Hi, my name is Gessie! I am 24 years old, from Long Island, New York. At the age of 11, I began pulling out my hair. Soon after I found out that this was called trichotillomania (trich), a compulsive disorder classified as a Body-Focused Repetitive Behavior (BFRB). When I was 14, I also started pulling out my eyebrows. Due to the hair loss that resulted from repeated pulling, I felt immense shame at first. I lived in secrecy and felt alone and isolated. At 16 years old I attended my first conference for people with BFRBs. Meeting others who understood what I was experiencing was life changing. It helped me shed all my shame and I learned to love myself unconditionally, no matter what my hair looks like. I came out of hiding and started sharing my story. I have gone through everything from wearing wigs and hairpieces, to short pixie cuts, to even shaving my head completely bald. These days, my natural curls have grown back, and though I still have no eyebrows, I am as confident as ever. I consider myself to be in recovery, even though I still pull my hair. I believe that recovery is a journey, not a destination, and that true recovery is simply choosing to keep going each day despite all my struggles. In addition to trich, I also live with bipolar disorder, ADHD, OCD, and I am on the autism spectrum. I have become very passionate about advocating for mental health and BFRBs and I want to help as many people as I can. Although life with mental illness isn't easy, I am thankful, in a way, for having these disorders, because they've helped me find my voice and have given me a platform to help others.
Here are some facts about me: I have two older twin sisters and a younger brother, and I am an aunt to my niece and nephew. I have five dogs and two turtles, and it's basically a zoo in my house! I have the most loving and supportive fiancé, Richard. My passion in life is working with kids. Since 2019, I have worked as a caregiver for children with developmental disabilities. Currently I work as a community habilitation specialist for a teenage girl with nonverbal autism, as well as for a boy with cerebral palsy. I love my jobs! I volunteered for a year at my parish's school as a classroom aide in nursery and Pre-K classes. And for six years, I taught religious education classes for first graders at my church.
I love to travel, even by myself, and I have taken several solo trips. It's always fun exploring new places and I feel a sense of freedom and independence. My favorite trips I've taken have been to California (multiple areas of the state), Toronto Canada, and Miami Beach. My happy place is at the beach and I revel in the sunshine. Summer is my favorite season and I wish I lived somewhere with more months of warm weather.
I have a knack for writing, and combine my two passions of writing and mental health advocacy by writing articles about my experience with mental illness and trichotillomania. I have contributed to a few different online media outlets. You can find all of my media contributions here. I hope my writing will let others know they aren't alone and inspire them to love their true selves. In September 2022, I published two books about trichotillomania: a memoir titled Triumphant Trichster, and a kids book titled A Trichy Situation.
My favorite food is pizza, my favorite dessert is apple crisp, and I appreciate a good chai latte.I enjoy baking, and my specialties are banana bread and apple cake. My favorite TV shows are Stranger Things, Unsolved Mysteries, and game shows. Some of my favorite music artists are Taylor Swift, Lorde, Bleachers, and The Strokes, all of whom I have seen in concert. I am interested in cryptozoology, aliens, and UFOs. I consider myself a huge fan of the cryptid Mothman. I have even taken a road trip to the small town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia where Mothman originated. Turtles have always been my favorite animal. I am obsessed with the color pink and Vera Bradley brand bags and accessories. I have a good eye for style and love dressing up. Right now, I am navigating my 20s, working on learning to be more independent, and expanding my horizons traveling to new places. My ultimate goal in life is to simply be happy and to have a lasting impact on others. I really believe I can change the world, and that is exactly what I intend to do. I'm just getting started!