In the last few weeks, it seems that everyone's been using Instagram's new 'ask a question' feature in their stories. While for most of us it's just been a bit of fun to keep us entertained on long train rides, some have been using this feature as a launchpad to have important conversations about mental health.
After inviting her Instagram followers to ask her a question, Victoria's Secret model, Sara Sampaio, has spoken out about living with a mental health condition, trichotillomania.
Responding to a question about her eyebrow routine, the Angel revealed in her Instagram Stories how the condition affects her everyday life.
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"Well I try not to touch them, but unfortunately I suffer from trichotillomania and I pull on them! 😭 so I have lots of gaps in them, I just use a eyebrow pencil to fill out the gaps!" she wrote.
Her candid discussion about trichotillomania encouraged fans to reach out with messages of understanding and support for the model, who later responded with a lengthier post on her Instagram Stories. The posts have since been shared by fans to Twitter, amplifying this important message.
"For those who don't know what it [trichotillomania] is, it's also known as a hair pulling disorder. It's an impulse control disorder characterized by a long term urge that results in the pulling out of one's hair," she wrote.
Speaking openly about the condition, Sampaio revealed that her trichotillomania started when she was 15, beginning with pulling out her eyelashes and then her eyebrows. While Sampaio wrote that she no longer pulls her eyelashes, trichotillomania continues to affect her eyebrows, which she fills in with an eyebrow pencil as part of her daily eyebrow routine.
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While it's reported that 4% of women are affected by the condition, there is a general lack of the awareness surrounding trichotillomania. Though the exact cause of the condition is unknown, it is commonly exasperated by stress. In her Instagram Stories, Sampaio cited stress as a key factor behind her trichotillomania admitting that "the episodes are a lot worse when I'm under stress or when I'm not doing anything like watching TV or reading a book".
With her message reaching thousands of fans, Sara Sampaio's frank and open discussion of her condition has touched many who are affected by trichotillomania and raised awareness around this seldom-discussed mental health issue.
Explaining that she manages her impulses with a supplement called NAC, Sara asked fellow sufferers talk to a doctor before trying any new forms of treatment. Most importantly, she urged her fellow not to be ashamed for the condition and not to be ashamed to talk about it.
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"This is a disorder that people can't just simply stop! But being understanding and kind goes a long way! Much love to everyone," she wrote. Sara, we couldn't have put it better ourselves.