My Hair Loss Story – Madison – Part 1
My name is Madison and my hair loss journey has really only just begun. I am a 30yrs old mother of three beautiful little boys and I have started to lose my hair. Well actually it started falling out in February 2016. I was about 7 months post partum with my third son and my hair started falling. Postpartum hair loss was not new to me, and the timing was bang on. I experienced a bit more than normal shedding through my first two pregnancies and expected the same with this one although when I started seeing patches of baldness I became concerned. Being afflicted with more than one immune disorder, I was convinced it was either my psoriasis or maybe even a lupus flare up that was causing the baldness, but still thought I could control this. So I did some research to promote hair regrowth (in normal situations of course) and stocked up on some Nioxin shampoo and silicone drops and was convinced it would start growing back that day.
Nothing to worry about, I’ve got this under control.
No luck. Something as simple as running my fingers through my hair would leave countless strands on my clothing and floor. And it didn’t stop there.
In less than a month 70% of my hair was gone. I was in shock, I didn’t know what to do and I didn’t know how I was going to face the world. Luckily it was still winter so I wore a toque without anyone questioning or noticing too much but it was when I finally got in to see my dermatologist that he confirmed the diagnosis. During that month, I had read quite a bit about hair loss, causes, treatments and ultimately diagnosis. Although I feared it was alopecia I was quietly hoping it was because then I would have an answer, maybe not a solution right away but at least an answer.
What I have is alopecia areata and the unpredictability of this disease is just beginning. I wasn’t shocked when I found out. All signs pointed to alopecia and genetically I’m surprised it took this long to rear its ugly baldhead. I developed psoriasis when I was 16yrs old and was diagnosed with lupus and antiphospholipid antibody syndrome (APS) at 23yrs old. Both were exposed through major ‘stresses’ to my body. I know it’s not clinically proven that stress can aggravate an autoimmune disorder but I believe for at each of my diagnosis there was a particular stressor to induce what was inevitable. So adding alopecia to the list wasn’t far off.
So what now?
I went through the ‘grieving’ stages of my hair fairly quickly. Not that I wasn’t attached to my hair, I genuinely was. But when the hair started falling out in clumps and the bald patches surpassed hair patches, the sight of my bare scalp sickened me. So after I saw my dermatologist I came home and shaved it off… actually my husband did it for me. I was convinced that this would empower me; this was a start to me being ok. But when he was done, I covered my head with a towel and refused to look in the mirror. I was scared. I was ashamed of what people might think and what I would look like. I’ve had hair my whole life and now, what was left of it was laying lifeless in the sink. My heart sank and I wondered if I had done the right thing. So I did what any sane, (now) bald women would do… I scooped up my hair, put a clip around it and left it on the counter for a few days, admiring what was no longer mine. Normal reaction right?!
When I finally got around to taking the towel off I looked at my boys first and watched them react to how I looked. At that moment, I didn’t need a mirror, I was at peace when their faces didn’t change…their eyes still looked at me with the exact same love they did when I had hair. I was still me and shaving my head was not going to change that. From that moment I knew that I had to be strong, I had to be ok with this because if I wasn’t, what kind of example was I going to be for my children. How can I teach them to love unconditionally and that beauty is more than hair if I couldn’t be ok with it. So when I looked in the mirror I accepted myself for who I was and what I was given. (And I did end up throwing my hair away shortly after.)
Even now sometimes my boys will reference the first time I shaved my head and say “Oh ya that’s when we were watching Spongebob” like it was nothing, just another day, although I don’t think they’ll ever forget that day and I know that I won’t. I came full circle of me being so ashamed to look up at myself to me knowing I was already good enough for the people who mattered most.
Some days suck though. Some days I just want to throw my hair up in a ponytail and look at myself in the mirror and see a full head of my own hair! I do get jealous of lusciously thick natural hair that I may never have. (But come on, everyone has a BAD HAIR DAY when its just not working for you and not even a ponytail can save you). So I feel sorry for myself every now and then but I don’t stay there. I allow myself a moment to wonder why me but know that I am stronger than to stay in that place of self pity, I come out of it, breathe, accept and know I’ll be ok.
Six months later my hair has started to grow back but the unpredictability doesn’t leave me with too many expectations. I opted out of any medical treatments to stimulate hair growth because I am still breastfeeding and also any medication or injections would have agitated my psoriasis so it really was a double edged sword for me. I may reconsider treatments in the future but I also may lean more to a natural approach, it all remains to be seen. Maybe one day I may have it all back, but maybe it will start to fall out again tomorrow. The fact is I am at peace with whatever happens because I know I have to be. I cannot let this take over my life and in the grand scheme of things, its just hair.