thejessence

The energy of the mind is the essence of life. – Aristotle


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Peach Fuzz But Not Peachy Keen

READER ADVISORY: Some photos and descriptions in this story might be disturbing to some individuals. Use discretion when choosing to continue. Previous blog posts leading up to this story are located at the bottom of this post. It is suggested that the previous posts be read first for a full understanding of this post.

Six months passed. A year passed. I had nothing to show on my head but a few little white hairs and the peach fuzz that you could feel but not see.

I had moved across state lines, and wasn’t going to be able to make the trip back to the same doctor.

I kept telling myself it would grow back. I took the maximum over-the-counter dose of biotin. I created concoctions of honey and cinnamon to rub on my head. I put olive oil in the refrigerator and shampooed my hair with it.

I researched essential oils. I picked one and started a nightly regimen of rubbing the lavender into my scalp.

I noticed the fuzz got thicker, but still no brown curly hair. I hoped the longer I would use these “miracle” supplements, I would start to see something. Anything.

Photo by: Jessica McBride Many never notice the creeping bald spot on the left side of my head because I would comb over the hair from the right side of my head to cover the baldness that developed. I retook this photo several times until I decided I didn't care if people wondered why my hairline gapped toward my temple.

Photo by: Jessica McBride
Many never notice the creeping bald spot on the left side of my head because I would comb over the hair from the right side of my head to cover the baldness that developed.
I retook this photo several times until I decided I didn’t care if people wondered why my hairline gapped toward my temple.

For another year I would dedicate myself to fixing this problem. Drizzle oil on my head, wrap my head in a bandana, go to sleep, wake up, wash out my hair, go to work, eat dinner, take some the supplements and then start the process again.

I found hope in each little hair that developed, but nothing more would come from it other than short, stubby fuzz.

How hard is it to grow hair? Apparently very difficult. Unless you’re a woman and trying to grow hair on your legs of course.

I knew that something was wrong, but after not getting help from those in the medical field before I was highly skeptical they would be able to do anything. Everything I read online didn’t give me much hope.

Surely I wasn’t the only one suffering from not being able to get my body to work normally. Rogaine is available over-the-counter so someone else was dealing with this.

I knew that if I went to the doctor again and demanded answers I would be poked, prodded and judged. I’m a very private person, and mentally I just wasn’t ready.

After combing my hair over like Donald Trump for so long, it started to thin where I would draw the part. I tried many times to shift the part towards the middle or further to the right, but there was either not enough hair to cover it, or it just didn’t look natural.

The tears, the anger, the obsession continued to grow after two years of watching my hair slowly disappear.

For clarity on the story above, please read the blog posts below.

https://thejessence.wordpress.com/2015/07/02/word-vomit/

https://thejessence.wordpress.com/2015/07/02/and-then-it-appeared/

https://thejessence.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/radius-diameter-and-the-curious-spread/

https://thejessence.wordpress.com/2015/07/27/shimmering-dresses-and-comb-overs/

https://thejessence.wordpress.com/2015/08/02/the-monster-within/

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The Monster Within

READER ADVISORY: Some photos and descriptions in this story might be disturbing to some individuals. Use discretion when choosing to continue. Previous blog posts leading up to this story are located at the bottom of this post. It is suggested that the previous posts be read first for a full understanding of this post.

I was sad. I was angry. I was dejected. I was stressed. I was scared. I was heartbroken. I was tired. I was anxious.

Photo by: Jessica McBride

Photo by: Jessica McBride

I was depressed.

My doctor’s appointment was in late October, early November of 2012. For once, I don’t remember the date.

As the date approached, I was hopeful that there was a cure. I told myself that this wasn’t a weird symptom to an unknown disease. I told myself that it wasn’t weird that I could grow more hair on my legs than I could in this bald spot on the top of my head that seemed to grow daily.

