Coping with hair loss
by Rebecca Dawe
Losing your hair isn’t easy to come to terms with, now more than ever. Our image-obsessed, selfie-crazed society leaves even the fairest faced amongst us insecure. It’s no surprise then that when you lose your hair many experience depression and fear. Worst of all, you don’t accept yourself.
I’m here to tell you that acceptance will come if you want it, with time, but first there is a grieving process. Me and thousands of women like me live very happy lives and our lack of hair doesn’t stop us from doing or being anything we choose. In fact we are grateful to our alopecia for the positive changes it has brought us. I know it might sound very hard to believe but trust me, it is possible.
The Grieving Process
Hairloss doesn’t hurt you physically however, it can be one of the most traumatic experiences you will ever face.
Losing your hair is devastating. Your hair represents your personality, your identity and health and this is one of the reasons I post lots of pictures showcasing different styles; to demonstrate how different you appear by just changing your hair. To lose it utterly transforms your appearance.
The grieving process is the same kind you will experience for any kind of loss and there is no right way or wrong way to feel and no particular order. A certain feeling or stage will sit longer with some than others and these stages include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally, acceptance. It’s worthwhile reminding yourself that you can’t control your feelings, they are not good, bad, right or wrong. We are not supposed to feel a certain way. Your feelings are controlled by your biology and your life experiences. What I’m trying to say is that you can just accept them and know that they are transient and always moving. There is no point in punishing yourself or feeling guilty for something that is out of your control.
Only our actions can be wrong. Never our thoughts or feelings.
It’s not your fault your hair has fallen out and you will probably never know why it happened. The future is uncertain now and feels scary and out of control, you will waste a lot of time and tears trying to control life.
The only thing that we can truly control is our commitment to something and doing something will give you your life back so what you do next determines how you’re going to handle it. You can decide to let it take over your life or you can use that panic to fuel your recovery. When I’m talking about recovery, I mean going on to live happily in your own skin even if, like me, you were never happy in the first place. Losing my hair, ironically, taught me to love what’s on the outside and even better, it’s helping me to really value who I am inside too.
It’s extremely self destructive to believe we should be more than we are however, when we make the most of what we have, it turns into more. The ultimate aim is to give up our fictitious sense of identity so we can do and be whatever
we choose to be.
How to Feel Better
It’s time to start caring for yourself and working on that confidence!
It’s not selfish to spend some time focusing on yourself and you mustn’t feel guilty as everyone around you benefits if you’re happy. Often doing just one thing will have such a positive effect it snowballs and you’ll find you want to do more things for yourself.
Here are some suggestions for a starting point:
- Meet others like you. Online forums are a fantastic way to realise that you are far from alone. Many thousands of women live with hairloss and understand what you’re going through. Alopecia UK is an amazing charity with a fabulous Facebook forum and I highly recommend the face-to-face meet ups which happen in many areas throughout the country.
- Clothes, accessories, makeup and skin care can totally transform how confident you feel. You can learn about makeup, colours and styling very easily and it’s a lot of fun.
- Small acts of generosity give you a buzz. Even if you don’t feel great, doing something for someone else can really help to restore your sense of self worth.
- Investigate stress relieving activities like massage, meditation, therapies and exercise.
- Start a new hobby or do more of what you enjoy. It’s good to try and externalise your thoughtsand focus more.
- An obvious one, but improving what you eat and drink and how much you sleep will give you more energy to focus on feeling better again.
- Spend lots of time with friends and family (the positive relationships). It’s extraordinarily humbling how much those who love you want to help so let them, it’s good for both of you.
- Decide if and how you are going to cover your hair loss. There are lots of options and when you find something thatworks it can be transformational. It’s even better when you can do it with an open mind and a smile!