The Divided Line – Balancing Normalcy and Reality

by admin on August 22, 2010

It’s been quite some time since I’ve written a blog post. Now all at once I have several things I want to write about, but I’ll separate them into different posts, and play catch up that way.

Something I find myself confronted with from time to time, is balancing the things and activities in my life that I deem to be normal, with the reality of how my hair loss colors almost every situation.

Examples

A Run Is Not Just a Run

Running… turns out I love to run! Over the last few months as my asthma was improving I took to the streets with my running shoes and started pounding the pavement (quite literally) and realized, hog diggity dog, I LOVE RUNNING. I’m a slow runner, and I do have asthma, but I love it just the same. What I don’t love is being outdoors with sweat pouring out of my head highlighting how thin my hair really CAN look. So my solution is wearing a nike running headband, which is excellent at absorbing sweat and hiding the hairline and top of head. I also use a wide array of different sporty adidas and nike caps. I guess hair loss has caused me to be a tad bit more stylish out of necessity. :) I’d love to run sans anything on my head from time to time, but I wouldn’t be feeling the wind blowing through my hair, it would be more of a draft penetrating my scalp. So, no thanks.

Dinner Is Not Just Dinner

I’ve danced around tables at restaurants, playing musical chairs, grabbing the one that has the least overhead lighting. I’ve nearly knocked over waiters diving for the chosen one, the one that will least likely show to others that I’m losing my hair. I’ve enlisted my fiancé in this process as well, so he’s on the hunt for picking me a good one too, always asking me if I’m okay with the seat. I’ve changed tables at restaurants several times over, looking like a nut, because each table seemingly had more overhead light than the one prior. It’s dinner, it should be dark… really dark, like I want someone to put a flashlight to my menu. Ha ha.

Buying Clothes Is An Exercise In Visual Discipline

I’ve perfected the art of trying on clothes in dressing rooms without actually looking at my face. Neck down only. Unless it’s the Gap, god bless the Gap, whoever designed their dressing rooms definitely has hair loss.
——
The list can go on and on, but I suppose my point is, in time we learn to adapt. In an effort to maintain our sanity, our minds adjust to a new “normal.” We have to adapt and learn to work with the hand we have been dealt. I know in time my hair loss cards will include glue, tape, a hair piece, and possibly a razor, but I’m not there just yet. When I am, it will take time to adjust, as every step always has, but history has taught me that we are so much stronger than we give ourselves credit for, and I’ll be okay. Make no mistake, I still get sad, I still have my down days, I shed more today than I have been lately, and it all does affect me… but the length of time it affects me is so much shorter, my turn over period is much quicker. Thank Goodness!

Several things have happened since I last wrote, including a 3rd trip to see Dr. Greco for PRP therapy, I’ll be writing about all that soon.

I wish you all a wonderful and beautiful Sunday! Get out there and live your life, don’t let your hair loss rob you of that. Make adjustments as necessary, there will always be those for sure, but after pretty much losing out on my entire 20’s I want to encourage others to not make that same mistake. Those years, I’ll never get back.

Cheers to moving forward ( I have my glass of wine, do you have yours?)

XOXO

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Becca August 22, 2010 at 5:37 pm

Amen, for the first time since I lost my hair, my husband and I went camping for 4 days. It was tricky wearing a wig because it was so hot and humid. But I wore a pixie wig so no maintanence and much cooler. Then I would sometimes just throw a bandana over the wig if it was windy. Slowly, I’m starting to do the things I did before the hairloss. No rollercoasters yet, but who knows, one day it might happen. Thanks for the update:)

Karman August 22, 2010 at 5:50 pm

Well Said! I too have found myself in many of the situations you have described. Today I left my house without any dermamatch for a quick trip to the grocery store. One I never go to and was a little out of my way. Of course, I ran in to someone from high school! Never fails, right? The first thought in my mind was “aaaahhhhh, my bald head is exposed!” The good news is that I can laugh at my inesecurity! I love your positive voice and am thankful to read about your journey and gather strength for my own!

