Dealing with the Psychological Challenges of Hair Loss—Fear and Acceptance
(Wig shown above: BECKY WIG BY RENE OF PARIS)
When I started this blog months ago, I tried to tackle the feelings, questions, and frustrations that most all women deal with as they go through the process of realizing that they will lose their hair—forever. I would expect the feelings and process is very similar for men as well.
After writing my blog, getting feedback from real wig-wearing women, and learning from those experiences, I wanted to share what I have learned in the hopes that it will help someone out there who is reading this.
Not all hair loss is forever, of course. There are many reasons a person can lose their hair. The shock, loss, and the necessity to learn coping skills are just as traumatic whether you think the loss is temporary or permanent when it first happens.
At first, you may notice a little thinning, then more, and there is hair in the brush and hair in the shower—much more than you have ever seen. Now, you panic. What could be wrong with you? And then it begins, the search for answers, trips to the doctor or doctors. Some get that diagnosis that they dreaded most. They are told that their hair will continue to fall out and it will never grow back. As we know many conditions can cause this, so I won’t go into all that here. I was disappointed in my experience with the medical community. In the end, I had to be my detective, comforter, advisor, because no one had answers for me.
Once I figured out my issue and made my own diagnosis from my research (good research, not from the weird internet sites and YouTube), I felt better. While I didn’t want it to be true, at least I had an answer of sorts and knew it was time for the next step. That is where I found the world of wigs.
Since I had a background in research, I began to research wigs the same way I had researched hair loss. Once I settled on the right wig for me, it didn’t take me long to get over the fact that I was now a wig-wearer—every day. Very soon in the process, I stopped thinking about it and wondered if anyone could tell. The only looks and compliments that were coming my way were all about how much they liked my color, cut, etc. I never told anyone outside my immediate family and best friend. No one. I had more than one person every week ask me who did my hair. I knew then that I had found the right wig, and then was able to branch out as time went on and I gained confidence in my ability to pick the best styles, color, brand, cap, etc.
The challenges will be different for everyone. The acceptance process will be different for everyone also. No matter if you are an introvert or extrovert, or always confident or not so much, losing one’s hair is a huge issue. Your hair has been with you all your life, it has been a part of your identity, the way people see you, and who they think you are to some degree. You’re the girl, lady, woman with the long brown hair and silly laugh, or the person with the cute blonde pixie and full of energy. People see you and your hair is part of it. Now your hair is betraying you—your body is betraying you. How you deal with that can make a big difference in your life, but you will need to deal with that, and how you do that will depend not only on the reason for your hair loss but how much support you have. I am not a psychologist, but one of my best friends is, and I didn’t even talk to her about my experience for a long time, and after I had dealt with it all myself. If you have someone to talk to it can help, even if they know nothing about wigs. Wigs are done so well now that there is no reason for you to ever tell anyone that you are wearing a wig unless you want to do that. Ask for help if you need it, that is the most important thing.
Until next week,
The Psychological Challenges of Hair Loss—and Acceptance
Hi, I hope that all of you will see this weekly blog not only as a source of information but as a place to ask questions. If I can’t answer every one of them, I will find the answer. You will get facts about hair loss, wigs, and wig care, along with my personal experience, my trial and errors, and how I learned that asking questions saves you a lot of time and money. I had to take this journey alone and I don’t want anyone else to do it that way.
As a way of introduction, I will share a bit of my journey here, but I know that everyone has a story, and your story may be very different from mine. I promise you that future blogs won’t be all about me. I want it to be about you and your stories if you want to share, and all about how wigs can help you enhance your look and give you back your confidence. There is more than one reason for wearing a wig, and for some of you reading this, you might just like wearing wigs for the convenience and to change up your look. Some of you may be going through a health challenge that will resolve and your hair loss might resolve along with it. Whatever your reason, I hope this blog will become a resource for you.
As you all likely know by now, there are many reasons for hair loss, and I will be talking about them in my blogs to follow. My loss started some weeks after I had surgery, a hysterectomy. I will never forget looking down in the shower and seeing long strands of my hair, lots of it, on the shower floor. I could hardly believe what I was seeing. Shock, confusion, worry, all those things followed and eventually led me to a doctor—the first of several visits looking for answers. On this first visit, I was told it was only temporary due to the hormonal shift post-surgery and it would grow back. It never really did. The tremendous volume of shedding eased up, but I was thirty-three years old and before that, I had a lot of hair. Fine though my hair was, I had always had plenty of it. As time went on my hair just seemed to get even more fine, and the thinning-shedding kicked in again when I was fifty. I tried a few over-the-counter things along the way, which did not help at all. I bounced around from denial to hoping for a miracle. Neither state of mind was a good one.
