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Why I Dyed My Hair Brown the Day I Decided to Take Medication for My Mental Illness


I always wanted to be a redhead. There was something about them, they seemed so unique, so special. They seemed to have more value than me. I had dark, dark brown hair growing up. And there was something I genuinely despised about that. I wanted to feel beautiful and unique. I wanted to have value. And I believed, deep down, that my value was not intrinsic. I had to earn it, somehow. I had to show you I was special or you would never think I was.

So when I was about 21, I began to lighten my hair over a long period of time, and I began to use henna as a way to make it a bright, copper red. And I lightened my eyebrows every couple weeks. After some time passed, I could pass for a genuine ginger. I was already very pale and freckled, so if you added the copper hair and blonde brows, I could convince you. But man, it was a lot of work.

I didn’t want to bleach my hair all at once so I lightened it with the sun exposure, heat and a Sun-In solution. My hair had gotten a lot lighter and redder naturally as I got older, but it wasn’t that beautiful bright copper color I wanted. So this system significantly lessened the damage to my hair that bleaching would have done but still made that natural-looking red possible. But it was not the easy way to do it. It took commitment. I did that for almost three years. I looked so natural as a redhead that people rarely questioned if I was born that way. Well, I wasn’t. I was born with plain ol’ brown hair.

The day I decided to take the plunge and take medication for my mental illness was the day I dyed my hair back to a dark brown. This was not an accident. This was intentional. This was about self acceptance. This was about declaring my intrinsic worth completely separate from anything I had to offer in performance.

I battled the decision to take medication for over a year. I didn’t want to. I was scared. It wasn’t really accepted in my family growing up, and that had been beaten into me, in a way. I wanted to believe I was “strong enough” on my own.

But medication isn’t about strength. It isn’t a crutch. It isn’t a failure. It’s grace. It’s that little step up your brain denied you. It can make it possible for you to be everything you can be, without being shackled to a physical deterrent. It can make it possible for you to simply be you.

So, here I am. Pale. Freckled. Brown hair. Haven’t had my hair this color for 10 years. And I used to hate it. It was repulsive to me. It isn’t now. It’s beautiful. Do you know why? Because it’s me. Authentic, real, no pretense. No need to create uniqueness in myself, just an acceptance of the uniqueness that is already there. Just me.

woman with brown hair

And that’s a beautiful thing.