Amanda August 22, 2010 at 6:42 pm

Hey Y~

It’s been a long time since I’ve been on this site, and it’s so good to hear your thoughts. Your humor and resilience has always been so refreshing, and I thank you for your honesty, vulnerability, and mentoring spirit to all of us here!! You are right — we cannot let our hair loss steal away the moments in our lives….even if it does get in the way sometimes. :)

mb August 22, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Thanks for blogging and for offering a human and humane reflection on this hideous hairloss process. It helps to hear how others are getting along and beyond it. I am still at the stage where I am curtailing activities…I don’t go swimming much anymore, and once I’ve worn a hat, it ain’t coming off. I look forward to camping sometime in the future, again, but wonder how I’ll handle my head. I suspect there are a lot of bandanas in my future. But, reading these updates and responses at least makes me feel there is a future…

Donna August 23, 2010 at 3:22 am

For the last 4 years now I have been wearing a wig and doing most everything . I really hate wearing it out in the sun . Your head really sweats underneth it , but that is the only way I will go outside or even go away. I stated to have a few small spots growing again , my head is competely bald and I am so ashamed of the fact , you think by now being 4 years without hair I should be use to it but I’m not . It hurts me everyday when I look in the mirrow at myself and I ask why did this happen to me , what did I do to deserve this . Even how I sit here typing and crying , It really stresses me out all the time and no one know any answers . Sorry somedays I need to vent .But I have been on a scrambler at a park , whitewater rafting , in some very windy places and my wig has stay on but I guess maybe I have been lucky . But wearing a wig is like I said the only way I go out . If you buy a wig , buy a human hair one , at least you can style it in different styles. You all have a good week .
Donna

Rachel August 23, 2010 at 3:25 am

Thank you for blogging again…
Your post reminds me of when I used to cut straight bangs [from high up, my version of a comb-over] to hide my hairline, but the wind, or even a slight breeze always caused problems, and pasting down the hair with spray would clog the scalp.

I went to a party recently, and had the usual anxieties, particularly when people kept taking photographs and all I could think of was that the flash would expose my scalp! But you know, given all the 40-somethings there, with their faces full of botox and fillers, hoping their little secrets were subtle and not obvious, led me to realise that most women, and some guys, were all suffering their own anxieties in one way or another. Bright red lipstick and a big friendly smile can often change the point of focus, and what people remember about you.

That said, I’m still struggling with my hair loss too. I’ve given up on all medications [spiro had too many disgusting side effects, and Rogaine was just foul and neither worked anyway], and I’m just taking biotin, and a multi when I remember and eating well. Nioxin cleanser and scalp treatment, and a completely organic SLS-free conditioner seem to be very gentle, with the Nioxin thickening the hair a tiny bit. I also do a deep condition with coconut oil and amla [Indian gooseberry] powder, and only dye my hair with henna. After years of the destructiveness of chemical dyes, henna really makes a difference, and is also said to promote scalp health. There is a brilliant website hennaforhair dot com – for different colour mixes, instructions and recipes.

I really believe stress is a huge contributor, as well as chemicals, food additives and pollution. I check every woman I see for the status of their scalps, and there are so many who appear to have thinning hair of various degrees. Was female hair loss so prevalent 50 or 100 years ago? I wonder.

SUSAN August 23, 2010 at 3:37 am

Great post. Just curious – the Dr. Greco you mentioned, is he from Florida? I’m in a shed and growth phase – all at once – most confusing and non attractive but i was approached by a Dr. Greco for treatment. Always the skeptic regarding “cures for my alopecia” I did not take him up on his offer for a free consult. When I saw you mention his name, I could not help wonder if one in the same.

