The first time I was aware of pulling my hair out in a big way was in a year 8 IT class. I sat at the computer, only using my right hand, and my left gradually but unstoppably pulled out an entire inch of hair behind my left ear. At the end of the lesson, I stood up and saw the pile of hair on the floor next to me, and I almost burst into tears.
Since then, I've struggled on and off with it, mainly through periods of stress or anxiety. It never really stops, but pulling out five hairs a day is better than fifty or five hundred, and some days now I don't pull at all.
The biggest problem I faced early on was the almost non-existent knowledge and support of the condition. Nobody knew what it was (even doctors are uncertain as to what it is) and nobody understood it. To be a scared, depressed 12 year old with no way to further understand why your body has conspired against you is horrible, and I never want anyone else to go through what I went through with it.
Shaving my head may seem ironic, especially considering that many of my bald patches have only recently grown back in, but it is a very important issue for me, and this seems like a big enough event to help raise awareness, not only of this secretive disorder, but also of mental illness in general, something that is stigmatised, and also ignored, a lot more than it should be.
Please donate what you can.