Mobile App Designer Shares Her Struggle With Hair-Pulling Disorder at TEDxFargo

Her struggles led her to create a successful business

FARGO, N.D. — With an audience of about 2,000 people, TEDxFargo is a great platform to raise awareness.

That’s what Aneela Idnani did to teach people about a condition called trichotillomania.

It’s a compulsive hair pulling disorder that left her in hiding for years, afraid people would find out about her bare eyebrows.

“I skipped out on pool parties, I skipped out on trying out for the high school basketball team, all because I was afraid my eye makeup would wash away and my secret would be revealed. I don’t want anyone to live like that,” she said.

It was so much of a secret that even her husband didn’t know… until he caught her without brow makeup.

“It was just that one morning I went to go grab my eye pencil and he was standing right there and he was like, ‘what is going on?'”

That’s when they decided to come up with a solution and create a company called HabitAware.

They have product called Keen, which is a smart bracelet that tracks compulsive behavior.

“For 10 years I thought I was just wrong and damaged and kind of messed up. Then I realized and came to learn it’s a mental health condition. This is something other people struggle with and I’m not alone in this,” Idnani said.

“I really enjoyed her presentation because she brought up something a lot of people have never heard of and don’t understand, and the big thing she wanted to push was for understanding what she’s dealing with,” TEDxFargo attendee Morgan Kastner said.

Idnani says her disorder has shown her that everything happens for a reason, and that acknowledging the darkness is the first step in finding the light.

“Because we’re so focused on hiding those behaviors we lose sight of who we are, and we don’t go after the things we love or the things we want to be doing, because we’re afraid of being found out, and we’re not living life. It’s very rarely fatal, but we’re not living,” she said.

After turning her struggle into a success story, she’s showing that innovation can happen at the crossroads of mental health and business.

The HabitAware bracelet was named one of TIME Magazine’s Best Inventions in 2018. For more information on the company, click here.

Categories: Local News, North Dakota News