Beth Stein August 23, 2010 at 6:18 am

I too, have done all the things you mention in your post — especially the trick of not looking in the mirror when trying on clothes or coming out of the shower. I know that seeing my scalp will upset me, so avoiding mirrors when my hair is not “done” is just a coping mechanism.
I just returned from a vacation to Costa Rica and didn’t let my hair loss keep my from doing anything although I spent the entire time being very self-conscious since it is rainy season and constant rain, drizzle and humidity made it impossible to control my hair. I decided I could never live there — imagine rejecting a whole country based on how your hair looks! — but it’s true. Anyway, thanks for your posting. It made me laugh a little to see myself and also feel a little bit normal. All the best to you all.

Tico August 23, 2010 at 8:22 am

I can totally relate to all you said about your hair, so in January of this year, I started shaving and bonding on hairpieces and I am so free from the hair loss now. I have been very happy and wish I would have found this method about 10 years ago. Peace to you all…..

Anne August 23, 2010 at 10:31 am

Wow…. Your comments really hit home with me… I have been having hairloss for approximately 8 years – but I “was” doing very well UNTIL a few months ago. I was on a regime of cortisone shots, WOMENS rogaine, spiro, and biotin…. Last August I went to see my former dermatologist for the last time and he said “You are doing very well.” AND I WAS!!! The only question he asked me was: “Are you done having children?” OF COURSE – I was 52 years old – definitely done having children… “We will switch you to the Men’s Formula of Minoxidil”…. Okay – you’re the doc, you must know what you’re doing…. BAD BAD idea! In March I noticed my scalp was white, scaly, inflamed and actually had open sores – SO, of course I had to stop using any/all products on my scalp. I tried going back on the womens minoxidil – but my scalp couldn’t handle it…. Fast forward to July – I swear to God I’ve lost 1/2 my hair in one month – seriously! From what I’m thinking the minoxidil must have all left my system with a vengeance in those few months… WHY did he switch me?! I KEEP asking myself – WHAT was he thinking? I was doing very well!!! He said so!!! Well, now – not so much…. I ended up going to another dermatologist and was definitely diagnosed with androgenetic alopecia (I hope I spelled that correctly)… So, I will try to go back on the women’s minoxidil, but am pretty scared to because I’ve heard there can be some shedding involved. I don’t remember it happening the first time I used it, BUT I had tons more hair then and could afford “a little shedding”… NOT NOW!!! I want to preserve every little hair on my head! It’s gotten so bad, that I now have to pick the “perfect seat” in church because we have halogen overhead lamps – talk about a SPOT light on your head. Pretty sad to say the least… Anyway, I HOPE I can accept this fate – right now, though – I am literally sick to my stomach most of the day, having trouble sleeping, eating, concentrating…. I keep praying for Jesus to give me strength….

It’s so nice to have this site – because no one knows what you’re going through unless they, too are going through it…. God Bless…..

LeAnn August 23, 2010 at 11:32 am

I have really missed getting the emails from The Women’s Hair Loss Project. I did not know how much until today, when I read your blog. I don’t feel comfortable using my real name, as I still do not want people to know the daily horrors I experience with hair loss. I must say, everyone here has said something that I can truly relate to. My hair loss has become so excessive, it is taking over my life. It is depressing, stressful and makes me feel so much “less” of a woman. I feel like, “how can my husband stand it when I can’t?” How could I possibly feel attractive? I look at all these women in their 40’s, and always think, “How come they don’t experience this? Why me?” I now know my Mother experiences it, which I did not always know. My sister is experiencing it. I also have a thyroid condition and anemia, which really makes it all the more worse. I just really need to find a way to cope with this. I had the longest, thickest, most beautiful hair. It was my favorite trait about myself. I was known for my hair. I used to be considered very attractive. Boy does this take you down a few thousand notches in the self esteem department! All the “mean girls” would be so happy to know that my hair was all falling out now, huh?? LOL. Now, I feel that my “identity” has been taken away, and I feel shame. I feel like I do not deserve to go out in public, do fun things, etc. Just the thought of having to fix my hair for any occasion, or family gatherings with pictures causes me stress. Life is so short, and I still have the desire to do things, but this hair loss is making want to live in the shadows. Your stories were very inspiring and helpful, and I feel for everyone one of you here. I always read your comments, but have been afraid to post my own. You have lessened my fear. I know now I have to cope with the hair loss, just tell me how to accept it. Please.

admin August 23, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Hi Everyone! Thank you so much for the awesome response to my post, it actually made me tear up reading all your comments. I’m so glad that it helps provide perspective and inspiration.

