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Local high school student launching mental health-themed book

Daytona Shaffer, an 11th-grade student at St. Ignatius High School, is launching it’s a "Trich-y Life" on Saturday at the Waverley Library.
Daytona Shaffer
It’s a Trich-y Life details living with trichotillomania, a compulsive desire to pull out one’s own hair.

THUNDER BAY - A high school psychology credit can mean different things for different people.

Some see it as an easy A, while others are intellectually stimulated to pursue deeper thinking in their undergraduate.

Daytona Shaffer wrote a book.

“It’s called ‘20 times.’ So the teacher gives you 20 per cent of your final grade to do whatever you like. If you want to learn to breakdance, you can learn to breakdance, you just had to show the class at the end.”

Shaffer is an 11th-grade student from St. Ignatius High School, who turned an unusual opportunity into a book which explores her mental health journey.

It’s a Trich-y Life, is a play on the word trichotillomania, a compulsive desire to pull out one’s own hair. Shaffer was diagnosed with the impulse control disorder at a young age.

“When I entered Grade 11 I had long hair, and by January I ended up shaving it all off because I was 16 and balding.

Shaffer’s book examines her personal difficulty in being a teenager with bald spots, and how certain life events may have shaped her behaviour.

“I realized in this class I had the opportunity to tell people I really cut off all my hair.”

“(The book) was a little ambitious at first, but by week six I had a manuscript,” she said in an interview on Friday at St. Ignatius.

“When I started out I just wanted two or three copies for my room, and a few for my parents and friends.”

As Shaffer started writing and discussing the book, her peers turned into interested customers.

“There was sort of this want for the book,” she said. “Before I knew it I had 70 copies sold, so I ordered a few hundred more.”

Despite a writer’s block, Shaffer relieved stress with hot chocolate and said the experience helped her learn time management skills, pacing, and how to open up about herself.

“I think being vulnerable is very hard for anyone,” she said. “I did a project about trichotillomania in my class, and the response from the class was amazing. People had really genuine questions. They wanted to know more.”

Shaffer will be hosting a book launch that will run from 2-4 p.m. at the Waverley Library. Shaffer’s classmates will be on hand to present their own projects.

Michael Charlebois

About the Author: Michael Charlebois

Michael Charlebois was born and raised in Thunder Bay, where he attended St. Patrick High School and graduated in 2015. He attends Carleton University in Ottawa where he studies journalism.
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