I had normal hair for most of my childhood. When I was about 14-15 years old I went through a short period of trichotillomania – pulling out your own hair. This was triggered by me finding a really thick pure-white hair, pulling it out and liking how it felt in my fingers. I then started pulling out any thick dark hairs from the crown and top of my head.
It got to a point after a few months where my hair was visibly thinning. I was constantly playing with or pulling out my hair – most of the time I wasn’t even aware I was doing it. I saw my GP who ended up hypnotising me to help stop pulling. This helped a lot and I started to become more aware of when I was pulling. I eventually stopped pulling, but my hair never really grew back to the ‘normal’ thickness it had been before. For years, I beat myself up that I had caused my hair to permanently thin. I had never really heard of alopecia.
A lack of regrowth
As I got into my mid-twenties, I noticed that my hair was thinning and I started to do a bit more research about trichotillomania and regrowth. I discovered that for many women, their hair will grow back once they have stopped regular pulling. I also discovered that my Granny had hair loss and had been wearing a wig since she was in her 40s (she had androgenetic alopecia, which I didn’t realise until after I got my diagnosis – see below). I started using brown dry shampoo to make my hair look thicker and cover the thin areas.
A diagnosis at last…
I now know that I have androgenetic alopecia, which is also known as female pattern baldness. It is likely that my hair would have always thinned eventually, but I exacerbated the process by pulling it out. I got my AA diagnosis from mt GP after I had my daughter in 2016. It was suggested that I try medication to treat it – or at least maintain the hair I had left – but unfortunately, the correct dosage for women was only available in the contraceptive pill. I am not able to take the combined contraceptive pill, as it gives me visual migraines. So that avenue was closed to me.
Post-partum hair loss
My hair did seem a little bit thicker during my pregnancy, but this is because the hair stays longer in the growing phase of its cycle, which means that less hair falls out than usual. It is normal for women to have a shed of hair about 3-6 months after the baby is born, as it goes back to its normal cycle. This happened to me, but I shed a substantial amount of hair and then it never grew back. I reached a point where I was using brown hair spray or dry shampoo to cover most of the top of my scalp and my hair still looked thin.
The turning point
A critical turning point for me was my best friend’s wedding in the summer of 2017, where I was asked to be a bridesmaid. The thought of everyone looking at my hair and taking photos was too much. That’s when I started to do some research online and discovered the world of toppers.
I have been wearing toppers full time since 2017, but I only ‘came out’ about my hair loss to my wider circle of friends and acquaintances in the summer of 2019 when I set up my hair loss account on Instagram. I have resigned myself to the fact that my hair will never grow back and so I am slowly finding my way with both synthetic and human-hair toppers and wigs.
Read more about my hair loss journey here: http://herhairmyhead.co.uk/my-hair-loss-journey-so-far