@Becca – congrats on going camping! I’ve never been camping in my life, it’s not because of my hair or anything.. it’s just my family wasn’t into it, so I never got the camping bug. I think wearing a low maintenance wig with bandana (at times) is a great way to go. Funny you mention the rollercoaster, it’s quite symbolic of all we have been through and continue to go through in learning to deal with our hair loss :)

@Karman – It never does fail! I’ve seen people from high school around town (I still live in the same area I grew up in) and while most people would just LOVE to reconnect, you’ll usually find me hiding behind a giant stack of watermelons till they pass by. LOL. But you do just gotta laugh.

@Amanda – Yes, hair loss will invariably always get in the way sometimes – but it’s how we deal with those situation that will define how happy and productive we will be. It’s definitely a challenge for all us, to say the least. I miss seeing you on here!

@mb – There is a future for you… believe that. I have adjusted to my hair loss over the years, I’m not happy with it, but I do try and control how unhappy it makes me. Yesterday was a flat hair day, i don’t know what was up. Maybe I used too much conditioner, but it was just OFF and seemingly more thin than usual. But I went out to dinner last night anyways and just brushed it off. Although.. I did have to do the old table switcheroo when I was there. I haven’t been swimming in years, but I’ve never really been fond of it anyways. Years ago I joined a gym with a pool so I could incorporate swimming into my exercise. Seemed like a great idea at the time and I did have hair loss at this point too. Turns out, I suck at swimming. I sink, I don’t float. There was like an 80 year old man in the lane next to me, just blowing through that water like a fish! LOL But what I did was put my hair in a slick back ponytail and just went in. When tons of water is on your head, it seems to make the hair not as thin looking, so the swimming seemed to be okay for me. It’s the towel dried wet hair look that says “Hey look at me, I’m balding”

@Donna – I’m sorry Donna, I’m so sorry for the pain you are in, and I truly feel your tears from here. I know what it feels like from the inner most depths of my heart. I’m glad you do use a wig though, I think it’s a wonderful option that many women don’t use, probably because it is intimidating and probably because we resent it. Why should we have to have all? We were born with hair, it’s ours gosh darn it, now give it back! That’s how we really feel, or at least how I’ve felt many times. I used to pray and pray for ALL my hair to return, eventually I prayed I just wouldn’t loose anymore, finally I just prayed for strength… if this is what I’m faced with, please give me the strength to deal with it. I’m tired of asking all the Why’s, there is no answer. Now that I know where all the chips have fallen my delusions of getting all my hair back are gone, I can confront what is left in front of me, which is me.. me with hair loss. Only we can determine how the story ends. Will we be stronger from this, or do we let it swallow us whole and miss out on life. We only get one life, it’s ours to live.

@Rachel – You are so right, every woman has their own individual insecurities. I’d prefer if mine was hidden, like in a large mole on the bottom of my foot or something… ha. That would be better. Congrats on ditching the meds. If I wasn’t afraid all my hair would fall out, I’d ditch them too. When I’m at the point of needing to wear hair, I’ll definitely being saying adios to the Aldactone and Ortho Tricyclen. Thanks for the tip on the website that has the hair coloring information. You asked a question I’ve often though about myself, “Was female hair loss so prevalent 50 or 100 years ago?” You know, I’m going to say no. Yes, they wore wigs too and could hide it that way, but I believe a HUGE contributor of women dealing with androgenetic alopecia is actually the use of birth control pills (and other medications), they prescribe them like candy to young girls. So I see more and more young girls with wide parts nowadays. I think the correlation is there for sure.

