I have genetic female hair loss.
There, I have named the elephant which has lived in the room with me for many years. The elephant all my friends have known about but which I haven't talked about with anyone but my closest family members.
It's a tough elephant to ignore but even tougher to acknowledge. It has been a very difficult decision to "come out" and discuss it in this way.
My first inkling that my hair was thinner than the norm was probably in my mid-teens when the hairdresser suggested keeping my cropped hair a little longer and not going for the flat top I wanted because my hair was too thin to carry it off. By my early 20s I knew it was more than just regular "thin" hair. I would say by the time I was 30 I knew I was a freak.
As a woman hair loss is a heavy burden to carry. I think it's very different to male hair loss which is undoubtedly difficult for any man but is certainly much more socially understood and accepted. A woman's hair is part of her image, her style, her personality, her ego. Somewhere deep inside, every woman, even a cynical old bitch like me, imagines herself the beautiful princess, beautiful face and long flowing hair, irrisitable to her Prince Charming.
Over the years I have tried different things to mask this problem, all with little success I fear. I have been to see the specialists, I have Googled all the important words in the hope of finding the magical cure (they can fly men to moon after all...).
About three months ago I finally bit the bullet and ordered what the gorgeous Andrew from Transitions Hair calls a hair "enhancement". Bluntly speaking this is a glorified toupe (you don't know how it hurts me to write those words), a wig of sorts.
Last Friday it finally arrived and I had my "fitting" which meant having my hair cut and the new hair cut into a style which is managable and suits me. I am generally happy with the result and I think I look fine, though it is physically something that will take some time to get used to wearing.
Since then I have been a bit of an anxious wreck. I feel that everyone is looking at me and wondering why I am wearing a wig (does she have cancer? what is wrong with that woman?). I am not normally an anxious person but since menopause my anxiety levels are much, much higher and this issue is very close to the bone. As such I am hypersensitive right now and a little paranoid, never far from tears.
There is part of me which wants to explain the truth to everyone I come across, there is a part of me which thinks I am overreacting, there is part of me which is angry and embaressed and generally pissed off, another part hates that this is so painful for me (after all, I have all my limbs intact, as Mr Fawlty would say), a tiny part wants to lock myself away indoors and never come out. But the main part of me just soldiers on, carrying on with my life, smiling into the bemused, questioning faces I have come across at work and at school every day this week.
The reason I finally decided to expose myself here was that this is really the bottom line of what blogging is meant to be about. It's not just about my obsession with Robbie Williams and reality tv, it's not just about my rambling political ideas or why my kids are driving me nuts this week. It's also about the tough stuff. My inspiration has been my friend Kath in Melbourne who has been brutally honest about her own issues and I applaud her for that. It is bloody hard to reveal your deepest self to a public audience. But as I gain comfort, strength and knowledge from reading about other people's trials and tribulations I hope that others may do so from reading about my own.
If nothing else this new fangled young people's internet allows us to find our communities and to make connections we couldn't have imagined 20 years ago. Maybe writing about this is just further humiliation but hopefully by being brave I can say "it's OK, you're not alone". Because this problem, so huge to me and yet so insignificant in the big scheme of things, often makes me feel very alone and it's a feeling I fear and loathe.