Monday, January 6, 2014

After The Floods, Losing My Hair, But Gaining My Resilience

After Boulder's 1,000 year rain/100 year flood in September, I fell head first into a deep dark place. I'm not even sure when I started to recognize myself, the beauty in sunshine or daylight again, but I am most certain it wasn't until late October. While people around the world were seeing images of Colorado's devastation, I had grown numb to seeing my community being washed away. I first recognized how being bombarded with images is incredibly damaging on one's psyche during the heart wrenching Fourmile Canyon Fire in 2010. News outlets and social media feed upon dramatic photos during a natural disaster and when they are of places you know inside and out, it's like being punched over and over again with out being able to run away from your assailant.

In September, I physically couldn't escape because my neighborhood was affected by the floods. My husband was out of town, I had to remain strong. I recognized when you endure times of crisis without your partner that has held you up more times than you can count, it takes it's toll. I became acutely aware of the conditions surrounding me for a week straight, while also monitoring the town where my daughter was on an Outdoor Education trip 3 hours away from Boulder. Sometimes that meant listening to police scanners and weather alerts throughout the night. I woke many times half asleep with my clothes on, iPad scanner app still humming at 4am. I did what I had to do, I pushed on through, and we got to the other side of this natural disaster that fell into our laps on an unsuspecting Monday afternoon. 

Which leads me to a personal crisis I faced in September and October. One day I noticed I had lost a patch of hair. Maybe it was dime sized, but it was right in the front where my scalp meets my forehead. Let me tell you, when you notice you are losing your hair, it does not help that you become anxious about losing your hair. Guess what also can make your hair fall out? High levels of anxiety. 

I didn't tell anyone, not one person, not my mother, not my husband for weeks and weeks. I could not muster the courage to say, I am losing my hair. Every time I went to the bathroom or showered or walked by a mirror, I would pull my hair back to see the spot was growing. I started obsessing about it and desperately wanted to see one sign, one little bitty hair that had broken against the norm and was growing back in. But there was no sign of growth. I developed a method to blow dry my hair to hide the bald spot and felt like EVERYONE COULD SEE MY SECRET. 

I finally made a Doctor's appointment with a new Doctor that I had never met before, due to a change in my insurance. I was so scared the receptionist that booked my appointment was going to ask me why I needed to be seen. I couldn't come to grips with the pain and stress of holding in my secret. The morning of my Doctor's appointment Josh knew something was up and all I could do was walk out the door while holding back tears. I hadn't even told him yet that I was going to the Dr, no less why. I don't know what came over me, why I could not find the words to talk about what I was going through. I'm not sure if it was depression, stress, anxiety or a combination of all three. But none the less, I had met a wonderful new Doctor. She prescribed the world's most expensive bottle of shampoo that I feel incredibly fortunate my insurance covered (or I will still have a bald spot). The special shampoo had very specific instructions including rinsing it out while avoiding it coming in contact with any other part of my body, essentially hello toxic shit. I needed help from Josh to rinse my hair the first few times I used it. 

I cried like a baby on the bathroom floor the first time he saw my bald spot, I had to push him out of the bathroom and lock the door. I felt so incredibly vulnerable during this process. I felt ridiculously vain. Once again, I pushed on through, and here I stand on the other side basking in my resilience. Today I have wisps of hair growing back in that spot and I have never been so excited by the sight of grey hair in my life.