I experienced teenage hair loss. My name is Jill Vanderwood I am an author at jillvanderwood.com. I am also a licensed cosmetologist. The technical term for hair loss is alopecia and from what I’ve read, the hair loss I experienced was not regular alopecia areata, which is baldness in spots. Mine would not be called pattern baldness either, because it was all over my head and not just a little bit. The term used for this type of baldness is: Diffuse Alopecia Areata, which is a sudden and unexpected thinning of the hair all over the scalp.
Here is my story of teenage hair loss.
During the eighth grade I became extremely ill.
I had a high fever and couldn’t even walk up and down the steps inside the house without falling, so someone had to help me. This sickness, which was not diagnosed at the time, lasted for two weeks. In the mornings someone would help me down the steps inside the house, and I would take up residence on the living room couch. I only went upstairs to use the bathroom. During the day I would sleep, until my brothers and sisters came home from school.
I noticed that with this illness, everything seemed to be exaggerated.
With food, for instance, if something was sweet, it seemed extra sweet. Mom gave me grapefruit, which I usually liked. During my sickness, it was way too sour for me. All the noises in the room were magnified and I couldn’t stand all the commotion from the family, around me.
After two weeks, I started to get better, however I still didn’t have most of my strength back.
My friend Kathy came over and wanted me to walk to the library. I got up and tried to get dressed. None of my clothes would fit. The only pants I could wear were my gym clothes because they were stretchy and fit me more tightly. Otherwise, all my clothes were too big.
Mom asked if I was sure I could walk that far. I was sure, and of course it tired me out and I had to call my mom to get a ride home. I was completely worn out. This slowed my progress in getting better. I needed to take things really slow until I got my strength back.
One Wednesday night, after I got better, my parents went to church, and I decided to take a bath and wash my hair.
When I did, I noticed that something wasn’t right. I had a huge tangle in my hair. It wouldn’t comb out, no matter what I did.
My mom came home and found me sitting on the living room floor, crying. She got down on the floor with me and asked me what was wrong. I told her about the tangle, and she tried to help me. After a while she said she knew what the problem was.
She told me that my hair was falling out and as she combed it, more hair came out and joined the tangle.
That was so scary! When she finally got the tangle out, it was a big wad of hair, I would say the tangle was the size of two fists.
I could just run my fingers through my hair and come up with a whole mess of detached hair. It was coming out by the handful! My dad asked me what I used on my hair. I said that I washed my hair at Kathy’s house and used Breck Shampoo—but that was the time before and I didn’t see any problems then. He said I could only wash my hair at home. I was not to use Breck Shampoo ever again.
It finally came to an end and no more hair fell out.
That was not before I completely looked like a cancer patient with teenage hair loss, my scalp was showing through what was left of my thin stringy hair.
It looked horrible. I was planning to go to my eighth grade graduation and wanted a hairpiece so I could wear my hair up in a bun. My older sister had a hairpiece, which she would never let me wear. I had a new dress and new shoes; in fact, I was able to get two new dresses with the money I had to spend. But my hair!
Before that happened, I remembered riding with my friend Patsy home from school and her little sister, Jo Ann would play with my long hair and tell me how pretty it was!
Mom made me a bun behind my head for graduation. It was very small, but it did look better because she made sure that my hair covered my head.
I was at Kathy’s house one day and a lady who was visiting said, “I had a neighbor who lost her hair like that.”
I asked, “Did her hair ever come back?”
“No, it never did. She got herself a nice wig. To this day, she wears a wig, but you can never tell. It looks just like she has hair.”
My heart sank. What if my hair never came back?
I would be stuck looking like this! I knew my parents couldn’t afford to get me a decent wig. I would have to wear the most cheaply made, ugly wig that was ever created! It wouldn’t ever look real. Or, there wouldn’t be a wig at all. Mom would have to continue wrapping my hair around my head in a bun to cover the baldness or I would have to wear a hat.
This was the time of my life when I was just starting to notice boys. I’m sure every boy noticed what a hideous loser I was!
A lot of prayers were said on my behalf. The miracle did come one day when I was standing in front of a mirror.
I noticed short, pokey hairs coming up, all over my head! I showed my mom. She said, “Oh My! Your hair is growing back!” It really was! It was exciting, but that didn’t help much, at the moment.
I had this long, stringy hair, with a short crop that seemed to stick straight up, filling in my scalp.
In my first high school yearbook picture, because of teenage hair loss, I split my hair down the middle in the back and even with all my hair in front, it wasn’t enough to cover my ears! I was so disgusted with my yearbook picture that whenever anyone asked me to sign my picture, I signed right across the whole picture.
Freshman year—9th grade, my best friend Kathy found some new friends. At first, I ate lunch with Kathy and her two new friends, who totally ignored me. I asked Kathy if we could eat lunch at our own table because I knew these girls didn’t like me. I could feel it. But one day, I knew that for sure. I ate with the new girls and Kathy and then we went upstairs to the restroom.
I heard one of the girls saying, “Kathy, will you keep Jill in the restroom for a while?
I want to meet up with my boyfriend and I don’t want him to think I’m friends with her.” I came out of the restroom stall and washed my hands. I stormed past Kathy and the other girls and said, “Who’d want to be friends with you, anyway?” I never sat with them for lunch again.
Now I know that Kathy didn’t hear what the girls said.
I was an embarrassment.
It wasn’t until the tenth grade when Mom asked me if she could cut my hair. I refused at first, since my hair was too precious to me. I finally allowed my mom to give me a haircut. It was just below my ears, and it was thick again! All the new hairs had grown to that length, and by cutting it, my hair could all grow out to be thick. I had hair! It was short, but still, it was real, thick hair! My hair grew in and this time it was wavy.
For many years I have wondered why I lost my hair.
I read a story in Chicken Soup for the Soul, where a girl who suffered from teenage hair loss, and had to wear a wig. One day while she was at a skating party, the wig slipped off. In this story, she said the doctor told her that she was allergic to her period.
I was about to begin my period when this hair loss began. I had also been sick for two weeks, so I wasn’t getting the nourishment or vitamins my body needed. Either or both things may have contributed to my hair loss.
One day I was talking to my mother-in-law about when this happened to me. She told me that the same thing happened to her around the time she started her period.
I didn’t go to a doctor when I was sick, but I think I had mono. No one took me to a doctor for my extreme hair loss either. But, I did get my hair back. Thank you, God!Leave a Comment