@Susan – Yes that is the doctor I went to in Florida. It’s definitely not a cure though, but I do believe it has helped me.

@Beth – Isn’t it so funny the crazy little things we probably all do, and then think we are the only ones doing it. That’s until you compare notes and go.. “OHHHHH It’s not just me” LOL. Don’t even get me started on humidity, humidity does horrible horrible things to me, and not just my hair.. well for my hair it leaves it looking like a frayed wet broomstick, and for the rest of me it swells me up!! I end up looking like shrek! A frayed straw broomstick head shrek, sexy right? I’ll make sure to cross Costa Rica off my list too. hee hee.

@Tico – Congrats on taking that step to shave your head and use hairpieces, it must be so liberating!

@Anne – I’m sorry the doctor switched you, I know his heart was probably in the right place. I think when it comes to minoxidil it is considered dose dependent, so basically… the higher percentage of minoxidil, the better. I also took the 5% before, but it just didn’t do anything for me. I think it’s possible that after having let your head heal and recover that you would be able to tolerate the 2% again. The shedding you are referring to is the dread shed. I wrote about it here:
https://www.womenshairlossproject.com/hair-loss/rogaine-shedding-help/
It doesn’t necessary mean it will happen to you, but it is definitely a possibility. I can completely relate when you said back then you had tons more hair and could afford “a little shedding” Yep, that keeps me from actually getting off my meds. Regardless of whether they are working for me, I know when I get off it will work against me and I’ll shed.. even if it stops eventually, I simply don’t have enough to spare. I’ve sat in Church many times myself praying about my hair loss, I think you are praying for the right thing… strength.

@LeAnn – It’s okay you don’t feel comfortable using your real name, look at me, I’m only an initial.
I think we’ve all sat there looking at other women our age or older thinking, “Why me, Why me Why me” I nearly get dry heaves when I see a woman in her 60s or 70s with gorgeous silver thick hair in a classic bob. I almost passed out at Nordstrom as this elderly lady flung her silver locks around. :) For a big part of my hair loss life I avoided watching movies or tv because all I ever saw was amazing hair, hair I used to have, hair that was just now a far distant memory. I’m like you LeAnn, my hair was my “thing” it was the one thing I got more compliments on than anything else. I was one of those kids with a mop of hair, while other kids had thin wispy locks. Having been lucky enough to have started with so much, also afforded me the ability to loose 3/4 of it over 11 years and still have hair on my head. So I guess I should be thankful for the stockpiled follicles I started with. My mom has hair loss, but hers didn’t start till after menopause, apparently my grandmother was bald, who knew? I just recently found out. My father only started thinning in his late 60s and out of my whole family, 2 brothers included… I have the least amount of hair now.

Your identity is still there, but it is changing and evolving.. and it CAN be for the better. I think I use to hide behind my thick locks before.. they where my strength and my confidence. But now I have to get those things from some place else within, because it surely isn’t coming from my hair now. You deserve to live your life to the fullest, we cannot let our hair loss define us and shackle us to the couch. Often times we are the only ones looking at our hair anyways. Before hair loss, I never looked at anyones head.. I never saw a woman with thin hair either, because I wasn’t looking. Well neither are most people, except perhaps the other woman who is going through the same thing. Getting ready for events and gatherings can be a chore at times, but I just start prep way ahead of time, like 3 hours ahead of time. It’s important to allow time for meltdowns and cursing into the mirror :) Poor a glass of wine, it always makes me feel better.

LeAnn, you can step outside of the shadow you feel you are living in. For me, it was important to let go of the picture in my head of who I WAS, the girl with the amazing thick hair is no longer, but what’s left is in many ways better than before.

I’m glad you took the time to comment, sharing is healing.

