Hair is everywhere. Not just literally (and personally speaking) on my bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom floor, but all around us wherever we look. Our hair is one of the most important pieces of our own identity; whether it is short, long, spiked, or even bald… it tends to be the first thing people notice when they look at you — sometimes, sadly, to an extreme level.
I grew up in a family with long, thick-ass hair and was always the girl with the long hair. Growing up during preschool and kindergarten, boys would literally follow me around and see me as this superior symbol of strength, obsessing over my hair. If I graduated to the big girl potty, they’d want to follow me. If I climbed the monkey bars, they’d want to as well. My hair had always been to my waist or my bottom; it was truly my identity and deep inside, I know it always will be. Even if I temporarily shaved all my hair off, I will always be the girl with the long hair; but at the same ironic (and maybe hypocritical sounding) time… I’ve not attached to it anymore though.
To this day, I’m still not exactly sure I can pinpoint what fully happened but one day…it simply started falling out to my own surprise and mental demise. It would be like Rapunzel going bald (what else is the girl honestly known for?). I went to a bunch of doctors not long after and was diagnosed with a scalp condition called Telogen Effluvium; a (mostly) reversible condition in which hair falls out by the root. The problem though, was that no one could figure out where exactly it was coming from. It can typically be caused by a shock to the system; whether that be childbirth, physical or emotional trauma, surgery, extreme stress, physical illnesses, etc. And the issue was that I had multiple root causes and have still not found the exact reason 3 years later.
I feel in my gut and have had many people including doctors, naturopaths, psychologists, therapists, loved ones, and many others truly believe that it is a mix of physical and (mostly) emotional trauma; it was as if my body truly imploded. My mind went into overdrive and made itself physically sick and lost everything all at once (in other aspects of my life), so at this point, I’m sadly not that surprised. After what felt like months and then years, I couldn’t find the strength to accept it. Hair was who I was. Hair was my love. It was my support blanket. When I was a little girl and got scared, I would hide in my hair; it was my room, my safety, and my security. So many showers had been spent having massive breakdowns pulling it out in handfuls, praying to God, and to this day it’s still not exactly pleasant but I’m more so indifferent…with a dash of acceptance at times (hopefully).
My hair had always had a root connection to my father also; my father loved my long hair and if I no longer had that… would he still even see me as beautiful? Would I still be pretty? It might seem like a silly thought but there’s still a small part inside of me that feels that way. After so much research I came across so many people (especially men) that hated short hair on women and it continued to push the repetitive belief in my head that a woman with short hair or no hair at all is simply not beautiful. Not feminine. Maybe cute if she had the right face or body…but if even that. So much of the time it takes losing something important to you to realize what you had and then to learn to simply live on without it and for me, that was my hair.
I eventually came across a whole platform of women online (and some in real life, too) that went through this exact disheartening experience. It was like this huge, sad secret club that no one could possibly understand the emotional burden of until you are living it. But one of the things that began to rub me the wrong way one day was that it continued to be all they talked about, all they suffered over, and all they identified themselves as. All these sad, lovely women brutally beat themselves down for not looking how they or others wanted them to look. I was, in no way, holier than thou, and yet…I wanted to be more than that feeling. I didn’t want to continue to hurt so severely over this; I wanted to break up with the idea of who I thought I was, who I’d been seen as, and who I should be.
While I feel deeply that it’s not permanent, for now, while this is still happening, I didn’t want to continue to shift this tough experience into harsher resentment and anger towards the cold, hard truth of my reality; that this is really happening. I am losing my hair. And to a certain extent, it is okay and I’ll be fine. It has become yet another true test of my inner strength and patience to sit down with myself, change my perspective about this and realize that my body is ringing its alarm bell and telling me to continue to calm (the f***) down; to continue healing and take it easy. 18 years of extreme, consistent trauma to my mind will understandably put my body in overdrive and will take years to heal. And to expect more of that would be unfair to me. I am alive and breathing and am getting better every day — and at the end of the day, what more could I ask for?
While I still mourn and accept this loss, it has been the smack-in-the-face realization by looking myself in the mirror, that has made me laugh in tears at the small box I have buried myself in for something I cannot control. Something that doesn’t even begin to define an inch of who I am. How unkind could I be to myself to think that I am nothing but an empty, ugly shell for not marking off everything on my checklist of : How to be Beautiful? And as I continue to hold space for myself to feel all that I feel towards this…I now at least realize that I am not less of a woman or a person for any of this. I’m still me.
#MentalHealth #HairLoss #hashimotos #thyroid #Depression #Anxiety #Hope #Happiness #philisophical #telogeneffli