A trip down memory lane
As a journalist/writer by trade, I quite often keep a diary and write blog posts about things I’m going through or feeling. I recently found this blog post that I wrote three years ago and it made me so sad to look back on it. It was a few months before I had discovered toppers.
I now know that I have androgenetic alopecia and I would have had thinning hair regardless of the fact I pulled some of it out. That makes me feel less guilty, although I likely started the thinning process earlier than it would have happened. I am resigned to the fact that my hair will never come back and will slowly get thinner over time, but I feel ok about that.
I have also found some of the confidence that I was lacking back then – but this is a work in progress. It has taken me more than 2 years to share my hair loss with people outside of my close family and friendship group. I was fed up with hiding it from people and worry about whether or not they could tell I was wearing a wig or topper. It feels like a breath of fresh air not to have to hide it and to be open when people compliment me on my fabulous hair!
Where has all my hair gone? My views on post-partum hair loss (written in 2016)
I have always had thin hair, ever since I was a teenager. It used to be normal, well as normal as you can get when your mum has cut your fringe into a half-moon shape and you look a bit like a monk.
When I was about 14 years old, I started pulling it out. The official name is Trichotillomania – the compulsive need to pull out hairs. I did this for about a year until people started to notice and say things to me at school. My parents took me to the doctors and I was hypnotised to try and get me to stop it. For the most part, it worked. I stopped pulling (maybe the odd one now and again as a treat – I know that sounds a bit strange). For most people who suffer from this disease, once they stop pulling, their hair will grow back. Mine didn’t. Well not properly anyway. It was never as thick as it had been. Many women suffer from this disease far worse than me and cannot fight the urge to pull. In some ways, I was very lucky to only go through it for a short time. But my hair never grew back to its normal thickness.
I was so frustrated, as other people had almost made themselves bald and their hair had grown back. So why hadn’t mine? I learned clever tricks to cover up the thin patches, such as brown dry shampoo, and, although I’ve never liked my hair, I have learned to live with it.
When I got pregnant, my hair looked amazing (for me anyway). It was much fuller and thicker. I was over the moon. Then, a few months after my daughter was born, it started falling out. It had lulled me into a false sense of security. When you have a newborn, your appearance tends to drop to the bottom of the pile. However, when you come out of that newborn fog and you start to get a little more sleep, you care more about these things. That’s when I noticed how thin my hair had become.
My post-partum hair loss at its worst
It can be normal for hair to fall out after pregnancy. Your hair goes into a sleeping phase and when it starts to shed post-pregnancy (around 3 months), it takes much longer to grow back. Many women end up looking a bit like a troll, with fluffy regrowth around their hairline. I got this, but it has continued to fall out at an alarming rate. It now looks so thin that I won’t leave the house without putting in my brown spray and even that isn’t making it look ‘normal’. I’m mostly struggling with my hairline at the front. I used to be able to put my hair in a side part and cover the bald patches, but my hairline has slipped back at the front and I can’t disguise it. I can’t even cut in a fringe to cover it, as there isn’t enough hair there.
The troll tufts…
I’m only 31, but I feel like an old woman. In the grand scheme of things, worrying about your hair shouldn’t be that important. I feel guilty for getting upset about it, particularly when other people go through things much worse than this. But it gets to me every day.
I’ve got an appointment with the doctors this afternoon and I decided to go out this morning with my natural hair. I felt awful and so self-conscious. My friends said it didn’t look that bad, but I know it did. I felt bare and vulnerable, and like all the other mums were staring at me.
There are supplements, shampoos and medication you can take to thicken your hair. However, these tend to get mixed reviews, with some women claiming they’ve worked miracles and others saying they noticed no difference. Many of these are extremely expensive and I can’t afford to spend £100 on something that ‘might‘ work. I feel lost and like there is no answer. I just want to feel confident and happy about my appearance. It is getting to the point where I don’t want to go out and try to look nice – what is the point when my hair lets me down?
I am lucky to have a loving husband who says that I’m beautiful and doesn’t care about my hair, but I care. It’s making me miserable.
So I wanted to reach out to those other women who are going through something similar and feel alone. Going through something that other people take for granted, but that when it has gone it has a huge impact on your life.
I’ve had blood tests through my GP and thankfully he is taking me seriously. The first step is to check whether it is hormonal, but as I am still having regular periods he doesn’t think it’s that. From examining my hair loss, my GP believes that I have the female version of male pattern hair loss. I’m basically going bald like an old man. This doesn’t fill me with hope, but at least if I know it is going to happen I can prepare for it. I want to be able to take control of my hair, even if that means buying a wig.
My best friend is getting married in the summer and I’m a bridesmaid. I’m terrified about being in a position where everyone is looking at you and taking photographs. I don’t want to spend the day worrying about how I look when I should be enjoying myself with my best mate. I need some kind of solution before then. Be it a hairpiece or wig.
More on my first topper in a future post…