Over the past few days I have received a couple of replies from a query I posted in AlopeciaWorld.com. The query was about the most difficult things women newly diagnosed with hair loss have to work through.
These women focused on the anxiety of not knowing how much hair would be lost and whether or not their hair would regrow and stay put.
I addressed their concerns with the following registered copyright excerpt from Boldly Bald Women:
Yes, I Have No Hair Today…Maybe
You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give. – Eleanor Roosevelt
“This morning I made a cup of coffee, padded to the bathroom to shower, and sang happily as the water bounced off my bald head. When I’d finished showering, while brushing my teeth, I noticed a few blemishes on my face.
Looking closer, the front lighting of the mirror and the back lighting of the sun through the outside window merger, catching patches of colorless strands on my face where the breakouts were. HAIR! Not the fine, short downy hair that used to cover my face, but straggly goat beard hairs – the ones that had you grabbing for the tweezers back when hair was not a novelty. But these hairs looked confused. They were the non-color of clear fishing line and had no sense of uniformity at all!
The more I looked the more astounded I became. Nope, no nose hair, but there were ridges growing along the outside edges of my ears like transparent pine trees storming the heights of a barren mountainside. No eyebrows, but a patch of hair wannabes at the nape of my neck.
This has happened before. In the past all the new hair quickly fell out again leaving me once more smooth as a baby’s but and blemish free. What will happen this time?
Alopecia is fickle. If you let it, it will indifferently drive you crazy. Just when you’ve given up all hope, hair will grow back, stay for a while, or maybe forever, and fall out someplace else – or not. And when you’ve finally dared to breathe a sigh of relief because it’s all grown back and taken up permanent residence, whole communities just disappear, leaving bare patches of scalp behind like abandoned campsites. Or it may all leave en mass, and you stand looking in the mirror as a totally new personal landscape, trying to see if you are still in there somewhere.
One of the difficult aspects of alopecia is that you don’t get to grieve a loss, adjust to a change in you self-concept and physical appearance, and then move on with your life. It keeps you off balance and feeds both false hope and unfounded despair again, and again, and again, until the only thing you know for sure is nothing is for sure. And that certainty of uncertainty is called acceptance. It’s a good place to be, and it’s a hard place to remain centered.
For today, I feel okay about this new development, although honestly, I hope the little buggers decide to leave sooner rather than later. I’ve grown fond of my smooth skin and shining head.”
The chapter continues with more from the twenty five women from Alopecia World who shared their stories to help women struggling with the emotional and social impacts of hair loss. But this small sample provides a taste of the unpredictability of alopecia and why it is so important to get beyond the anxiety to reclaim joy.