Neither Hair Nor There (update)

As your abilities begin to grow, your angelic side will start to manifest itself in more noticeable ways.”
“My angelic side. Great. Like I don’t have enough to deal with.”
“It’s not so bad,” Mom says. “You’ll learn to control it.”
“I’ll learn to control my hair?”
Cynthia Hand, Unearthly

Dearest Friend,

I come to you, at last, to give you the most wondrous news. My hair is growing back…all over, and not a bald spot in sight! If you wish to read about how this journey first began, please read here.

Last week, I had a follow-up Tricotest and hair check after my bout of trichotillomania. I say bout because I BELIEVE this is temporary and that my body, the perfect instrument that it is, was merely showing me something amiss in my mind, body, and/or life. Yes, something is amiss in each of these facets, but I am working on it!

Let me share with you what I have learned about my hair and myself on this journey. On October 26, 2018, I made an appointment at Hair Professionals for a free hair and scalp analysis for my specific needs. I was still cringing with shame and embarrassment after getting my hair lopped off at my sister’s salon only two weeks earlier.

The beautiful owner of this establishment clearly cares about each person who walks through the door. After I sat down in a chair and explained, truthfully, my hair loss reasons, she told me that I am not alone (statistics show that 35 million men and 21 million women have experienced hair loss), which is such a nice thing to hear when feeling vulnerable.

Her center sees women and men for all sorts of hair issues due to many reasons. Regardless, I could barely look at myself in the mirror without crying. I was told about different options, like getting fitted for a partial hair piece that uses real hair, but I ultimately decided on keeping what was left on my head and healing my scalp for long-term benefit by using high quality CR Lab products.

After my scalp, hair, and skin were analyzed, I found out that my scalp was stiff and that I was slightly dehydrated. Apparently a healthy, hydrated scalp is flexible, inviting healthy blood circulation, improving the quality and amount of hair coming in. Of course, a healthy diet goes hand in hand with creating a stronger support system.

My hair and scalp near the back of my head was the control group because this is the hair that is generally the fullest. It was measured at 56 when analyzed. The first blue bar in graph 1 shows where I measured at the front part of my scalp (43) and the green bar measures a little higher (48.)

I ended up purchasing the package deal for $666 (a 10% savings) that includes 4 special in-house treatments, a bottle of pre-treatment shampoo, and 10 vials of serum to be applied to my hair after I shampoo. The idea is to do one treatment at home and have the other done at the center by one of the professionals.

This may sound expensive, but in my mind, putting money towards your well-being is worth it. I’m reminded of the old L’Oréal slogan “Because I’m Worth It.” For me, putting money towards a goal helps keep me in line with the bigger picture, which is believing in myself to make strides toward hair growth. I’m banking on it!

A treatment at the center includes a pre-treatment that is massaged into your scalp and left on for 10 minutes, then washed out with the shampoo specifically for you. A laser treatment for the scalp is done next, and then something that can be described as a blood pressure apparatus for your head essentially squeezes and releases your scalp for better blood flow and receptivity of the products. Next, two different serums are applied to the scalp in the specified areas and massaged in, which is absolute heaven. A tingly sensation that erupts all over the scalp is a telltale sign the products are working. Hello, scalp!

The difference between the in-house treatment and doing it yourself at home are the special devices used at the center and the extra vial of serum they use for your leave-in treatment, giving your follicles and scalp an extra “oomph.”

The treatments are done two times a week, spaced out every few days. Of course, having your hair done by someone else always feels better, doesn’t it?

I have to admit, seeing my scalp up close and personal during the evaluation flipped a switch inside, showing me that my hair pulling had gotten out of control. Did I want to wear a wig for the rest of my life because of permanent damage I caused myself? I don’t think so. When I was told that when people have bald, shiny heads, it means that the hair follicle will no longer produce hair, I immediately asked, “So, do I have any shiny spots on my head?”

A microscopic picture of my scalp near the front hairline showed a few highlighted blue spots, a sign that DHT, an androgen hormone that plays a role in the development of male and female characteristics, was there. I was told that this was something to watch. Elevated levels of DHT also contribute to hair loss for both men and women. Men may notice changes in their hair when they are younger, while women may not notice thinning, shedding, and loss until later in life when hormones are shifting. Regular use of CR Lab products is said to block the DHT, preventing additional loss.

On my follow-up visit last week, my control group went up to 59, an increase of 3, which was surprising. Area 8, which is the front of my scalp (blue bar), went up to 75. Area 16, near the back of my scalp (green bar), was a 69. The owner and I were freakingly excited.

All in all, my hair and scalp seem to be happy with the changes I have been making. These positive results have helped boost my confidence and how I feel about myself. Over the last few months, I have learned ways to self-soothe, handle my anxiety, decrease it, work through old feelings as they flow in and out, become consciously aware of my thoughts and my body so I am less numb, and commit to reconnecting to activities I once loved before the trauma. I will expand on other health tips, coping mechanisms, and what to watch for as I walk on a road trich-free. I am a work in progress. I’m sure there will be bumps along the way, but not enough to make a detour.

As you can see, hair pulling is sometimes a symptom of something deeper. Hurting yourself is like picking at your skin, cutting, or bulimia: something you can control until it controls you.

Questions to Ponder for Purposeful Pluckers:

1.) Are you ready to admit you have a problem with trich and that it is interfering with your life happiness?

2) Do you want to change your behavior, thoughts, and/or your life that may be contributing to your hair loss?

3) Are you ready to get help in a support group with others, or assistance from a specialist?

Here are the pictures they took of me last week to show my five-month hair growth:

A

I AM resilient.

And, I believe in you.

Care to walk on a trich-free road with me?

Xoxo Amelie

 

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