Sister Solidarity

As a woman, I always strive to be strong and independent, but to tell you the truth, I can’t imagine suffering from Alopecia without the bond and support of my sisters. There’s nothing stronger than that bond between us, and that’s a fact. Even if we bump heads, and maybe go several months without speaking with one another, we always have each other’s back, no matter what. 

In the early stages of Alopecia, the balding quickly became worse. One afternoon, I was brushing my hair before washing it, and with each stroke, my hair slipped away from my head. I was brushing and brushing and brushing, and it was all falling on the bathroom floor.  I was devastated, lying on the floor crying while the shower was still running. My family was home, but no one fully knew the pain I was enduring at that moment. I eventually gathered myself together enough to wash what hair was left. Once finished, I began to add my leave-in conditioner and comb it through my hair, but my hair was completely falling out before my eyes. So much hair was dropping to the floor. I was just collecting handfuls of hair in my hands and putting it in the toilet.

Seeing so much of my hair being flushed away into the toilet broke me.

During my pregnancy, I decided to just let my hair be…no more letting it grow to chop it off to only put back in braids or weaves, I was just letting my hair be because it had never looked healthier than it did during that time. And now, just six months later, I am watching my precious locks go down the toilet! 

I couldn’t handle it anymore. 

As I write this down to share with you all, several months later, I am still tearing up thinking about the agonizing defeat that I had felt. I felt so confused; I felt as if someone put some type of voodoo or hex spell or some sort of evil curse on me to destroy me. I couldn’t understand why this was happening; I had such a happy, and healthy pregnancy, one of the most joyous and loving times in my life, and there I was, suffering and crying in the bathroom. 

After a moment of devastation, I took my shower and knew I needed to talk to someone… anyone that would care about what I was feeling. I immediately called my older sister, Shaneen. I was crying and freaking out on the phone with her. She put me on hold, then called my other older sister, Lautice, the “Mama” out of all my siblings. 

I sat outside on my balcony steps for a breath of fresh air while I was on the phone with them. They were figuratively talking me off the ledge. We talked for such a long time. They offered me many words of encouragement and support; I truly love them for that.

My sisters suggested that I should just cut my hair at this point, since the longer the hair is, the more it’ll shed. Lautice and Shaneen even offered to cut their hair to show their support. 

This is what I mean when I say the bond between my sisters is everything. They didn’t have to stand by me and volunteer to cut their hair. What I was going through, made me really appreciate the hair my sisters were blessed with. I couldn’t allow them to cut their own hair just to show their support, but the fact that they even offered to do that made me really appreciate and love them for being supportive sisters. 

By now you must be saying, “Okay, it’s just hair,” but for many of us, hair is what defines us. We can show so much of our personality by styling our hair the way we like. Not only that, we are judged by our hair on so many different levels (but that’s a whole different discussion for another blog, lol).  

My hair was truly a part of me, and it was all slipping away. I really, and honestly couldn’t go through that on my own. I am so thankful that I’ve been blessed with such wonderful sisters who supported me in my time of need. 

Even after that day in the bathroom, they still support me in any way they can; by sending helpful hair growth guides, hugs, and kisses, or by simply texting me to ask how I’m doing, and I am so appreciative for all of it. 

A huge thank you to my sisters – I love you!

truggle with alopecia began after the birth of my daughter. Six months of breastfeeding had wreaked havoc on my body; what started as light shedding quickly turned into full-blown balding. At first, I chalked up the hair loss to post-partum hormones, but such a large volume of hair fell out with each brushstroke that I soon realized that I wasn’t dealing with typical post-baby shedding. Why was this happening to me?  Covering up the bald spots became my prime objective but struggling to cover where your tresses have fallen out in clumps, truly sabotages your self-esteem. 

We, women, are surely cursed in this current society. We’re supposed to care about our appearance, but also not be defined by it. But when it comes to our hair, there is for sure a lot of significance attached to it. Being forced to hide under wigs took a toll on my self-confidence but I wasn’t going to stay in that brokenness. I wanted to do research on Alopecia to learn if and how to cure it. I know I was never forced to wear wigs, but hair is what makes most women feel like a woman, and I wanted to feel feminine again.  

