How cool is this?
Lisa contacted me to do something a bit out-of-the-box. She’s been seeing a therapist for a few issues, one of which is her hair loss. Her therapist suggested she do something different to help her cope—her “different” is sharing her story with all of you.
I don’t know about you, but, quite frankly, I’m flattered!
Lisa and I have a lot in common, and I’m sure many of you will relate to her story. For me, I completely identified with her belief that birth control caused her hair loss. I also experienced major hair loss while pregnant (boo!).
Have a read through her story and let us know what you think in the comments section, below.
Hello, my name is Lisa and I wanted to share my story with you.
I am a military spouse and mother of a wonderful three year old boy. I am also a hair loss sufferer. I have been seeing a therapist for almost a year now to deal with my depression and anxiety over a variety of issues, including the trauma of hair loss. During my most recent session, I complained to the therapist that I was not feeling any better despite the hours of therapy I have undergone.
His response still resonates with me.
Sometimes it is not a matter of feeling better. Sometimes it is just about feeling and acting differently.
He likes to start his sessions with a basic question: “what are you doing differently.” Most of the time my response is, “not much.”
I guess I just keep waiting for my problems to go away. Maybe I am hoping one morning I will wake up and my hair will have magically grown back overnight. Well, suffice it to say, that’s not happening. I think it is finally time I start doing something different. So this morning I decided I would write about what has happened to me and find some way to share it with the world.
I hope that by sharing my story I will help at least one person to feel and act differently, even if it is just to feel like they are not alone.
So here it goes!
I have been through hair loss twice in my life. Yes, you read that right. TWICE!
The first time was in my early thirties. I had been on the birth control pill for many years. I curse the day I ever opened that first pack. I have read lots of hair loss stories and one common denominator I have seen is the birth control pill. Doctors hand them out like candy and really seem to have no clue the problems they cause. Unfortunately, many women, myself included, know all too well the havoc those stupid pills can wreck on your life.
I think I lost hair the whole time I was on them.
When I look back at pictures of myself, I can see how the hair on top of my head slowly thinned over the years. However, the loss I experienced on the pill was nothing compared to what happened when I stopped taking it.
My hair practically melted off my head in a matter of six months.
I still remember the day I saw that first patch of scalp in the mirror. I was NEVER the same after that.
Like most women who go through hair loss, I was in a full-on panic.
I went to every kind of doctor I could think of: gynecologist, dermatologist, endocrinologist. I went to see several “hair loss” experts. I spent so much time crying in doctors’ offices and giving blood.
The only thing that came back abnormal was my thyroid. I found out I had Hashimoto’s Disease, an autoimmune disorder of the thyroid (I blame the pill for that too!!).
I went back and forth for years, trying different medications, different shampoos. I tried Spirolactone for a year. I even went back on the pill for a while, hoping it would fix things. I was on and off thyroid medicine.
Nothing seemed to help.
Finally, five years after going off the pill, my hair slowly started to regrow. I could see tons of regrowth all over my head and my sparse hair began to fill in a little at a time.
Don’t get me wrong, I never regained the hair of my twenties.
It was probably 80% back to normal and that’s pretty much where it stayed for several years. The top was much thinner and the hair at my right temple never grew back.
But, I felt like I had enough hair to feel “normal” again.
Things began to change again in my late thirties.
I met my husband and love of my life. I got pregnant at age 39 and was thrilled!
Everyone always says your hair gets thick and wonderful during pregnancy and so I was looking forward to having plenty of good hair days.
Boy was that a load of crap!
My hair began shedding like crazy and didn’t stop the whole first trimester. I was devastated once again.
I complained to my doctors but no one listened. They just chalked it up to all the pregnancy hormones. I spent the first three months of my pregnancy freaked out about my hair instead of enjoying such a special time in my life.
Eventually, the shedding stabilized.
By the time I entered my third trimester, the hair loss had almost completely stopped (like maybe one or two a day in my hair brush).
As my due date approached, I was very worried about the postpartum loss.