And then the darkness would creep in and remind me that this wasn’t normal. It reminded me that this spot was getting to me mentally and that I was starting to lose it. Forget a magical cure for a strange patch of scalp, I was a mess mentally.

Every time I would think about the fact that I had a doctor’s appointment the tears would flow. How would I bring up this oddity to a doctor without crying? How would I be able to convince the doctor that I didn’t need anxiety or depression drugs?

Those symptoms hurt most of all. I didn’t want to be a mental case. I just wanted to grow hair.

I couldn’t go outside of the house without creating my right part and using the hair that I had to cover up the monster on the left side. What was once slick and smooth was growing three albino white strands. I held onto those strands. I wouldn’t pluck them. I wouldn’t cut them. They were my hope to grow hair in the future. If I could get more then maybe I could look like Rogue from X-Men.

Who knew. Maybe I would develop mutant powers too.

I really did feel like a monster. A creature from the black lagoon to be banished to the darkest depths of the earth because I was incapable of one human function.

I prayed. I cried. I kept everything concealed so others wouldn’t know how I felt.

At my appointment, the girl took my temperature, weighed me and began asking my medical history. I was blind, never had braces and tried to remember to take a multi-vitamin every day. They had me fill out a form in the waiting room describing my symptoms, and I was completely honest because I thought it would make my condition easier to treat. I was brutally truthful about everything, the anxiety, the depression, the stress, the growing bald spot. I wrote down everything like a hypochondriac would.

She asked me the reason for my appointment and I explained that I had written everything on the paper. She told me to give her a summary to write on my chart. I was hesitant, but explained that I had an incredible amount of hair loss on my head. She looked at me and asked where exactly it was because she hadn’t noticed it. She wasn’t rude, just inquisitive.

I pulled the hair tie out of my hair and dragged my left hand backward from my forehead to the back of my head in one swift motion. Having curly hair, my fingers usually get tangled toward the end, but with the bald spot, there wasn’t any hair to get tangled.

Her eyes widened. “Oh, that’s a large patch.” I nodded. She seemed to brush off what she had seen and told me that the doctor would be with me. I re-created my part and pulled the hair back the left side of my face.

The doctor was kind. I opened up about my feelings and stress from work and the wedding.

She looked at the patch and touched it and the hair around it and then smiled.

“You’re stressed, my dear. You’re hair fell out because of stress.”

Well, that wasn’t the answer I expected nor necessarily wanted.

“It’ll grow back. You just need to relax.”

She said she could tell because I didn’t have any signs of infection and my Rogue strands were beginning to grow. She told me most likely the regrowth would be the same color.

I left the office surprised. I hadn’t anticipated any of that. She said to come back if I hadn’t seen any progress in 6 months to a year. That was a long time, but if it meant not being poked and prodded then I was on board.

I tried to remind myself of the doctors words. That would get me through this waiting period. I buried my emotions.

As Christmas neared, my husband asked what I wanted for Christmas. I remember that evening and am even tearing up as I retell it.

I cried. My response? “I just want my hair to come back. I just want to be able to grow hair.”

Such a simple request. What human couldn’t grow hair?

All my life, I’ve hated my curly, brown hair. I’ve hated the texture, I’ve hated everything about it even dying it a different color because everyone was brunette. I blamed my mother because she had the same type of hair, only black in color.

But I would’ve given anything just for it to grow back. I just wanted something to grow from the barrenness. I didn’t care if it was white. I could dye it. I could sport the Rogue streak. I just wanted hair.

That night I found it difficult to sleep, just like most nights. But I told myself that 6 months to a year really wasn’t that long of a time. I would do what I could to help it grow, and in time, I would be alright.