While I was researching to grasp the reality that is Alopecia, I learned that there weren’t any existing cures, but that didn’t stop my healthy obsession with research that continues to this very day. Doctors recommended corticosteroid injections and other steroids that came in the form of creams, gels, and ointments for my scalp. I’ve tried them all, but I wasn’t too keen on directly injecting such potent steroids into my scalp, especially when I was fully aware of the side effects it may cause.

So, it was back to the wigs. Anyone who has worn a wig knows they aren’t something that you can just put on and go. You must fit them, trim them, wash them, and if you’re making a custom wig, you have to pick the right density, the right cap, the right color, and the list goes on, and on and on just so it can look somewhat natural. This was a frustrating and excruciating process and I didn’t want to be a part of it. These wigs weren’t who I was. Who I am. I didn’t want to suffer silently under itchy, stiff wigs forever. I would beg God to please, please just let my hair grow in long enough to rock an old Halle Berry Short hairstyle. I didn’t care if it wasn’t super long again, I just wanted to style my hair when I wanted, and not buy multiple wigs for different styles. I started to lose myself; I didn’t feel like the confident, lively Nikki I once was. I was just a shell of her. 

Let me clarify that I do indeed love wigs, but I did not love feeling like they were my only option. I’ve always liked weaves, extensions and wigs, but being “forced” to wear them to feel feminie and confident was a hard pill for me to swallow.  I also had to learn to find and invest in quality wigs. They make a huge difference on the comfort and confidence level. 

But as we all know, time waits for no one. I didn’t have time to be depressed or give up, my mom taught me better than that. I was managing a multi-million-dollar property for work, managing a household, learning how to be a mother, while learning about my condition. Even though there was no time in my schedule for research, I stopped praying that my hair would grow long and stopped questioning why it was happening to me. I stopped asking “why” and started asking “how”. How can I have a deeper understanding of Alopecia?

The moment that I realized that I was still Nikki was the moment that I knew I had to be more proactive in managing my condition, whether that included routine dermatologist appointments and giving monthly scalp injections a try, various products on the market, or my own homemade concoctions. I was not willing to give up on myself.

If it weren’t for the everlasting support of my family, I don’t know where I’d be now. My five sisters, my brother, my mom, mother-in-law, and my fiancé—they were all my supporters in one form or another. Whether it was hugs and kisses, sending me links they came across, products they heard about, info they heard from others, or just checking in on me, all of it meant so much and was a part of my journey.  My biggest supporter of all, is my beautiful daughter, Brooke Amor. She would always tell me, “Mommy, it’s ok, you look beautiful with short hair and your wigs.” Even though she was only four at the time, her understanding and encouraging words touched my heart and kept me fighting. When I thought the beautiful, bold, and lively Nikki was gone, they all showed me that she was still there.

They showed me that she was still me.

They wiped away my tears when it was just too hard to keep fighting on.

They sympathized with my frustrations and helped me find solutions to them. 

I couldn’t imagine what it would feel like if I didn’t have such a supporting family. Isolated? Lonely? Without them, I doubt I would be where I am today. 

To the women who are silently suffering from hair loss, if there’s one thing you take from this post, it should be this: NEVER GIVE UP! You’re still you. Beautiful, charming, worthwhile you. Society may tell us that our hair is an essential component of our femininity, but when you are living with an alopecia diagnosis, it’s hard to not view baldness as the loss of your feminine beauty, even when you know that it’s not. Realizing that you’re still you – that you’re still that beautiful, vivacious woman and that your hair does not define your essence or your beauty may be the hardest step to take in your journey to recovery, but it’s absolutely essential! And even though I am empowered with knowledge, doesn’t mean that my struggle against Alopecia has stopped. Since there’s no cure for it, once you open the “Alopecia Box”, it’s something you’ll have to live with; it’s now a part of you. Daily triggers can easily set it off, such as stress, anxiety, other autoimmune diseases, or just stress to your hair. There will be recurring struggles, frustration, and emotional days, but always remember that the woman that you were, even the woman you always want to be – she’s still in there. And it’s important you know that, because that realization just may be the first step in your journey to regrowth and recovery. 

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