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Why I'm Considering Relaxing My Hair as a Black Woman With ADHD

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Structure, routines, and commitment are the three things needed to really excel at having natural hair.

Structure, routines, and commitment are, of course, the three things I struggle with due to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

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When I first transitioned into being natural, natural hair and its maintenance was ultimately one of my hyper fixations. I loved it so much, and I’m happy I did because through that I learned to accept parts of me and my Blackness that I never had before. I needed to go through that in order to be who I am today.

That being said, who I am today struggles with her hair in ways I don’t think I would if I were neurotypical.

A washday can be anywhere from two hours to six (or more) hours. I’m not a braider so styling can take 45 minutes to two hours. Obscene amounts of patience are needed if I haven’t detangled my hair in a while, and when the ADHD brain is in “go” mode, it’s not as big of a deal. Sadly for me, my ADHD brain loves to stall out and avoid all of this for as long as it can, which ultimately just makes it worse in the long run. Split ends get worse, fairy knots become my greatest enemy, and don’t get me started on what it’s like to fight a natural forming dread loc.

Growing up, hair wasn’t a “thing,” because I was relaxed. Every few weeks my mother would take me to the salon and I would get my roots touched up, so I was never introduced to my natural hair until I was old enough to do it myself at 18. Even though in my teenage years my hair was brittle and severely damaged, when my relaxed hair was being properly taken care of beforehand, life just seemed easier. Washing my hair was quick. I didn’t have to twist my hair ahead of time, and plan the perfect time to take my hair down so I could have day two twist out hair and not day one. It’s a lot, and honestly too much for my ADHD brain to handle sometimes.

Getting a relaxer again feels controversial, because it feels like I’m betraying my race or culture, even though I know I’m not and before some non-Black person tries to console me, don’t. You don’t understand the weight that comes with hair for Black people, especially Black women. Blackness is versatile and multifaceted, and I would be perming it not because I hate my natural hair or because I’m trying to assimilate into whiteness like I was conditioned to do when I was younger, but just because of how time-consuming my hair can be in my own life, and how it doesn’t play well with my brain.

I love my natural hair so much. I love the texture and how springy my coils are. I love that my hair is so uniquely me with different patterns all over my head (and not just because of that one silk press I got years ago that caused some heat damage). All of this is true, but if your brain isn’t built to maintain something you love, does it really matter?

Yes, I have some hacks for maintaining my hair even with ADHD, but as great as these hacks are they aren’t foolproof solutions. There are pros and cons to having my normal virgin hair texture and to getting a perm, but in these moments where I’m stuck in ADHD paralysis and I’m in a standoff with a wide tooth comb, some deep conditioner, and a tub of Blue Magic, I can’t help but think that maybe it’s the better option.

If you’re natural and struggling with your hair because of your ADHD, you aren’t alone. At the end of the day, it’s your hair, and what you do with it is nobody’s business but your own. Make your hair work for you, whatever that looks like.

Getty image by katleho Seisa

Originally published: July 21, 2022
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