Sure enough, the first shower after having my son, my hair started shedding like crazy. It settled down after a few months and seemed to go back to my pre-pregnancy shedding. I guess I am lucky that I didn’t get a horrible shed after giving birth. Maybe I am just one of those who loses more hair in pregnancy than after.
By the time my son was six months old, my hair seemed normal again.
Fast forward to my early forties and once again, hair loss has reared its ugly head!
After my son was born, my husband and I tried very hard for baby number two. We tried many different fertility medications.
I lost three pregnancies in just over a year.
I also moved to South Korea with my husband who is in the military. The environment and water quality here is just terrible. Lots of pollution and hard water.
Talk about a perfect storm of hormonal fluctuation, stress and bad environment! I was here for maybe six months when I noticed my hair thinning again.
On top of the shedding and loss, my remaining hair became dry, brittle and frizzy from the hard water and toxins.
I was surprised how quickly I fell back in a deep depression over my hair.
I did the usual round of doctor visits again but no one had a solution.
I did find one dermatologist who seemed to care a little. He did a scalp biopsy and sent it to a colleague back home in the States.
The results were consistent with Telogen Effluvium.
No signs of miniaturization, just too many hairs in the shedding phase.
Doctor said that was “good news” and sent me on my way.
Well, I really don’t care what kind of label you put on it. My hair is falling out and it is not coming back!
I started pumping myself full of vitamins in hopes it would help. I even changed my thyroid medicine from Synthroid (a known cause of hair loss in some women) to a natural thyroid drug like the one I took in my thirties.
Things actually got worse on the new drug.
I was all set to switch back to my old medicine when I found out I was pregnant for the fourth time in less than two years.
Of course I am thrilled to be pregnant and this one seems to have taken. I am almost eleven weeks along and things are going well.
But once again, pregnancy is wrecking my already thin hair. I am shedding like crazy and I can see more and more scalp each week that goes by.
I sat in my OB’s office yesterday in tears but he said there was nothing to be done and that it was probably just hormones again.
So here I am, pregnant and losing my hair for the second time in my life.
I know I should stay focused on the positive and not let this get the best of me again.
My husband has a really hard time understanding why this is affecting me so badly.
He has been to war and seen people killed.
He says I have to find a way to get through this.
He says if a person can find a way to be happy in life after losing an arm or a leg, then I should be able to find a way to get through life with hair loss.
Deep down I know he is right.
I am not dying of cancer like many people I know. I can put on a wig and get on with life. But somehow I still struggle with this situation.
I tell my husband that when you lose a leg or an arm, it is usually instant. Unless you have some rare flesh eating bacteria or something similar, you normally don’t lose a limb one tiny piece at a time.
Something bad happens and it is gone. Just like that.
You have no choice but to deal with it in that moment.
With hair loss, it is different.
For most of us, we lose our hair slowly and painfully.
Every day I watch in anguish as handfuls fall out in the shower, in the comb, in my brushes and on the floor after styling.
It’s like a slow, painful torture.
When I try to explain this to my husband he just says he will get the clippers out right then and solve my problem. All my hair can be gone in minutes he says and then I will just have to deal with it.
Honestly, his solution sounds more and more tempting each day.
If I were back in the States and had better access to wigs and hair pieces, I would have done it a long time ago.
Being stuck in South Korea, I don’t have too many options for hair replacement other than the internet. It’s not like I can walk into a salon over here and ask for help. Most of the stylists don’t speak much English and I don’t think they would be much use in helping me find a wig.
I did order a wig and a topper online but they will take weeks to get here and then I may not like them. The restocking fees on those items are just ridiculous!
Luckily, my husband and I are going back to the States in September. There are several nice wig shops near where we will be living and I am hoping I can make it until then.
I never thought I would be able to bring myself to wear a wig or hair piece.
I am so thankful to Lauren and her blog for giving me hope that a hair piece may finally give me some peace.
I am so tired of agonizing about my thinning hair. It’s exhausting and robs me of my life.
I spend more time thinking about my hair than my family and that is just wrong.
That’s not what life is supposed to be about.
I know deep down I will always be sad about my hair loss.
But I hope that someday, I can find some peace and acceptance with it and get on with my life.