To shave or not to shave? Is that a question?! 

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Good morning, guys!

Well, I am saying morning….. but as I write this it is late o clock, and I am wide Awake!!!! Here comes some more chat from moi.

This article is something that is always a topic of conversation amongst the hairloss / alopecia community. So, I wanted to share my thoughts and a bit of the michelle brain with you guys.

So, article title – crazy? For some of you, you may think – it is obviously a question! What kind of title is this, michelle? You silly cookie! And may wonder my reasoning…..

Okay. So I feel this is actually a really personal, and very sensitive subject if I am totally honest with all of you.

I have spoken to so many people, and I love to listen to others. To hear how others feel and their thought processes. On any subject. Why? Because, we are different. We are individual. For me, this guides most of my reasoning for what is to come.

So for those of you who know my story, I shall apologise for repetition. This is for those who don’t. My hair loss is due to alopecia areata – and this began end of July, 2015. For me, it was rapid. The shaving topic for me was a suggestion raised by a work friend. I lost a large patch from the back of my head 31/07/2015. I tried to cover with a bandana and went to work. 2 days later I lost another huge patch front of my head. A work friend said to me “you could shave it off and raise money for charity. If it comes back, then it’ll all come back one length”

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I would have NEVER thought of shaving. I was a little distraught, as prior to the loss…… my scalp burned and itched with inflammation before the hair fell out – did you guys ever have this?

The rest of my scalp was beginning to tingle, and deep down I knew it was a matter of time before I lost it all. 

I raised the “shaving” topic with my husband and parents in a semi jocular manner; expecting them to tell me “don’t be ridiculous!” I was shocked and surprised by the reaction. My family saw that I was struggling with my hair loss (although only a couple of days in), and said “you do whatever suits you and do it for you- not others

This may be the best advice. In the history of the planet. Like, ever!

So I was hurting emotionally, but I decided to jump in feet first and broadcast via good old social media “ok so I have alopecia and so I’ve decided to shave my head and go for the MacMillan brave the shave….. if anyone wants to sponsor me, the link is below…..”

I was overwhelmed and astounded st the responses of so many. For me, shaving at this time was my way to focus on helping others and try shift my thoughts from my alopecia to trying to help someone else and also take control.

Control? With alopecia?!

That does sound contradictory. As you know, with alopecia (any form)….. we are not in control of the condition and what pattern it may or may not take. It is not predictable and we can not influence what happens physically to our hair. Can we have control?

For me, actively choosing to shave my head felt empowering. I felt that I was taking control of my alopecia, and removing my hair rather than the heartache of watching it come away in clumps, or be on my pillow as I woke in the morning (or up my husbands nose or on his pillow!)

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My hair continued to fall quickly and rather than strands of clumps, there were little short shaved spikes lying around. For me, it was easier to see small spikes than a lot of hair.

Does this mean we should shave? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t either.

I feel that whether to shave or not, it is so personal. Whether you have one or two small patches of alopecia areata / whether you have telegenic effluvium and fine hair….. whether you have a cicatricial alopecia or androgenetic…….. it is ALL ABOUT YOU!!!’

YOU are the most important person in your hair loss journey. You are!  You are the star in this path of life. 

Yes, I understand that we have families and friends. We have people at work and around us. It is not a decision for anyone to make – but for you. I feel it is good to speak to close loved ones and be allowed to voice your thoughts. Discuss your thinking with those you love. But let them be there as a support to you, a listening ear. Let yourself be the decision maker.

I wasn’t strong enough to watch my hair fall out as it was. For me, shaving was also the easiest option to handle the situation emotionally. 

I’ve seen girls with only a few strands of hair remaining and they refuse to cut them. I have SO MUCH RESPECT for those who can proudly sport their remaining hair. I think it is beautiful and marvellous.  I wish I had that strength back then. For me, shaving was absolutely the correct decision. I did what was best for me. That is why I believe it was the right thing to do. For me.

What I would say…… if you are contemplating “the shave” it is vital that the final decision is made based upon your heart and mind. Please don’t let anyone persuade you one way or another.

The truth -in my eyes- is that there is no right or wrong answer.  No one size will ever fit all. Why is that?…..

We are all individual. No one on this planet has your life experience and your soul. No one can ever know how you feel yourself- because they are not you. I think that everyone has the best intentions in making a recommendation of “go for it,” or “don’t do it” based upon their own experiences. If you want to shave and feel you are ready and want to get those clippers right now……. it can be empowering. It is also overwhelming.

If you are not 100% sure, or if it does not feel the correct time…… that you are not ready, please do not let someone try to persuade you. Because, if you do it and it is not the right decision – you could end up heart broken, and regretting the action.

I am not sure if I am being helpful, as all I am telling you is that I believe there isn’t a right or wrong decision with the “shave question.”

I believe that you need to allow yourself to feel the emotions that come with hair loss. YOU ARE ALLOWED TO GRIEVE THE LOSS OF YOUR HAIR! x

It can make you feel sad and depressed, anxious, worried, angry, helpless. These are powerful emotions. It is important that if you experience them, you speak to those around you and speak to your GP. It is NORMAL to feel really rotten, but there is help available.

We are not our hair…… have you heard this expression? I don’t know if I love or hate it! We are not defined by our hair – I wholeheartedly agree. What I do believe is this: we are used to seeing ourselves in mirrors / photos etc. What we see in a mirror is our reflection. It is us. Our looks form part of what we feel is our identity. When we lose our hair or our physical appearance changes……. I personally believe that has a HUGE impact upon our sense of self. Our sense of identity. I believe that when we lose our hair – we can feel like we are losing our identity. This is NOT vanity. When you look in a mirror and don’t know who is looking back – that is upsetting.

For me, there were so many emotions running riot In my body. This article has become lengthy, and I apologise.

I feel that the topic of shaving or not – it isn’t about the physical look. It is about our emotional wellbeing and how we are affected.

Alopecia is a strange condition to have, as it forces you to examine the real you. The you inside. The beautiful and wonderful person that is underneath. It is not easy, and I don’t want to pretend that it is a breeze. What I do know, is that there is support and you don’t need to walk this path alone.

For the most part, I am now hair free. I love my wee bald head. I don’t love the hair on my left big toe. But I am accepting of me. Strangely, I am more accepting of michelle now,  than I was a few stone lighter with my own bio hair!  Alopecia is a strange thing!

For those of you pondering the “do I shave?” Question, my final advice would be so: if you feel in your heart you want to shave and just want it done already- go for it. If you are unsure or not 100% about when – don’t do it. There is always the option to do it later, or never! You do not HAVE to shave. Likewise, you do not have to wait for any particular stage of loss to do so. 

If you feel it is what you want, let those around you know. Explain that you want to take control or whatever your rationale is. Likewise, if you don’t want to and others suggest…… explain it is not the answer for you. Those who love you just want to help most of the time. I always believe that people do have the best intent. Sometimes words and actions can come out the wrong way, but ultimately I’m sure you will be supported. Do. It feel selfish for putting g your own needs first. Only you have your life experience. Only you know your heart and mind. Only you know what is best for your beautiful and wonderful self.

If there is anything I haven’t covered or if you guys want to ask me anything, please do comment below and I will always respond x x x

I know this one is a lengthy article, but I wanted to try speak from my own heart (if that makes sense)

Sending you all the biggest hugs and love.

I’ll attach some photos of my journey of patches to loss- for me it was fast. For me, the hairline going was a strange one to get used to.

All my love as always x x x x

Michelle

Xxxxxxx

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