-what?
On the web, I found the site of a non-profit in Santa Cruz that, luckily, was sponsoring a Trichotillomania conference. There I found out that "Trich" is a chronic disorder that affects 9 million Americans and usually begins in early adolescence and results in an uncontrollable urge to pull out your hair -- eyebrows, eyelashes, the hair on your head.