Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

My Son shaved off his eyebrows


#1

My son has recently been diagnosed with schizophrenia affective disorder. I’m just learning about it.

He shaved his entire head and eyebrows off the other day. It broke my heart. He couldn’t describe why he did it. It was impulsive. Not due to hearing voices.

It was the first time I could actually SEE his mental illness… It was clear.

I’m just wondering if anyone has similar experiences.

Thanks,
Sangria


#2

I have not had that experience w my loved one.
But wanted to say that his hair will grow back😊Don’t worry too much. Hopefully this delusion will pass and you can find out what is going on with him.


#3

That happened with my son, too! Just his head, though. I helped him and did it for him so it wouldn’t be too short. But he wanted it shorter so he did it himself some more. That was the day (that evening) he was hospitalized for the first time. I was glad because he needed to be watched and given the right medication.

Did your son just do it yesterday? Does he pace or run around in the house?


#4

Mine lets his hair grow long, it curls as it grows. On some days he rubs his head frequently - as though his head hurts him - which makes his hair stand out and gives him an Einstein hair look. He will suddenly cut it himself, super short, using scissors.


#5

My son has done the same!


#6

Yes my son did this too, at the beginning of the illness. I remember how hard it was seeing him everyday…a visual reminder of his brain disorder…a deep sadness. But, it did grow back. He only did it that once, and looking back I realize that everything he did then was a reminder of what he and I were dealing with. It was just another symptom. Stay strong.


#7

Our son gets dandruff really easily, which then turns into a smelly skin condition. The dr gave him a shampoo that helps.

BUT, he does not like to bathe.

Then, he will.
And he will insist I shave his hair off.

Now! It’s hurting.
It probably is.

He never has long hair. It’s always shaved.
He does complain that he got the crappy genetics. His brother is prettier, thinner, smarter, healthier, and normal.


#8

You have to wonder what is it with the hair? I wonder if females do the same thing or is this a guy thing?


#9

I am curious? Why would he have access to something that he could do that with? Our safety plan is to lock all that stuff up at home. Not judging, just considering safety. Razors are easy to use for self harm.


#10

My brother is also dx…he shaved off ONE eyebrow.

Never told us why.


#11

Everyone with the brain disease scz isn’t self harming.


#12

Apparently this is not uncommon. My son has repeatedly shaved his head. It has been so unnerving to me and his father that I finally mentioned it to my own therapist, and she was not at all surprised, saying his can be one of the manifestations of the disorder. I haven’t yet further researched it but will look into it more now. Meanwhile, my telling him that it does not suit him, that he has a beautiful head of hair, and pleas to not do it again have all fallen on deaf ears. It is impossible to try to reason.


#13

P.S. In response to the comment about safety measures: My son is not self-harming, so there has been no reason to lock up his razor. In any event, he had the barber do the shaving each time.


#14

That’s good to know. It wasn’t judgment at all, just a concern for safety. From what I’ve learned, there’s usually an underlying delusion or hallucination triggering the behavior. Not always is it something the individual can recognize or verbalize. I’ve read reports of everything from insects on the skin to fear of germs to pain from the hair and more.


#15

Thank you for your responses. My son has never self harmed and I hadn’t even thought about locking up razors or such. But I will keep that in mind. His eyebrows are growing back and he’s expressed that he doesn’t plan to shave them again. He did say he wanted to start off the New Year “clean”. So, I guess that was his way of showing commitment in an actionable way. I’m open to learning everything I can about this illness. I appreciate the sharing.

He had a job interview the other day… I can’t even imagine what the interviewers may have thought. I struggled with giving him ideas about lying about the eyebrows. I told him to tell them that either - “he lost a bet and had to shave them off” or “he shaved them off to support someone going through cancer treatment”. He decided not to even mention the eyebrows and neither did the interviewers. He hasn’t received a call back yet .

So now I feel shame… new diagnosis and I don’t want to start lying or teaching him to lie… It’s something I really need to think about more.

Thank you,
Sangria.


#16

@Sangria

Please, please, if you can, spare yourself any feelings of shame. You were trying to help him, we never do know in this business what will help them navigate the world. You gave him advice that any other parent would have given their child - say if they had accidentally had their eyebrows burned off drinking a flaming drink a friend who wasn’t a bartender made. Not me in my youth, but someone I knew, seriously not me, okay it was Jeb’s dad.

We just have to roll with our possible errors (we never know for sure sometimes) and keep going in this business.


#17

@hope Thank you for that laugh (about Jeb’s Dad) between that and the shoe comments - my morning has had several laughs!


#18

I tend to believe that being honest is the most important thing. Ultimately, it’s no one’s business why he shaved his head or his eyebrows and most people won’t ask.


#19

Okay…I’ve just gone from crying to laughing!
Thank you!!!

I forgot…husband shaved his hair off when he was waiting trial. NOT GOOD. He’s a large man, with large, dark and can be quite fierce looking eyes. NOT GOOD. Scared the courtroom and blew me away. Really? Someone let him shave his head while incarcerated? He was on lock down/suicide watch!! He said he thought the judge would understand he was “protesting”. No he didn’t…he was scared dude.

Back to the subject of shame and “excuses”.
I found myself in an odd situation yesterday. Son had appointment for blood test. He was “off”…he just is, I’m used to it. BUT, I could see that the staff didn’t get it, so I said “My son has scz…he’s loopy today.” After that, things went really smoothly. Son didn’t know his birth date, and without embarrassing him, they just turned and got the info from me.

Sadly, it was much LATER, that I wondered if I embarrass my son by doing this? How would I feel? He says he’s fine with it, but I still don’t know if it’s “right”.

Eye brows and hair…who knew?
It’s definitely something the scz people I know have done.

Son says his hair hurts. The dandruff issue is easier to medicate when his hair is short.

I let him cut his hair…if he wants to. I figured it was better to have him know how to use the razor, or to comprehend that it’s actually hard to shave all the hair completely and still look nice, while he’s clear headed. We took pictures so he could see what the back of his head looked like, and video taped. I won’t share them here as he shirtless and would be embarrassed (that I DO know!!)

Aside: when he’s under suicide watch, then the razors come out of the bathroom, knives are discreetly tucked away (knife block), etc. We struggle with the idea of locking the doors to the outside during these time periods…but do. It’s better in our opinion, but requires both parents to be aware.

Medications are always under watch.

BUT, our son will hit himself. Can’t stop that. He also runs into walls and traffic. That can’t be “under lock and key”. We just have to watch. Hence: suicide watch.


#20

My son is 24 and has shaved off his eyebrows, lower legs, arms and underarms many times. sometimes he lets those areas grow back a bit but as always goes back to removing most hairs with scissors one by one. Even though he has been on the antipsychotic Seroquel for over a year, nothing said can convince him that it is bad and weird looking. I’ve always cut his hair on his head for him but as of the last couple of years he wants to grow it out and it is THE most important thing to him. So much so that he packed his backpack, left his comfortable paid apartment and flew off to live on the streets as a homeless in Honolulu, when I insisted on him getting his hair cut. Needless to say it is a strong delusional conviction. Sorry I don’t have any advice on how to stop this strange behavior. I will let you know if Abilify helps cuz that is the one he is trying next