11.07.2017

I Want to Stop Pulling My Hair


I've had long hair for the past 15 years. At first I romanticized the idea of replicating my mother's signature look in college, which back then literally meant ironing her waist length hair on an ironing board. Men and women often make comparisons between me and my mother, and every time they reference her exquisitely long, dark, "exotic" hair - their words, not mine. But who am I kidding? I convinced myself forever ago that long hair made me, and my mother, (and basically every woman) sexier. More desirable. And so after a rebellious cut that had me feeling less than attractive I began to grow it. And grow it. Daring to see just how long I could get it.

Sure, I liked the idea of looking like Mom, the former Hawaiian beauty queen, but the reality is that over time my hair became my security blanket. Having long hair gave me confidence and frankly it used to be fun. From victory rolls and braids to intricate up-dos, I've become pretty adept at styling it when I want to (aka have time and/or plans that don't include sitting around the house binging on true crime TV). But after years of dyeing, bleaching, refusals to get meaningful trims, and too much time lapsing between salon visits, the wreckage (i.e breakage) was not only noticeable, but also embarrassing. So now anyone who's seen me in the past five years knows that the trusty old top knot has become my signature style - more out of necessity than a fashion statement. What was once my pride and joy became an annoyance, a source of shame and the top knot became my answer for hiding all the imperfections, including the multiple inevitable dreadlocks lurking just beneath the surface.

I've been meaning to cut my hair for years. Well, yes and no. I've talked about it plenty of times. In fact one time while under the influence of psychedelics I made a bold declaration that my head was covered in a dead rat's nest, and so I made a commitment to everyone who had the misfortune of camping around us that I was going to swiftly and promptly cut my top knot off as soon as the music festival was over. However this promise quickly faded once the sun came up and the drugs began to wear off. I mean, why would I cut my precious hair? When of sound mind I couldn't fathom the idea.

But things began to change after the birth of my daughter. It started simply enough with the baby hairs on the back of my neck. What was supposed to be a fun hike with friends quickly turned unpleasant when my daughter, who was strapped into the hiking pack behind me, created a death grip around my ponytail with her tiny little fist. She refused to release my hair during the entire hike and the end result was more breakage which eventually morphed into a much deeper issue known as trichotillomania, also known as hair-pulling disorder. People who suffer from this mental disorder have recurrent, irresistible urges to pull out hair from their scalp, eyebrows or other areas of the body, despite trying to stop. Once I could feel the broken strands of hair along the back of my neck I developed an oddly satisfying (obsessive) urge to pull the strands out, almost as if getting rid of the hair completely would be better than having so much breakage. I could be anywhere; on the couch, in the car, talking to a person, when I would find myself inexplicably yanking out pieces of my hair. While it's not something I discussed with many people because I'm embarrassed, it seems that it's not uncommon for this mental disorder to pop up postpartum.

After that I decided to get the nape of my neck shaved, hoping that would tackle the issue. It was my sister who suggested I include the side of my head for the transformation. So I did, I got an undercut. And I'll tell you what, it was so freaking awesome. I loved having half of the hair on my head disappear without having to sacrifice the overall length, and guess what, I stopped pulling my hair out and I felt sexy again. Temporarily. Eventually my bad habit returned and I was back to square one, this time with less hair to pull.

So last January I made a New year's resolution to cut my hair. All of it. And just to make sure I would stick with the plan I made a commitment to donate it. For some reason I landed on the month of November as D-day, and to ensure my hair would be as healthy as possible I've since been conditioning and getting trims regularly in preparation. It wasn't easy finding an organization that would accept hair that's been previously treated and bleached with chemicals but I eventually discovered the non-profit Children With Hair Loss. CWHL provides human hair replacements at no cost to children and young adults facing medically-related hair loss due to cancer treatments, alopecia, trichotillomania, burns, etc. Their mission is "covering young heads to heal young hearts." For me it struck a chord. Not only do I value their work in providing hair at no cost,  but personally I would love nothing more than for my hair to wind up on the head of someone who possibly suffers from the same mental disorder I do.

 I placed my fate in the very capable hands of Courtney Rice, owner and hair savant of Sunday Morning Salon. I brought in a few inspiration pics and after a quick consult we got down to business. Specifically 12 inches of business. Now that it's all said and done the only thing I'm wondering is what the hell took me so long? (Pun intended) While it's still too early to tell if this move will help me with the trichotillomania, I do know I finally love my hair again - and that restores my confidence.



As always, thanks for listening. Feel free to weigh in on the results or with your own hair losses and victories.

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