thejessence

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


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Fake and Fancy Free

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.

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Photo by: Jessica McBride

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.

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Photo by: Jessica McBride

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.

 

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Photo by: Jessica McBride

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.

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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.

Acceptance.

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.

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Photo by: Jessica McBride

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.

Word Vomit

And Then It Appeared

Radius, Diameter and the Curious Spread

Shimmering Dresses and Comb Overs

The Monster Within

Peach Fuzz But Not Peachy Keen

Beauty and the Beast

25,000 Strands Lost

1 + 1 = 2

Bandana Bandaid

Reflection

My Hair is Full of Secrets

Follicles of Hope

Show Me The Progress

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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.