Why Being Told I Was Going Bald Was the Best Thing that Ever Happened to Me

My Diagnosis

During my sophomore year of high school, I noticed that my hair had started falling out. It wasn’t like clumps of hair were coming out; it was more like I noticed after a while that I could see my scalp through my hair. Suddenly my once soft and shiny hair had turned dull, frizzy, brittle, and scary thin. I panicked and went to the dermatologist. There I received a biopsy, and eventually was diagnosed with a hormonal form of Alopecia. 

What is Alopecia?

Alopecia is an autoimmune disorder which causes extreme hair loss. This hair loss can happen in different forms depending on the type of alopecia you have; mine is just thinning all over my head, but some people will have big bald patches. There is no known cure for Alopecia and everyone has their own trigger. In high school, I was surrounded by beauty standards. Insta models filled my feed, and this left me feeling hopeless and embarrassed. My hair feels like such an important part of my identity, and, after a few months of wallowing and attempting medications and the dreaded Rogaine, I decided to fight like hell for it. 

My Health Plan:

This is where I turned my life around. I stopped using the Rogaine and the medication which wasn't even working and just forcing me to live with lots of unpleasant side-effects. I began a health journey in which I centered my entire life around my total health—not just my hair and scalp health--upon the advice of my new doctor.  I formatted my health regiment using the wellness wheel: 
First, I evaluated my emotional health. I was pretty healthy emotionally besides my high levels of stress. I am an advanced student; I always push myself to earn A’s and succeed at everything I try. This, of course, is impossible, so I experience a lot of stress. Some methods I tried to improve my stress levels were weekly hammocking hours, regular workouts, aromatherapy, a soothing cup of tea, and prayerful meditation.  
Next, I evaluated my intellectual health. As a student, I was pretty intellectually well at the time. However, I decided that revamping my studying methods may reduce my stress. I am an avid procrastinator, so I tried to work on that. I also spent more time on my hobbies. I love to read, knit, and spend time with my dogs, teaching them new things and taking them on new adventures. New and old hobbies are a very important part of intellectual health. Human beings are made to learn and grow daily. If you are not taking time to learn or improve on a skill daily, you are neglecting your brain. 
Then came Physical health. I knew that I needed to work out more. I had recently quit the soccer team to focus on my AP classes, so it was time to integrate exercise into my routine. I also discovered that the main cause of my alopecia was my diet. I am sensitive to dairy and many simple carbohydrates. I had to completely revamp my diet to be mainly protein and vegetable based with some fresh fruits here and there. This diet completely changed my life and how I feel daily. It is not easy to maintain as I am a pie lover….but most of the time I stick to it! Additionally, I included in natural hair and skin treatments and a more focused emphasis on hydration in my physical wellness plan. 
I was solid as far as my social health at the time. I spent a lot of time each week with my friends. We were all nerds, so between study dates and study breaks I had my social fill. Not to mention my family and I are extremely close, so there was always a healthy dose of family time too. The new struggle was fitting in social activity with all of my new health initiatives. That was quite the learning curve, but it turned out to be quite doable as my friends and family were all so supportive of my lifestyle changes. 
I was blessed with great environmental health from birth. As I mentioned before, I have a great family. My town and neighborhood were safe and well-maintained. My friends were supportive and constructive. My only environmental stressor was my room…. My room represents how full my brain is. If my head is full of stress and assignments, then my room is a pit. My dad literally used to pretend my room was an obstacle course and try and walk around it without disturbing any of the “land mines” as he called them. Annoying…just annoying. But! I learned to at least attempt to clean up my room and make my bed in the morning. I know now that cleaning up my environment is the first step in clearing up my mind. 
I have also been greatly blessed with financial health. My parents were hard workers that were able to provide for all of my needs and many of my wants. My job was school though, so I had to work hard to earn my pleasures. I also ended up working as a nanny for a year to make some spending money. This allowed me more freedom with my friends to further nurture my social wellness. 
Finally, I evaluated my spiritual health. My family has always been religious which provided me with the tools to really maintain my spiritual health. I have never felt alone or like a mistake or damaged because I have such strong faith. I know that this medical problem is something that I can handle and conquer. I know that I can gain a lot of grace from this experience. If you do not have a spiritual life, I urge you to look into one. I do not think I could have made it through this experience without mine.

 My Progress

Now, four years later, I have built up quite the health regiment… and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t! I must constantly reflect on the wellness wheel and make changes to my regiment as my life changes. You cannot just look at it once and then magically be healthy! I evaluate changes in my health every week. (Check out my post about wellness journaling which highlights this process in detail)  When I stick to my regiment, I see great hair growth, and, when I slack (which happens often…), I see a huge hair fall over time. Because I focused on total health, I also flourished in other ways. I am more fit, more confident, and just happier in general! In the end, it is about climbing out of that pit of disorganization and laziness and steering back on track every time I slack. I fail constantly and struggle daily, but I have managed to maintain hair growth so far. However, if I do end up going bald someday, you best believe I will rock every type of wig you can think of! If I had not been told that my body was sick and suffering, I never would have changed my lifestyle, and I probably would not be as happy and healthy as I am today.
If you are struggling with any health or wellness issue, I urge you to look at the problem from every angle. Use the wellness wheel you evaluate yourself. Then, with a lot of hard work and self-reflection, you will find that your life improves in many ways, and you will be able to fix problems you did not even realize you had.

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