“To be or not to be,” is the question that most women, going through hair loss issues, face on a daily basis. Do they let their bald spots “be,” allowing them to dominate and control their lives, or do they muster up enough courage to take control and choose for their hair to “not be” around any longer, by shaving it off? I have some insight into this issue, and want you to feel assured that you are not alone in your struggle. Be it cancer and chemo treatments, alopecia or trichotillomania, losing your hair is difficult process for any person to endure. Let me start by sharing a little bit about my Bald is Beautiful: My Journey to Becoming story with you.
When I was 13, my mom was braiding my hair and found a bald spot, the size of quarter, on the back of my head. I learned that Alopecia was an autoimmune disorder that caused my body to produce too many white blood cells, which think hair is an infection and kills it off (Alopecia is the manipulation of one gene that has been altered and there are NO cures to change this gene back to its original form). I had Alopecia Areata, which is where you lose only spots of hair on your head. By the age of 16, I was receiving between 60-80 injections in the hairless areas, on my scalp, at each appointment. This was a painful process, during and after treatment. The cortisone would produce lumps on my head that were very tender, making it difficult to sleep at night. Just driving by the dermatologist’s office made me so nervous that I would make myself sick, thinking about the shots.
When I was 20, I was in a car accident that shocked my system, even more. The process of watching my hair fall out, one strand at a time seemed to be the most brutal, agonizing task that any woman can endure.
“I pried myself out of bed and turned to straighten the covers when I noticed something on my pillow. I felt the old sting of recognition. I stiffened, not wanting to believe what I was looking at. I wanted to scream, but sat down on the bed and started out the window, beyond my parents. My mother took one look at me and left her chair. She saw it and said a soft, “Oh, no.” Her arms folded around me. I leaned softly into her and became her little girl again. On the pillow was large clump of my hair. My body healed, and bruises disappeared. But every shower became another torment. Every shampoo, however gentle my approach, claimed more hair. Shampooing less frequently didn’t help either. On the way to the shower, I bargained with God. If he would let my hair stop falling out, I would change my life. He was silent. Nothing worked. The hair kept coming out. On the days that I washed it, I made sure nobody else was around. The embarrassment of exposing my bald spots, even in a community shower (in our dorm) where we were all somewhat vulnerable, was too great. This took some effort, and patience. I often made four or five attempts before finding the showers empty.
I can’t remember feeling so helpless and destitute. In the shower, I rinsed gobs of hair off my fingers, and watched them cascade to the drain. I closed my eyes and leaned up against the wall, void of hope, of good will, void of all joy, or any promise of joy. The water flowed over me and I prayed. I bargained and I begged until I realized water was rising up to my ankles. The drain was clogged with my hair. I picked the soft mass off the drain cover and was wrapping it in a paper towel when another girl walked in. I dropped the hair on the floor and quickly made a turban with my towel…….” “I approached the mirror, dropped the towel, and combed my hair, of what was left of it. A stranger looked back at me. Or something wild. “I don’t know who you are. And I hate you. Go away.”
I became the queen of comb-over. That was me. I suddenly had empathy for old vain men. The more hair I lost, the more elaborate I twisted and turned the remaining strands. I plastered them in a wavy rows and sections. I held everything in place with bottles of White Rain.” “ I had lost so much hair that there was no way to conceal it any longer. All my delight in perfection turned to loathing and with the identical strength. It’s funny how that works. How perfection, or the dream of perfection, and vanity are so intimately acquainted, one with the other. And just how close rage lies beneath it all. “I hate you! I hate you!” This was my new mantra. I was lost. Suddenly lost. Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest… Oh, if this was only a fairy tale, it might promise me some happier ending. But I couldn’t see one. I couldn’t see much of anything. Only this savage lost thing in my mirror.
Disgust turned to fury. I jabbed the point of a rat-tailed comb into my scalp. “I hate you!” I jabbed until blood ran into my eyes. A shadow fell over my heart.”
Isn’t that heart wrenching? I share this excerpt from my book to help people that may be going through a similar situation, as I did. I want to help these people avoid the pitfalls that I fell into, and help you move past these moments, more gracefully. I went back to school to obtain my Master’s degree and PhD work in Psychology to be better equipped to help people, like myself. I want to encourage anyone who is losing their hair to “take control of your hair loss” by shaving off the remaining hairs. As you read, in my story, there is nothing worse than feeling like you are out of control. If you are proactive, and control your hair loss before it controls you, you have the winning factor to happiness and success. Don’t deny the inevitable and try to pass through the hurdles that affected my life. We all need to go through the five stages of grief, when we are losing our hair; trust me, the sooner you get to the acceptance phase, the better off you will be!