For clarity on the story above, please read the blog posts below.

https://thejessence.wordpress.com/2015/07/02/word-vomit/

https://thejessence.wordpress.com/2015/07/02/and-then-it-appeared/

https://thejessence.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/radius-diameter-and-the-curious-spread/

https://thejessence.wordpress.com/2015/07/27/shimmering-dresses-and-comb-overs/


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Shimmering Dresses and Comb Overs

WARNING: SOME IMAGES AND DESCRIPTIONS IN THIS POST MAY BE DISTURBING TO SOME INDIVIDUALS.

It’s difficult for me to trust others. It is a long process in which I analyze a person to see which pieces of my life I can trust them to care for and handle.

Photo by: Hayden Photography

Photo by: Hayden Photography

I mean, I had a huge bald spot on my head, who could I possibly trust to tell and help me? Unfortunately, I had to suck it up and step outside of my comfort zone.

I hadn’t had a haircut in months. I wasn’t trying to grow my hair out, but part of me hoped that the length would somehow help me cover up the slick piece of scalp glaring at me in the mirror. Deep down I knew it wouldn’t, but I kept lying to myself.

Looking at Pinterest for wedding ideas was horrendous because there were so many hairstyle inspiration photos. I didn’t even pick a hairstyle because I wasn’t even sure what would even work at this point.

We set a practice date before the wedding with my bridesmaids. I had already informed everyone in the hopes that no one would be surprised when two face appeared before them, but it still made me nervous. I would be vulnerable to others and felt so hideous as the day approached.

I still remember sitting in that chair in my kitchen. I remember being asked what I had in mind. I didn’t know what could be done to save my face for my wedding. I didn’t know that anything could be done. I remember taking deep breaths to try and keep my eyes from watering as the other girls smiled, giggled and planned their perfect ‘do.

I found some styles on the internet quickly that could include my side part and comb over so that it wouldn’t take a lot of work to make me look presentable.

We made a practice run and it looked better than I could’ve hoped.

After everyone left I took another deep breath and let the tears fall. I had watched as the once tiny piece of scalp grew to almost the size of my fist in a few months time. I still had a couple of months to go, and I had to hope that I didn’t lose any more hair that would completely ruin my wedding day.

I dreaded the wedding.

I didn’t want a wig. I couldn’t get a haircut. I didn’t know what to do.

I needed to see a doctor. I knew I did, but I couldn’t mentally handle finding out a dreadful answer before I was supposed to marry the love of my life.

As the day approached, I decided I would make a doctor’s appointment after the wedding was over. I dreaded that day too.

The wedding day came and everything worked out exactly how it was planned. Everyone looks at my wedding photos and notices nothing, but when I look at them I see thinning hair covering a massive bald spot on the left side of my head.

Luckily I was able to forget about it after we combed my hair to the side and pinned it down. We hair sprayed it until it was crunchy so that it wouldn’t drift and reveal my secret.

But my secret couldn’t remain hidden for long.


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Radius, Diameter and the Curious Spread

Photo by: Jessica McBride

Photo by: Jessica McBride

WARNING: SOME IMAGES AND DESCRIPTIONS IN THIS POST MAY BE DISTURBING TO SOME INDIVIDUALS.

Being a pessimist and part-time hypochondriac is difficult to control sometimes. First, you think of all kinds of crazy diseases you might have and next you think of all the terrible outcomes.

Now add a fear of doctors to the mix. Sounds like a ton of fun inside my head, right?

I cried. I was angry. I was scared. I was everything you could imagine yet I felt nothing.

To lose hair from the top of my head was devastating to say the least, but I had no idea where to go or what to do.

I didn’t want to go to the doctor. They would tell me I was dying and then I would die in the office after they delivered the bad news.

Or, they would play guinea pig with me and poke me and stick me with needles and then tell me I could never have sweet tea and ranch dressing again.

They would shove me in a plastic machine that looks like coffin and force me not to move for hours.

They would lock me in a bubble and tell me I was allergic to life.

They would cancel my September wedding in a few months.

As you can see, I come up with some pretty good crazy. But, I wasn’t going to let this ugly bald spot stand between me and my wedding. September 2012 was going to happen and I was going to marry the love of my life.

