By: Ava Alderman: It’s very normal to be overly self conscious when you are struggling with hair loss or with shedding from conditions like telogen effluvium. I know from experience that you are often worried that everyone is looking at you and wondering what is going on with your hair. You might imagine that people are staring at thin areas or are noticing your experimentation with different styles and camouflage. Some people are better able to deal with this than others. Some take it all in stride, while others experience quite a bit of distress over it.
In fact, some people will become so affected by this process that they will feel bad about their appearance and consider themselves ugly. Needless to say, this makes a bad situation worse.
Someone might say: “I have always been pretty comfortable with my appearance until now. I’m honestly not a vain person. I would be perfectly content with looking merely normal. I have always had pretty hair. I used to get compliments on it. But then I got telogen effluvium when I switched birth control pills. My doctor assured me that the shedding would stop in weeks. But months went by. He told me that three months was the mean duration of telogen effluvium. I am at four months. And although my shedding is sometimes better, I’m still losing more hair than normal and my hair looks absolutely awful. It used to be shiny and now it is dry and dull. Because I couldn’t take the long hairs anymore, I cut it short. Well, I look totally awful with short hair. And the short length just showcases how thin my hair is. At least before I could put in a ponytail. Now it is too short for that. I always worry about bald spots. I always think that people are starring at it. I feel that it’s more noticeable than before. And I never thought that this would be possible. And now, for the first time in my life, I feel ugly. I don’t want to go out nearly as much. I don’t participate in life nearly as much. Because I don’t have the confidence that I once had. How do I get that confidence back? Because I am very tired of living like this.”
I am so sorry that you are going through this. I have been where you are. I know how you feel. And I am going to share some things that helped me to get through it. First of all, telogen effluvium eventually ends. Now, some of us get the chronic variety which means that it does not always end as soon as we want it to. But if we are able to look on the bright side, we can realize that at least telogen effluvium means that our follicles should not be damaged — so that when we get over this, we should be able to go right back to producing the healthy hair we have always had. Yes, it may take a while and that stinks. But it should also happen eventually.
I know that you are self conscious about your short hair. (I didn’t like my short hair experiment, either.) Try to grow it out in a blunt bob. I found that to be the best cut for making your hair look more thick. I also want you to be aware that sometimes, when we go through something as traumatic as this, we lose perspective a bit. I could not stop complaining about how hideous my hair was when I had CTE and yet, when I look back at pictures from that time, it is not as bad as I remembered. Does my hair look different? Yes. Is it more thin? Absolutely. But it is not so bad that people were going to recoil in horror as I remembered it. And I think it’s possible that the same is true here. We have a tendency to think the worst.
I found it helpful to make the most of what I could. I played up my eyes. I worked out and developed ripped arms, which I enjoyed showing off. I played up my fit body and best features and tried to take the attention off of my hair. There are also colored powders just for hair to cover any bald spots.
And make no mistake. There are MANY beautiful women who have short hair. Think Halle Berry. Or Courtney Cox when her hair was short. Many of us tend to identify strongly with our hair. So when it is taken away, we struggle. But there is more to us than that. I know you have other attributes that you can play up while you’re waiting for your hair to grow back. And with TE, it SHOULD grow back. Always remember that. It isn’t gone forever. You just have to make the best of the waiting game while you’re dealing with it.
I know that it’s not easy. But focus on what you can – encouraging healthy regrowth and discouraging inflammation. I look back now at the all the time and turmoil I wasted on my hair. Those were months that I will never get back. My hair is back to a relatively normal situation now, but all the worry and distress didn’t do one thing to make it end any sooner. In fact, it probably delayed it. You can read more about my own recovery on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/