The Mighty Logo

How Wearing a Wig for Halloween Helped Me Cope With Hair Loss

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

A few years ago friends asked us to help chaperone their teenager’s Halloween party. Without thinking about it too long I said sure. Now I realize I went in order to be someone else for a night. Pretend to be a person with great hair who has never heard of Lyme disease. A costume party is a legit option to wear a wig, even a cheap wig, and assume a new role, right? Was this silly? Not for me. I needed this. I really wanted my hair back and to find a way to feel good.

As I got sicker and more inflamed, I watched my hair get snagged in my comb and in the drain with a sense of doom. There was a lot going on; I was fighting for my life. But underneath all this my hair loss nagged at me. My hairdresser suggested a new cut and color, but none of that did any good. So I went under cover. I wore a scarf or baseball cap nearly all the time to cover my scalp and keep my head warm. At home I would catch a glance of me hatless in the mirror and I would cringe. I had a really tough time owning my hair loss. But for Halloween, I could wear a wig.

Halloween: it’s the perfect time to try a wig.

I thought, what the heck, it would be fun to go to a party and play at having hair and being healthy. Sometimes you just gotta “fake it till you make it…” I have an extra big head, so finding a wig at a reasonable price is tough. I ordered a couple of synthetic ones that came in extra large. I ended up with a blond wig and an auburn one.

Who did I want to be? I thought I could grab a guitar and pull off Wynona Judd if I used a red wig. She has great hair.

woman smiling and wearing a red wig

When the Halloween party came up, I was still pretty sick from Lyme disease so going out for an evening was a pretty big deal. I was in a lot of pain, and not getting out too much. I almost cancelled at the last minute. I was a little nervous, but I walked up to the house all decked out in my new hair. My friend’s daughter answered the door and her jaw dropped in shock. She said, “Wow, I didn’t even recognize you. You look so young and pretty.” Out of the mouths of babes…

I almost burst into tears right then. I began to remember what it felt like to be healthy and have hair, and it felt good. No one had said I looked pretty in a long time. When you face is swollen, nails breaking and your hair is falling out, people don’t think to remind you that you are beautiful. I knew I needed to reclaim my health and my hair.

Hair Loss & Lyme

Hair loss was part of my journey with Lyme disease. It isn’t for everyone. You never know what you are going to have to deal with from a symptom standpoint. My experience and recovery have taught me to address issues as they come up without judgment. Many of my Lyme symptoms are scary and dangerous, like heart problems and loss of mobility, and others like breaking nails and hair loss are just disheartening.

No one is going to die from hair loss, but as a woman it just made me feel awful. Pain and swelling, people see that and know you are sick, but Lyme hair loss? Sometimes the guy in front of you at the supermarket just sees unfeminine and ugly. I felt the judgment and the shame.

There are many reasons that women can experience hair loss and a whole group of them flow out of the problems from Lyme disease. If you have hair loss coincident with Lyme disease, take action. Talk with a Lyme-literate doc or a member of your health care team and get to the bottom of your hair loss. Understanding the cause might just lead you to a simple solution.

Not all hair loss is permanent. Mine has grown back in pretty well. I am grateful. Even a bad wig felt better than no hair. I am glad I tried a wig to help me remember. I took action later that fall to help me recover my hair. I care for and enjoy my hair actively, because I know how I feel without it.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Originally published: October 24, 2017
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home