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Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on this blog are free of gluten, peanuts, soy, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, shellfish, cane sugar, oranges, and yeast. Most recipes are also free of egg, dairy, and tree nuts (if used, reliable substitutions will be provided for these when possible). Check out my recipe index for a full list of recipes by category. 

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Tuesday
Jan132009

When a bad hair day just isn't so bad after all.

My hair is driving me crazy. It feels overgrown. Heavy. A little out of my control. Despite a deep desire to keep my shaggy, full haircut, in this moment, I want to chop it off and release my head from the prison that is this heavy mop.

And you know what? I couldn't be more pleased about feeling like this. In fact, it almost makes me giddy.

I've always had thick hair, full of body and volume that hairdressers and stylists envied and complimented. It would grow like grass. It is easy to style - wash and drip dry, throw in a little styling wax. I don't even own a brush or a comb. Sometimes it is curly, sometimes it is straight, and I just let it do what it wants. It would get so thick and full of body that I would find myself weilding a scissors in front of the bathroom mirror, usually late at night, unable to deal with the thick mop for another week or two before my next hair cut. I'd gotten used to the ease of thick, volume filled hair, and liked it.

But last summer it started falling out. At first I thought maybe it just seemed like I was losing more hair because my hair was longer than it had been in years - I was on a mission to grow it out. Soon enough though, it became apparent that I was definitely losing more than usual - it was coming out in globs. I already felt unhealthy enough at that time, the last thing I wanted was to start losing my hair. But, it was happening, and there was little I could do about it. The harsh truth was truly brought to my attention when I tried cleaning out my drain screen and found more hair caught up in it than my father has on his entire head (love you, dad). I shreaked. And it kept getting worse. Soon it was like handfuls each time I'd shampoo. I could start to see my scalp between my hair follicles. My normally heavy bangs were suddenly a little stringy. It didn't seem to be growing at all, just falling out. And my drain screen kept clogging up faster and faster. I was totally freaked. My hair looked bad, and made me feel even worse. I resigned to pinning it back, wearing lots of headbands and scarves again.

I was losing weight, I was losing energy, I was losing the lifestyle I was used to, I was losing foods I loved, and now, I was also losing hair. Lots of it. Fuck.

My acupuncturist and naturopath told me hair loss was not unusual, that it would keep falling out for 4-5 months, and then slow down. Stress, rapid weight loss, poor digestion, prolonged illness, allergies, and a Candida Albicans overgrowth can all cause hair loss, and I had them all. Be patient, they told me, the loss will slow and it will regrow. They told me not to freak out, and told me that I was doing everything right to get my body back on track. However, losing lots of hair is, put frankly, totally FREAKY. So, sometimes I would freak out. I remember crying one day after getting out of the shower. Both my sink and bath drains were massively clogged, there was hair all over my sink and in the tub, and running my hands through my hair resulted in mats in both hands. It felt like hairs were just leaping out of my head.

So, I decided I needed to chop off my hair. It looked like crap anyway; the long, thin strands made me feel deficient and unattractive. It's not like I had bald spots or anything, or even that people would necessarily notice unless they really paid attention - I still had plenty of hair on my head. But I had lost a lot of what I had, and for me, it was weird and uncomfortable and scary. I needed a change. I gave up on growing it out, and went back to my usual short bob. My trusty and fabulous stylist agreed that I'd lost a lot, but he said he saw lots of short little hairs popping up through my scalp. He said it wasn't really thin by normal people standards - it was just thin for me. We laughed, joking that it was a good thing I had such thick hair, otherwise it would be a whole different story. He told me to be patient, because there was regrowth, a great sign. My new haircut looked hot, the shorter style made it look thicker, and it felt good to have a fresh start.

About a month ago, my 5 month hair loss streak started to slow. I started noticing more short hairs sprouting up too, creating a soft halo around my head. It started to feel thicker, not just look it. I found myself getting irritated with my hair a couple weeks before my haircut, just like the old days. My friend Amy told me that my hair was starting to have that full, crazy look that she always knew. And when I was home at Christmas, my mom said it felt thicker and looked shinier.

A couple weeks ago I got some Drano and cleared out my bathroom sink drain once and for all. One bottle didn't cut it. I need to go back and get more. My mom recommended the Foaming Pipe Snake for really bad clogs. I think I probably have a hampster size glob of hair left in that drain.

Back to today. My hair is driving me nuts. There is a thick wing that used to be nicely textured and nicely shaped, and now it has turned into a heavy blob next to my bangs. Sure, part of that is the fault of a warm winter hat squishing damp, post-shower hair. But it is also due to a much anticipated regrowth. But these bad, out-of-control hair days don't seem so bad to me right now, actually; each one is kind of a nice reminder that - YES! - my hair is growing back! I'll be so happy when it all grows in, but for more than just vanity. For me, the hair regrowth is a slow but sure sign that my body is healing, from the top of my head to the tips of my fingers and toes. And I mean that literally - my nails are thicker, stronger, and growing much faster than they had been, and my fingertips and knuckles are no longer peeling, cracking, and bleeding. It's funny; I feel like I notice healing in those small, slow things a body does almost more than anywhere else.

Sure, my hair is not back to 100%. But neither am I. This day will come, I know that it will, all in due time. Each 6-week block between haircuts is another 6 weeks of healing and positive change, and another day closer to my health being better than every. With each trim that comes and goes, I'm losing fear, concern, anxiety, and gaining reassurance, health, hope, knowledge, strength, and - of course - a new, cuter haircut. Yeah, I know that sounds totally corny. But man, is it ever nice to feel like I finally have something to gain, and not just a whole lot to lose.

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Reader Comments (2)

Hi Kim,
Thanks for sharing your hair experience. It happened to me too, and it was very freaky and stressful. Like you, it correlated with stress, candida, poor health in general... Like you, I got through it. As women, we don't hear these kinds of stories, we only hear about men losing their hair...

By the way, you rock, hair or no hair. I love your blog, and your creative healthy recipes :)

Patty

January 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPatty

Patty, thank you for your supportive words and for reading (and loving!) the blog! It really means a lot to know that you enjoy it,thanks. I feel like women need to share their experiences with health issues; we all need to share knowledge, stick together, and support each other when we can! I'm glad you made it through to the other side, it helps to keep me going! :)

January 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKim
Sorry, no comments/questions allowed right now.
Hi reader! My schedule as full-time grad student with two part-time jobs doesn't allow me the time to manage comments. I hope you enjoy what you find and can figure out answers to any questions you may have. xo