When dealing with hair loss for whatever reason, it is often the case that your friends and family won’t know what to say to you. There will be a range of thoughts and feelings on both sides. If your spouse or partner is struggling with how to help you, here are some suggestions that might help.
- Be honest about your feelings and ask them to listen to those feelings without judgment. Hair loss can elicit strong emotions as it signals a change in appearance that may impact self-esteem. Those emotions might present in different ways. Explain that you need time to deal with this and that your mood might be somewhat rocky for a bit.
- Explain that you need time and support and let them know what they can do to help in that regard.
- Ask for what you really need. Do you need financial help to afford a wig or someone to help you find places that sell wigs? Do you need help talking to your insurance company about reimbursement for wig costs due to a health condition?
- Keep the lines of communication open. The loss of your hair and/or changes in a health condition will be new to your family members and/or friends too. Most likely they will have no idea how to help you or what to say or do. Don’t withdraw from your family and friends, they can be your support system, but they will need to know how to do that. They will be looking to you to tell them.
- Don’t become a recluse. Be kind to yourself—exercise, practice meditation, listen to music or engage in other activities that can keep your emotions in balance. But don’t hide away and carry this challenge alone.
- Find a support group. Until you feel comfortable with wig-wearing, participate online with those going through the same thing. (WigStudio1 has a fabulous Facebook group). You will not only get emotional support, but you will also get a real wig education. You can benefit from the experience of others, not only in dealing with hair loss but in getting to know all about wigs. It’s a priceless resource.
- Baby Steps. Know that it gets easier! Feelings about hair loss may change over time. You will become comfortable wearing a wig, and not just comfortable but secure about how you look. It is easier for some than others to adapt, but everyone does eventually. You will come to see that you, the real you, is still there no matter what is left of your bio hair or what wig you are wearing. You are not your hair.
- Talking to Children about your hair loss: It may be helpful to keep in mind that children benefit from simple and clear explanations that are easy to understand. (You know your children or the young people in your family best).
The American Cancer Society often reminds patients to provide concrete, age-appropriate information when speaking about a health issue, including your hair loss, to your children or younger family members. Some children will want to hear more detailed scientific explanations, and others will be satisfied with general information. Answer the children’s questions as accurately as possible. Take their age and prior experiences with illness into account. If your loss is due to cancer, Oncology social workers can help you to find the best ways of engaging in these conversations given your child’s age and developmental stage.
There is help and support out there so don’t try to do it all alone.
Wishing you a happy and productive autumn and remember to check out the WigStudio1 Facebook group. And happy wig buying. So many wigs, so little time…
Until next week,