Two years ago, while working towards an associates degree in human services, Lori Mier dove into a research project on Trichotillomania.
Trichotillomania is a disorder where people pull out the hair from their scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, pubic area, underarms, beard, chest, legs or other parts of the body. The result is noticeable bald patches.
Since elementary school, Mier, 30, said she has dealt with her own issues of hair pulling.
“I started pulling the hair that framed my face, eventually looking like I had a receding hair line,” she said in an email. “I remember the ridicule from my peers very well so I began to pull from my lashes and brows because I could better cover that up with makeup. I also remember that no one, not even I, understood why I pulled out my hair.”
When she moved to Roanoke in 2007, she looked for a support group, but didn’t find one.
The research project made her speak out about her own situation.
“At that time only a handful of people knew that I had dealt with trich for most of my life and so VWCC became a supportive place for me to start speaking out about this disorder,” she said. ” The thing that compelled me most about speaking out was that there was always someone in the audience that approached me after to tell me that they too suffered from this disorder.”
Last month Mier launched a support group to encourage others to talk about their own experiences and help each other.
Today, Mier is studying at the Radford University School of Social Work at the Higher Education Center in Roanoke, and has plans for a career in social work.
“I am certain that group work will become a big part of my social work career as I am very interested in it,” she said. “This support group is not a therapy group but a group for shared coping and emotional support. I recently felt that I am in a space where I can start a support group and after seeking advice from professors and a local clinician I was sure that I needed to start this group in our community.”
The group’s next meeting is Saturday, May 12 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Main Library in the Brody room on the third floor. After that, Mier said, the monthly meetings will be held on the first Saturday of the month. Here’s more information.