I have been thinking about how I would write about this experience for years. This morning, I feel like I’m ready to share it. My intention is not to share this for pity or attention for what I’ve been through. We all go through hard times. It is to share with you how our bodies talk to us and give us clues about our mental well being. I do this best when I express with vulnerability. When we aren’t able to say no, our bodies say no for us.
When I was 25, I lost most of my hair over a month or so. I had no idea why, and it was the most terrifying experience of my adult life. I had never heard of people so young losing hair that wasn’t age related.
At the time, I was volunteering over night and during the week at a local suicide crisis phone line, other days spent working at a busy cafe which involved waking up at 4am after coming home from the same job at 10:30pm the night before. On top of this, I had just broken up with a long term partner, and was quickly involved in another relationship which as comforting as that was at the time, was also overwhelming for me. I was also drinking heaps of caffeine to keep up with all of these things.
I was exhausted. I found myself crying and breaking down all the time. I had my hair up for months trying to disguise the vast difference I felt it was. One customer had said to me “hey what happened to all your hair?” I wasn’t willing to say loudly across the bar that “oh, I lost it”, so i just looked down and said “I don’t know”.
I remember once laying in bed, being able to feel the pillow against my scalp, a new sensation. I cried and thought, if I have to live without my hair, I will learn to love myself regardless. I am here for you, I whispered to myself with my hand on my heart.
I sought help from a Naturopath. I told her that I was exhausted and involved in challenging work while processing a huge transition point in my life. I had adrenal fatigue. I got blood work done, started taking some adaptogenic herbs (they help your body deal with stress), added in some dietary recommendations, and devoured a memoir about a woman going through adversity in her life. Things started to get better, my hair started growing back again, until it wasn’t. A few appointments later, she said something that made me angry because it was so full of truth. She said “You’re doing this to yourself”.
How could that be true, I thought. The longer I reflected on that statement, the more I realized I lacked boundaries in every area of life. I was giving myself to others way more than I was giving to myself. I was allowing others to dictate my schedule in a way that wasn’t serving me. I was allowing the partner at the time to impinge on my boundaries by throwing a fit when he couldn’t spend time with me, and I would fold and use my self care time to spend time with him. I realized my nervous system wasn’t ready to work at the crisis lines when I did.
I learned how deeply essential it was to self regulate my nervous system, and tune in, and speak up when I had had enough. I learned how important it is to have people in your life that respect those no’s. I learned that nutrition and exercise alone are not enough for well being. That we must be willing to look deeper and get out of the self sacrificing groove.
My body spoke for me. And yours speaks for you, too. Perhaps not in the same way, and perhaps so. I encourage you to pay attention to that little voice inside that says ‘I’ve had enough’ no matter how seemingly small the interaction or task. I cannot stress how deeply important that is for your most important relationship – the one you have to yourself.
Stay tuned for news as I will be accepting private clients April 2020 in Vancouver, BC
This blog and or website is not a replacement for therapy or therapeutic intervention. Please seek out a mental health professional or counsellor for individualized care.