One day, the day that deep down I knew would always come, I accepted that I couldn’t go on as I was because I had started to notice that people’s eyes began to look more often at my hair. Every week it took me longer to do all kinds of things to cover the thinning areas every morning before I could go to work. I couldn’t kid myself about this any longer, I was losing my hair, and likely forever. But optimists don’t even up easily. So, surely, this could be fixed somehow, I told myself. I decided to go to an expert, maybe a hair transplant was the answer. Yes, I was still in a bit of denial, and back to the doctor, I went. This time only to find a doctor who was not at all interested in me or my hair loss issues unless he could use me as a hair transplant patient. Once he looked at me for a grand total of two minutes, he decided I was not a candidate and that was it. He couldn’t get out of the exam room fast enough. I was a waste of his time. He had offered no help, hope, suggestions, or referrals, and I left there feeling more alone and disappointed than went I went in—and I was angry now, a new emotion to add to my list.
After I finally faced the fact that no one had answers or at least no answers that I wanted to hear, and that no help was coming, I did as much research as I could on my own. What I found was not good. It looked more and more as if I had the markers of male-pattern-baldness. And as bizarre as it sounds, a sense of calm settled over me that I still don’t totally understand to this day. I can only conclude that it was having an answer finally. Yes, it was a terrible answer, but at least I knew what I had to deal with, and I could go forward. I decided that if this was my fate then I would make the best of it. Yes, that old optimist gene kicked in and I welcomed it.
I started my wig research shortly after facing the facts. I first went with the topper. I learned early on that it was not for me. I did not have the skill to style it or attach it in such a way to make it look realistic. Some people do—I am not skilled in that way, and I graduated very quickly from a topper to a full wig. As luck would have it (and I felt I was due some by then), I was offered a new job at my former company. I had not seen them in years, and this was the perfect opportunity to go in with a new wig, a new look, and a new me. By then I had gone through several wigs and several styles and educated myself about fibers, caps, synthetic hair, friendly fibers-heat allowable hair, human hair, and the care of all of these. Sometimes it is helpful to be a writer and researcher.
Once I settled on the right wig for me, it didn’t take me long to get over the fact that I was “oh, I am wearing a wig.” Very soon in the process, I stopped thinking about it and wondering if anyone could tell. The only looks and compliments that were coming my way were all about how much they liked my color, cut, etc. I never told anyone outside my immediate family and best friend. No one. I had more than one person every week ask me who did my hair. I knew then that I had found the right wig. In this particular case, it was “Muse” by Raquel Welch. I have since branched out, but I still have the Muse wig in my collection, in two colors. This brings up another topic that I will address in my next blog or two. How to pick the right wig? Is it better to have two or three lower priced ones versus spending the money for a higher-end wig? I will tell you what I did and why in my next blog. One thing I will tell you now: ask the experts. When you are buying online that is so very important. Be sure that you understand the importance of cap construction, what you can live with or just can’t live with, your budget, the amount of wear you expect from a wig, and many other things that will make or break your wig experience.
That is my story, but the point of the title—the psychological challenges, well that is the “big story”, and the challenges will be different for everyone. The acceptance process will be different for everyone also. No matter if you are an introvert or extrovert, or always confident or not so much, losing one’s hair is a huge issue. Your hair has been with you all your life, it has been a part of your identity, the way people see you, and who they think you are to some degree. Now your own hair is betraying you—your body is betraying you. How you deal with that can make a big difference in your life, but you will need to deal with that, and how you do that will depend not only on the reason for your hair loss but how much support you have. I am not a psychologist, but one of my best friends is, and I didn’t even talk to her about my experience for a long time, and after I had dealt with it all myself. If you have someone to talk to it can really help, even if they know nothing about wigs. But to get real help for picking a wig.
I hope that my blog can help you going forward. In the meantime, if you are new to wig wearing, or not so new and still have questions, I am here to help, this company is focused on helping you on your journey and will assist you in finding the right wigs for you and your life. Wigs are done so well now that there is no reason for you to ever tell anyone that you are wearing a wig unless you want to do that.
Until next week, I’m looking good in my “The Real Deal” by Raquel Welch. In the meantime, please let me know what questions you would like to see covered in the upcoming blogs by emailing me at email@example.com.
If you have questions regarding an order, personal consultation, return, etc., please be sure to email firstname.lastname@example.org.