Photo by: Jessica McBride

Photo by: Jessica McBride

But what appeared to be minor was only growing in diameter, which in turn stressed out this bride-to-be even more.

There were nights I couldn’t turn off the tears. There we’re days I thought it was the funniest thing. The range of emotions my brain traveled to felt abnormal.

I didn’t know what to do, but a doctor wasn’t the answer. My brain couldn’t handle it. My heart couldn’t handle it.

My plan was to take a deep breath and make the best of an awful situation. Between wedding planning and working in the mortgage industry during the busiest time of the year, I was completely stressed out and felt that seeing a doctor and worrying about my health would only stress me more.

So, in June 2012 I decided to wait. I told myself it would get better. I told myself that it wasn’t that bad.

The wedding date grew nearer and as every other bride in this decade looked on Pinterest for hair inspiration, I dreaded what I would do. Did I need a wig? A hairpiece maybe? Pre-wedding haircut on the checklist? Let’s just cross that one out.

I couldn’t go to a salon. I would be judged. I was a complete mental case, and I couldn’t share with anyone my struggle. But the wedding planning must go on.


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Hubs and Awards

image

Photo by: Jessica McBride

It’s not every day that your hard work is acknowledged, especially by your peers.

Tonight, I was honored to receive three awards from the Native American Journalist Association for articles I wrote last year.

While I’d like to say that I’m this awesome person that truly deserves an award, I know there are better writers out there that deserve it more than me.

Daily, my husband tells me he is proud of me and I’m so lucky to have someone that makes me better with everything I do. Many times I don’t recognize what he is proud of me for, but as a pessimistic person, it is nice to have someone who has seen me at my worst and helps to pick me up because he knows I can do better.

When we were stunt partners in college (Ya, I married a male cheerleader. What of it?), I always knew that he would tell me what I needed to hear to strive for perfection. The minimum was never acceptable.

It wasn’t always easy, and I left several practices ready to punch him in the face. I didn’t, and I’m grateful because I would never have accomplished half of what I have without him.

Our goal to push each other to success was the basis for a beautiful friendship and love that grew into a marriage as the years developed. If it weren’t for him, I would’ve given up on writing and finding a career that I truly love.

He always encouraged me to do what I loved and that he would do whatever it took to help me get there. There are days that he has to set me straight and remind me that I’m capable of much more. There are days he has to hold me together when my world is falling apart. There are days he brags on me for something I see as so insignificant.

When they announced the awards this year, I was proud of my accomplishment but I think he was more excited than me. He’s my biggest fan, and I can’t thank him enough for choosing to stick by my side through thick and thin.

I know I have a husband, friend and coach that will hold me accountable for being stupid and will let me know when it’s time to celebrate.

I’ve included links to the stories I received awards for below, but I have to say that Husband of the Year can go to no other but my hubs.

Without him, I wouldn’t be an award winning journalist.

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https://m.facebook.com/MuscogeeNationNews/photos/a.362213007142792.87634.359095080787918/814767138554041/?type=1&theater

https://m.facebook.com/mcnfvp/posts/363255017147766

https://m.facebook.com/MuscogeeNationNews/photos/a.362213007142792.87634.359095080787918/833092833388138/?type=1&__tn__=C


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And Then It Appeared

Photo by: Jessica McBride

Photo by: Jessica McBride

READER WARNING: Content and photos in this post may be considered graphic by some individuals.

I remember the day, April 9, 2012.

I had spent the last 10 months to the day wedding planning. The excitement was both thrilling and overwhelming while trying to balance a full-time job and planning what everyone believes to be one of the biggest days in your life.

I woke up just like any other morning to go to work. I followed the normal, day-to-day routine. I showered. I dressed myself in a collared shirt and slacks. I put on make up. I brushed my wet hair.

