Hair…it can be curly, straight, kinky or wavy. In my case, all of the above! Sometimes we don’t recognize when we as individuals adapt to the norms of what society wants us to be. I didn’t realize that I was concerned about this until I started to lose my hair. It was the summer of 2009 and oftentimes I’d find myself running my hands through my hair. Nervous habit? Perhaps; however, I wasn’t prepared for the amount of hair that I would start collecting. First there were strands, then there were clumps. I have very thick hair, so to the average person they wouldn’t have noticed a difference, but I did…each and everyday.
You all know that I learned about my thyroid disease while I was in Minnesota, but my endocrinologist in Detroit confirmed that my hair may continue to fall out as it adjusted to the medication (this was disheartening as I decided in my mind that all of my problems would go away once I received the diagnosis…boy was I wrong). I took a while to take a step back and just exist.
Just before I learned about my thyroid disease, 2009
I had to make a decision because I found myself getting really depressed. I thought to myself “What difference did it make if I lost all of my hair? If I lost my hair, I would still be myself, I’d still have friends and I may be a bit cooler in the summertime!” I stopped caring about what would happen if my hair wasn’t there. There are plenty of people out there that suffer with alopecia, hair loss due to cancer, lupus and the list can go one and on.
I gave up on the pressures associated with being a woman. I realized that I am who I am. Society doesn’t get to determine my level of femininity just because I lose, change, or decide to do nothing with my hair. I didn’t think I would be accepted because of it, which is absolutely ridiculous. Think about this question for a moment:
What fears are you holding onto that prevent you from being your best self?
I had to realize that I had to take care of myself, and that is exactly what I did. To get started, I did what comes naturally to me…I researched. I figured out what foods to eat. I tried to understand how my medication was making my hair fall out. I asked questions. I tried new things, including cutting off my hair! Okay…before I move on, kudos to those of you that have short hair. It’s definitely different and in some cases, more work.
My college graduation after I cut my hair, 2010
(and lost a lot of it…I didn’t really have eyebrows either)
I didn’t have that pressure to”be perfect” all of the time (there were still struggles, but more on that later). I decided that I needed to start small:
- I managed my stress better by creating lists, preparing for my day the night before and creating meaningful relationships.
- I exercised.
- I tried to eat a lot of protein and I took a hair, skin and nails vitamin (find one without added iodine as it may impact your thyroid function).
- I tried scalp massages and boy are they heavenly.
- I did a better job of taking care of my hair:
- I used a wide tooth comb to detangle my hair.
- I used a T-shirt to dry my hair since your hair can be very fragile when it’s wet.
- I talked to my doctor about the side effects of the medication and we adjusted accordingly.
- I tried to get my hair done professionally at least once a month for a trim.
- I stopped using shampoos and conditioners with sulfates. My hair is always dry, so I try to add as much moisture as I possibly can.
The day before my wedding. My hair grew back and I felt so much better, 2015
I know that it’s easier said than done, but you can do this. You are strong, capable and inspiring. Keep going. I know that at times you may not feel beautiful, but trust me, you have a friend sitting right here waiting to have a cup of coffee or tea with you to hear your story!
While you’re sipping your coffee or tea, listen to the episode:
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