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  • Regina Thomas

On a personal note: I'm balding. PCOS or Alopecia?



To be honest, I'm not really sure how to start this post. I suppose my reason for sharing such a personal part of my life in such a public way is that:


1. I've always been an 'open book'


and


2. I know that when I'm struggling with something, it's comforting to know that I'm not alone.


The last two months or so have been pretty rough....First, I broke my thumb and was out of work for three weeks. Then, my husband hit a deer driving to work in my two-door coupe- he's okay thank God, but the deer and my car-- not so much (he's hit two deer, I now call him The Deer Slayer). After that, I was so stressed out that I broke out in hives from head to toe and had to take steroids to get them under control.


Through all of that bullsh*t, I looked to other women who had overcome challenges and used their hurdles as motivation to keep moving forward. That being said, I think it's time that I share some of things that are happening in my life. Maybe my experiences will provide a little encouragement and help people to realize that growth and change are part of the human experience. Maybe my challenges will remind people that everyone has their struggles and empathy and humility can go a long way to bettering your human experience, as well as the experiences of others.


Here goes nothing.


I've always had stick-straight, fine, and thin hair-the trifecta of suckage, if you will. My lightweight hair didn't bother me as a child or even in high school (spoiler alert: I was a nerd, there was other good material to tease me about). It was in my early 20's that I started to notice that my hair had gone from lightweight to featherweight and I started to get concerned. When I say "get concerned" I mean I spent HOURS on the internet researching solutions and I also spent an embarrassing amount of money on supplements, shampoos, hair tonics, scalp solutions, etc. etc. etc., but nothing seemed to do the trick.


There were times when I convinced myself that my hair was looking better. I started cutting my once waist-length hair to chin length, added color, and learned the art of back combing.


Then, I started noticing more hair in the drain and in my brush than there was on my head.


I'd like to recount some of my most painful hair loss memories for you:


-I was sick at my mom's house and as my mom was holding back my hair, she commented, "oh my gosh, Regina, your hair has gotten so thin."


-I tried straightening my hair and at work the dude I had a crush on said, "that's not a good look for you, your hair is too thin."


-I was in a training and during a break a co-worker pulled me aside and said, "I don't know if you know this, but you have a bald spot on the back of your head and people are talking about it."


-An inmate (I worked at a jail for 8 years) said to me, "you look like that one Corporal, but your hair is much much thinner."


-I spent $200 at a fancy salon and when I went to work a co-worker touched my hair and gasped asking, "are you sick? Your hair is so thin!"


Those are just a few of the humiliating moments I've had with regard to my hair. Believe me when I say I was deeply hurt and cried after each of those moments....I'm crying now remembering how those moments felt.


It really sucks to have to put sunscreen on your scalp, so it doesn't burn. It really sucks to check every photo I'm in to see if my bald spots are showing. It really sucks to go to my husband in tears every time I leave the house to have him check how well I covered my bald spots with hair fibers or hair spray paint. It really sucks to feel ugly. It really sucks to feel inferior. It really sucks to assume everyone is looking at me for the wrong reasons.


Recently, I spoke up to my doctor about my hair, among other things. My doctor looked at my scalp, looked at my weight, looked at how long I've been taking anti-depressants, and with a deep sigh told me that I may have PCOS (Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome). At the time, I was like WTF is that and is it fixable? My doctor explained that it's a complicated illness with a lot of varying symptoms and that it would take several months to accurately diagnose. I asked my doctor if my hair would get better and she told me, "it varies from person to person." So, I took to the internet once more. The jury is still out about my PCOS diagnosis; but the verdict on my hair is in: it's not coming back.


At first, I was really really upset. Not just about my hair, but about potentially having another illness (I also have Ulcerative Colitis). I cried and slept all day and ate all of the things. Then, I called an end to my pity party and decided to be grateful that at least I now have a clue as to why I've felt so crappy for so long. It was also a strange relief to know that I don't need to worry about my hair anymore. No more online shopping for supplements, no more being embarrassed about buying hair fibers, or Rogaine-type products because the hair is gone and that's that. I'd also like to mention that many people lose their hair to chemotherapy. My situation is hard, but it could be so much worse. Boo hoo, I may have PCOS, but I'm typing up this blog in a house my husband and I own, on a new laptop, and while drinking Chardonnay!


I've been joking about wearing wigs for a while. I started joking about it when I was at the jail, but I never followed through because what could be more embarrassing than having an inmate snatch your wig in front of 80 other inmates? Uhhhh, not much. So that brings me to now; what's holding me back from wearing wigs?


I've thought about this a lot. In spite of working in the beauty industry, I have a fear of seeming vain. There are so many things in this lifetime that matter more than hair, or Botox, or eyebrows 'on fleek'. I also consider myself a feminist and I don't believe I should be held to other people's beauty standards. Also, MY WIG COULD STILL GET SNATCHED Y'ALL!


All of that being said, I don't give a f*ck. Excuse my language, but seriously, instead of worrying so much about what other people are going to think, I want to focus on what will make me feel good. I want to feel confident and beautiful and I want my appearance to reflect my inner self. My inner self is not a self-conscious, insecure, balding woman. My inner self is brave, opinionated, loving, creative, curious, and courageous....my inner self rocks some amazingly luscious locks! The people that I love, respect, and want in my tribe are cheering me on and trying on my wigs when they come over for taco Tuesday! As for the haters? That's just a sign that I'm slayin'!


So, there it is. Next week my beloved hairstylist is cutting off what's left of my bio hair, I'll put on my first wig, and we'll go celebrate! Not only am I blessed to live in a country where I've had the freedom to get an education, marry the man of my dreams, and start a business; but I'm blessed to be part of a culture where it's okay to wear helper hair! I mean truly, I'm so grateful to live in a time where self-expression is encouraged! Live, and let live. Do you.


This has been an emotional journey and I was nervous making this choice, but I'm confident in my decision. If you see me with brown hair one day and purple the next, yes- it's a wig. If you see my bald lil' head at Target, I just wanted to feel a breeze though my seven hairs on my head! I deserve to be comfortable in my own skin and I'm taking my confidence back!

Here are some photos of my sad little scalp! I'll be doing a supplementary post about my first wig!

The back of my dome. Horseshoe balding.

Also the back of my dome. (I have really great flooring at my skincare studio!)

The right side of my head.

And, the left.

Stay tuned for photos of my first wig! Please reach out if you have thoughts or questions! I plan to share so much more, let me know if you have specific topics you'd like my two cents on!

XoXo,

Regina

PS


Thank you to my husband. Thank you for listening to my fears, comforting me in times of hurt, and encouraging me to find happiness. Also, thank you for that one night when I asked if you would love me if I went completely bald and you kissed me and said, "of course I would love you and your bald little head." I love you and I wouldn't be who am I without you.


My doctor also suggested that I may have Alopecia. I'll keep ya posted about the actual diagnosis!


Shout out to my hairstylist! Girl, you are one of my ride or die peeps! Not only have you comforted me throughout my hair loss, but you've encouraged me to believe in myself and to take risks! You're more than a hairstylist to me, you're one of my best friends!


Thank you to my sister! You always tell me I'm beautiful, even when I don't believe it. No one encourages me to be my weird a*s self quite like you and you inspire me to be strong, love myself first, and hold my head high. You may be "the baby," but your wisdom is beyond your years.

Much love to all of my besties (you know who you are) who've been kind enough to fib and tell me that my balding "wasn't noticeable" and that "no one could tell." Your support and kindness is why I love you so fiercely.

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