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.
To finally catch up to the present day, I will go back to February of this year.
That was my last dermatologist appointment. A week before, I sunk down beyond frustration.
I felt like nothing was working. I was the girl with the headband. What I thought would help me grow my hair was turning into a monthly fiasco of prescriptions and doctor’s appointments with no light at the end of the tunnel. I didn’t see improvement.
So, I told myself that this was it. I was possibly ending any and all treatments for alopecia. I was tired of having my hopes up of one day not having the bald spots. I was done. I was ready to shave my head.
The doctor encouraged me not to give up hope just yet. She suggested taking photos again to show any progress. She said we would take another look at the next appointment and evaluate our options. I received a couple more steroid injections and would come back in a couple of months.
I paced back to my car with my eyes to the ground. To keep the tears from coming I decided to go ahead with my progress pictures.
As you can see, my scalp hates injections.
My head was throbbing. I sat in my car looking through all of the previous photos I had taken. The depressed fever set in and big, hot water drops rolled down my face.
I was so tired of being in limbo. Maybe I would have hair. Maybe I would shave my head. Maybe I would look at options at a later date. No answers. No when, no why.
Journalists don’t deal with unanswered questions very well. In fact, a no comment would’ve been better for my emotions.
I decided to make myself options since my body was taking them away. I threw the car into drive and went to Target.
I grabbed three different color scarves and checked out. I sat in the parking lot and taught myself how to tie them around my head via YouTube.
With a quick Google search I was on to my next stop.
I wasn’t real sure what to expect when I walked into the wig store, but I knew that I had to leave for the better.
The lady helped me look at options, and answered my questions. I tried a couple on.
I went short. I went long.
I went blonde. I went brunette.
I wore bangs. I went curly. I went straight.
The possibilities were endless. I enjoyed that.
Eventually I could buy several. I could be a red-headed wild child on the weekend, and an elegant brunette during the week. Maybe even a dumb blonde on holidays.
Who cared that people would know it was a wig. That wasn’t the point. This was something that I could do before and after if I decided to shave my head. This was the ultimate dream of being able to be blonde, curl my hair and change my look with no consequence and no commitment.
I decided bangs weren’t my thing, and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to afford multiple wigs at once. Just a heads up, wigs are VERY expensive.
This would be something I would have to build up over a long period of time, which would also mean that I wouldn’t be able to wear the wig on a daily basis because it would wear out.
I never thought in my younger years (HA!) I would one day purchase a wig for something other than for Halloween or to goof around.
I settled for something more natural to help with the transition for myself and those around me. You’re welcome.
When I returned to work, I encountered something that I hadn’t even realized had been absent from my life for the past four years. People told me my hair looked nice.
… and cue the tear roll.
It wasn’t anything I ever thought about. It was a change I hadn’t anticipated. It was bittersweet. I thanked them, and corrected that it was a wig and not my natural hair.
The questions flew, and it was relieving to discuss. Most of my co-workers were aware. Most that were unaware of my alopecia are now. The conversation was comforting.
One person asked why I purchased it. I happily explained that I needed it for my mental and emotional health.
Then they took me back several years to when I told them I had alopecia.
When I tell people, I typically show them. The visual element is very impactful to some people, and though I don’t want sympathy, many times it helps them to know I’m not lying, or exaggerating.
When I was initially sharing this piece of me with this person, I made a comment about my bald spots being weird, or gross, or scary.
The person repeated their response at the time, that it was me and that it wasn’t weird or scary to them. It was physical and not part of my personality or heart.
The biggest thing about alopecia that I can relay to anyone is the emotional pain and anxiety associated with it. Sure, it sucks to not have hair, but after it’s been gone for awhile it becomes the physical portion of you just like a scar or glasses.
Because so many people do not know or understand alopecia makes it somewhat embarrassing, difficult to explain and gut wrenching that your body struggles to make hair.
Additional layers of being a female with a “beauty” issue and that there is no cure and not much known about the auto-immune disease tear into a vulnerable mind and create an anxiety that is difficult to communicate.
I am constantly worried that my bald spots are showing. I am constantly worried that the wig might blow off in the wind. I am constantly worried that people won’t understand.
And while I shouldn’t have these worries, I do.
It’s been four years since my first bald spot reared its ugliness, and I’m still fighting.
I took my pictures at the one month mark for the dermatologist. We’ll see what she says next week.
For clarity on the story above, please read the blog posts below.