The leaves were falling from the trees, and so was the hair from my head.
This was to be my autumn, my season of change. I had started to come undone and this was the final crescendo.
Time to leave behind the old. To shed previous personas. To replenish and renew.
My hair had been falling out for months, but it was easier to be enveloped in fierce denial.
Waylaid wefts regularly started snaking down the plug-hole, swiftly followed by my salty tears.
Brushing became an impossible task as the remaining hair morphed into a matted mess from top to bottom. Detangling became de rigueur.
Spending 24/7 in the company of someone else for a week was the only way for things to come to a head, if you’ll pardon the pun.
Helped me to face the facts I’d been hiding from for so long, by handing me handfuls of my own hair.
My hair was falling out, and fast.
First I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness and fear. Exactly who are you when your crowning glory gets abdicated?
Stoic resolve soon followed, to try and heal myself for good. No more half-hearted attempts here.
Seems my body had taken to attacking itself again. Still waters run deep, right? Surviving stress. Dealing with death. Overworking. Being strong for others until you yourself break.
Though you try to keep it all in, it spills over in the end. Your scarred insides try to make their escape by any means.
See, these are the things Instagram doesn’t depict, although they’ll be etched into my existence forever.
My toes ejected their nails, blood crept from unexpected crevices, my bones ached inside my skin. Now my hair follicles were forsaking me.
My body was cutting off all supplies, shutting down. No more. Putting all its energy into keeping those vital organs intact. They are pretty vital, after all.
I became a master of disguising my ever-thinning tresses. Facing up to the facts by wearing my hair off my face. Attending weddings with a poorly disguised up-do and a distracting fascinator, while two feeble strands of hair limply hung where luscious locks once were.
Hacked off two inches at the hairdressers during a mortifying experience where a team of two tugged toughly through my hair, trying to make sense of my matted mess of a mane.
A trip to the doctor for samples of my scalp to be scraped, pills popped and topical medications meticulously painted on.
Slathering coconut oil onto my scalp and walking round looking like an oil rig. Rinsing with cider vinegar, smelling like a brewery.
Breathing in, breathing out. Taking one day at a time.
Fast forward three months and now the shedding mostly seems to have stopped. Hair loss halted, though the damage is done.
The remaining mane masks the gaps left by their comrades lost in arms. Lost in baths. Lost in brushes, and in sinks. On the carpet and floor. On jumpers and coats.
To be filed with all the life lessons I’m learning lately:
Patience is a virtue.
This too shall pass.
Nothing is permanent.
I’m understanding and embracing the cyclical rhythm of life. Things come, things go. My hair will eventually grow back. Maybe it’s time for a change. Time for a restyle, to stop hiding behind my hair.
Baby hairs have birthed now and I’ve never had more gratitude for those wispy face-framing wefts I once detested.
Little spikes of new hair are starting to fill the gaps.
Slowly, I’m learning to detach my self-worth from external indicators. I’m defined by more than my job title and my outfits. My mane isn’t my main attraction.
This is an important lesson to learn; to love yourself from inside out. To live in the moment. After all, you could be hair today, gone tomorrow.