———–

Thank you again everyone! Reading your comments have made me cry, smile and laugh and be so thankful I have had the chance to reach you in some small way.

WShair August 24, 2010 at 3:41 pm

Hi Y, It’s so nice to hear from you! Thanks for sending me an email regarding this article. I’m very thankful because I’ve been totally disconnected. I still don’t know where you, and all the other wonderful women on here, get the energy to keep on writing and sharing your stories.

I’ve keep losing dear people in my life, and see other loved ones get very sick, therefore finding my hair loss to be nothing in comparison. God knows I’ve spent quite a few years trying to find something that works, but pretty much gave up on finding a solution. However, recently my dear daughter’s hair loss has accelerated and it breaks my heart. I’ve been able to deal with mine and accept it for what it is, but I did not start with hair loss as young as she has. I’m in the process of looking for a good hair loss specialist and am frustrated remembering what an ordeal this is. No matter how hard we all look, we find nobody with concrete answers.
Best wishes to you always,
Melba

Nicole Smith August 30, 2010 at 12:34 am

Totally relate to this post. I do all of those things as well. And I’ve also become addicted to running to in trying to deal with this whole mess. Thanks for your always inspiring posts. Just wondering though. I read somewhere that you went for your third treatment with Dr. Greco. Was it again a positive experience?? And are you still seeing the same results with your hair? Thanks!

Nicole

Anne August 31, 2010 at 3:48 pm

I WISH everyone on this website lived close together – I would love to have a friend or 2 or 3 that is going through the same thing I am. Not that I would actually “wish” this on anybody – I certainly wouldn’t…. Waking up in the middle of the night, running my fingers through my hair and wondering how long I’ll have it, is not something I would wish on ANYONE…. I just would like to have someone to actually talk to – someone to cry with and someone who ACTUALLY understands…. Oh well, a girl can dream, can’t she? Love to all, God Bless…. Anne

gigi September 3, 2010 at 3:37 pm

i also havnt been on this site in a while because of my life, health and my computer crashing….. i have been thinking its been a blessing to be away for a while because of being uncontrollably obbsessed!!!!!! the first thing i would like to say is one of our fellow hair loss members has left the site for good, at least that i am aware of. her name is; foreverblue. if she made it to heaven because of hair loss i hope shes there sporting the fattest head of hair imagineable, miss you girl.~~~~~~~second i also got lost in this hair loss,,, and well i feel like a surviver { which i thank another fellow member for from the bottom of my heart. love ya girl !!! in my defense i didnt think ,,, if i really figured out my health issues that caused my hair loss i could let go of the pain i was suffering from. well i was wrong. go figure !!!! my health is getting better and losing so much of my hair does effect me still in so many ways but my health seems to be more important. what i mean by that is { i feel alive again,,,like i have everyday to live for… good or bad } i could have lost my mother to cancer, i could have died in the three car accidents that i was in, i could have never figured out that i was actually poisend by the kenalog injections ive written about that caused my hair loss……….. so in response to you Y… i get it — life is too short,,,, real short,,,,,, thank you for your honesty and heart felt words once again……..and yes i got the glass of wine right before i started reading because i knew i was going to celebrate those words and well ill say it ………. LIFE DAMIT……. cheers ladies,,, lets live it up and keep the courage we own ,,, we all get lost now and then but we are women; and we are made of strength and tenacity,, no one or anything can take those qualities away from us,,, no matter what we do or choose in life….. lotta love to you all. and again, thank you Y for this place we have to go and share our lives and hearts..

Rachelle October 24, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Thank you for blogging about this. It gives me great comfort knowing someone else is going through this together. I feel the same, that hair loss should not rob me of enjoying things in life. Everything in my life now is near perfect, and there is really nothing I can complain about except for hair loss. It is not killing me, yet it robs aways true “happiness” from me, just cause I let it. I am still learning to accept this new normal and live my life to the fullest and not let this hold me back.

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