My Hair Loss Journey: Turning a Negative into a Positive, Written by @shannon2point0
Meet @shannon2point0! New to the world of quality alternative hair, proudly toppers and wigs since September 2019
Real talk - hair loss isn’t something anyone, male or female, has ever wanted in life. I definitely did not think that by age 40, I would be mostly bald. I experienced some traumatic events in my 30s, and took birth control pills for 20+ years. I started to notice my hair was getting thin around age 30. I mostly ignored my thin hair, pulling it back into a ponytail. Fake it till you make it, right?
In 2014, at age 39, I had Gastric Bypass Surgery (aka Weight Loss Surgery). This was medically by far the best life decision for me, as I was morbidly obese and in dire need of a health intervention. The malnutrition from the surgery caused my hair (mainly on the top of my head) to fall out at a very fast pace. I went to my Doctor, who sent me to a Dermatologist. The Dermatologist ran every blood panel possible on me to see if there was an underlying health issue causing my hair loss.
The verdict was in - I was healthy. I remember leaving the Dermatologist’s office in tears that day. That’s when the many treatments started. Starting with monthly kenalog injections into my head. That treatment was incredibly painful in the beginning, but gradually became easier to tolerate. Then began Minoxidil, liquid topical steroids, oral steroids, spironolactone, and I’m sure more that were also futile so therefore I do not even remember what they were.
The Struggle was Real - Mentally and Physically
While waiting for the treatments to kick in, I decided to look for a temporary solution to conceal my thin hair. I found a wig shop in my area, and ended up having a custom “topper” of sorts made for me. I wanted it medium brown, just like my own hair. This lady pressed me into getting dark blonde highlights. Okay, blonde highlights it is.
This hideous thing finally arrives - completely dark blonde. So she sends me to her friend’s salon in an attempt to fix the color. This lady botched my $600 hair!! Blotchy, stripey, uneven tones, just wretched. I had to spend $200 for a competent stylist to fix it. This piece was full lace, and the quality was straight garbage. I didn't know about purple shampoo, so eventually it turned brassy. Turns out, this wig shop had a similar complaint as mine on the Better Business Bureau’s website. I hid under that thing for about 2 years.
My mental state regarding my hair loss at this point was not in a good place. I felt many negative feelings about myself. Self degradation, shame, worry of being judged for my hair loss were daily mental beatdowns I administered to myself. The “why me” phase was painful. And feeling very much alone, as I didn't know any other women going through the same struggle.
After 4 years of futile treatment with my Dermatologist, we both decided I was not making the progress I desired. She referred me to a Hair Loss Specialist. This Specialist started me on a bunch of other treatments, including suggesting I purchase a rather expensive hair growth laser. I religiously used that laser for over a year, as well as using every additional treatment suggested by the Specialist. She took a scalp biopsy and sent it out to be tested.
The diagnosis was in - I have Androgenetic Alopecia. Finally! A diagnosis. After a year of basically no additional regrowth, the Specialist began to press me into trying PRP therapy. PRP, which stands for Platelet Rich Plasma, is a treatment that involves one’s blood being drawn, and plasma being separated off to later be injected into the scalp.
This treatment is not covered by insurance, not guaranteed to work, and is quite expensive. The package put together for me would’ve been $2,000 to start, and $800 a year every year thereafter to retain the results. When I told her I could buy a sweet wig for $2,000, she dismissively stated “Okay”. Okay, indeed. I fired that doctor. Bye, Felicia!
A Ray of Hope - Discovering other women suffering from hair loss
In August 2019, I was at rock bottom with my hair loss. Treatments were not successful. My previous experience with wearing hair was very much negative. I was sad, depressed. I felt ugly. Desperate for answers, I turned to Facebook. I found a support group for women who suffer from hair loss. This was HUGE. I discovered there are literally so many women, all over the world, who were going through the same thing.
But, there were differences. Many of these women had some pretty serious health issues causing their hair loss. Cancer, lupus, immunodeficiency, the list goes on. I am healthy, and half bald. And very few women actually achieved regrowth. This was a pivotal moment for me. I felt like an asshole, I am healthy and throwing myself a personal pity party on a daily basis, yet these women were fighting for their lives. Ughh. Time to count my blessings, make a plan to find a solution that makes me happy.
By this point, I was coating my head with tinted dry shampoo and fibers. Expensive, messy, and really only fooled myself with these products. At first they were a great solution. After a few years of using them as a crutch, I hated those products.
I found out there are brands of alternative hair that are high quality! And realistic! Seeing these women wearing really natural, gorgeous hair gave me a ton of inspiration. Down the rabbit hole of alternative hair was exciting and scary. What if I buy the wrong thing, again?
Finding and achieving peace with my hair loss
I ordered a very lovely topper, and was waiting for it to arrive. I remember thinking to myself “I wish I could have the confidence to wear hair like those other women”. Then, I thought “Hey, why can’t I be that confident??”. At that point, I decided it was time to set myself free from the shame and mental self bashing, and rise up in confidence. Sure, it took having the right hair for me, but I did it. Letting go of chasing the treatments that don’t exist, and embracing wearing hair, was truly amazing. It felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I am thankful for my hair loss.
Through going public with it on social media, I have made some really amazing friends who I would’ve never met had I not taken charge of my hair loss. I am grateful for my toppers, they look 100% more beautiful than my hair ever looked prior to experiencing hair loss. I enjoy having the freedom to change up my look whenever I want. I am blessed to have a great support system, my husband has been truly wonderful. As have my friends and family. I have had nothing but love and support throughout this entire experience.
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