Be brave, you’re not alone, says Melksham student

This Is Wiltshire: Emma Simonsen wants to help other sufferers Emma Simonsen wants to help other sufferers

Teenager Emma Simonsen has teamed up with a national charity to launch a campaign to raise awareness of trichotillomania, a condition that causes her to pull out her own hair.

The 17-year-old of Willow Close, Melksham, wants more people to know about the psychological condition.

Trichotillomania compells people to pull out the hair on their head and, in some cases, on other parts of their body such as eyebrows or eyelashes. Emma, an A-level student at The Corsham School, is working with Winchester-based charity, Fixers, which supports young people aged 16-25 to tackle issues of concern to them.

With its help she is hoping to create a website to help other young people understand the condition.

She said: “There is a real lack of information and understanding around the issue.

“I hid it from my family for about a year and a half.

“I would cover up any patches that I had made and throw away any hair that fell on the floor.

“I was very ashamed of it.”

Emma first developed a fascination with her hair when she was 12 .

She said: “It started with me breaking off split ends – I don’t know exactly when it changed to pulling out the hairs.

“I was desperate and panicking because I thought it wasn’t normal.

“I did some research and learnt that it’s a known condition and that I wasn’t alone.

“If there’s someone out there in a similar situation, I want them to understand that they’re not alone.

“There are other people like them out there and they’re not weird – they just need to be able to talk to someone who understands just what they are going through.”

Emma has been going to a counsellor for about a year, which she said had been very helpful and much of her hair has grown back.

Fixers has helped other young people campaign on issues such as self-harm, suicide and bullying.

For more information visit: www.fixers.org.uk

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