My hair wasn’t laying right. I mean, I have strange hair that does its own thing, so I just needed to tousle it so it would not look like a cowlick. And then I noticed it.

Photo by: Jessica McBride

Photo by: Jessica McBride

…A round showing of skin about the size of a quarter on top of my head

I thought I had brushed my head too hard and pulled some hairs out. No clumps in the brush. I thought there might have been gum, or a huge tangle, or a culprit that pulled it out. No clumps on the ground.

There wasn’t anything wrong with me, right? Do I have cancer? Did I roll on it in my sleep and yank it out? No clumps in the bed. Did I accidentally and sleepily run my razor on my head during my shower? No clumps in the shower.

It didn’t hurt. It was straight bald. There were not the usual prickles of hair that had been broken off or shaved.

With tears in my eyes, I told my fiance. He told me not to worry. He was probably right.

How do you get a bald spot in the middle of your head? I brushed my hair back and pulled it in a ponytail at the back of my head, covering the spot.

It was nothing, right? I went through every scenario on my way to work like a typical hypochondriac. I wasn’t crazy, right? I touched my head. Yep, it’s still there.

When I arrived at work, I’m pretty sure I told everyone out of shock and paranoia that someone might notice it. I mean, it was a bald spot in the middle of my head that anyone would notice if my hair slipped away from it.

What in the world could this be? During my lunch break I took the above picture. I sent it to my dad in a text message saying,”I guess I got a bald spot lol.” But in reality, I was afraid.

I couldn’t tell the difference between laughing about it and crying. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

I couldn’t stay off of Web MD at work. If you’ve ever been on the website, you probably know exactly what it pulled up when I searched random bald spot. EVERYTHING!

Researching didn’t help. I couldn’t find comfort in myself. I struggled to find comfort in everyone else’s opinions and thoughts.

“Go to the doctor,” they said. “It’s probably wedding stress,” they said. I couldn’t decide what to do.

So I did nothing.

It hurt my heart. With a smile on my face I laughed about it, but on the inside I struggled to hold back the tears. What happened? What did I do? Was it the shampoo? Was it something I ate? Did it just fall out?

My wedding was in five months. This would be fixed, right? This is all just a dream, right?

I couldn’t sleep that next night. I contemplated what I should do.


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Word Vomit

Photo Credit: Jessica McBride

Photo Credit: Jessica McBride

I haven’t written in a while.

I wish I could say it is because I’ve been busy. I have been very busy between work and everything in my personal life, but I have thought about blogging almost every day for the past several weeks when I get home from work. I arrive home every day and I choose not to write.

It sounds dumb. It sounds like I don’t want to write, but that’s not true at all. There has been a story on my heart for the past month. Writers out there know what I’m talking about. It’s a drive to tell a story and describe a realization, experience or new idea conveyed in a new way. It sits there like a stone, weighing you down until you click publish.

I’ve been contemplating this story for a while now, I just needed the right time, the right outlet and the right state of mind in order to create the picture with words. Deeply personal, the story must be told and not kept inside any longer.

Anyone remember “word vomit” from Mean Girls? It feels like that, creeping up from the deepest parts of your gut, through your esophagus and out of your mouth. It’s almost uncontrollable.

I’m hoping people can read this story, experience it with me and catch a glimpse of a struggle that few realize or see. Writing is an outlet for me. I enjoy showing my perception of people through my writing. As a reporter, I hardly ever write columns or editorials. It’s not that it’s not my style, I just don’t find myself entertaining enough to share a personal story.

I also find it difficult to share deeply personal aspects of my interior thoughts and feelings. Introverted at the core, I can become extrovert if the need calls, but it is in moments of silence and solitude I find my strength. I am able to gather my thoughts and decide the best manner to project.

In my next few posts, which shouldn’t be separated by months on end, I hope you will follow me on a journey very few have traveled with me. I hope that you, my readers, if nothing else will gain insight into a world many experience though rarely share.

Until next time…