My Before and After
Many of you were aware that I (Sarah) was having a hair process done in late April of this year to help with my Trichotillomania. *To read the first post please click here. I was driving over 7 hours to Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, where I would meet the fabulous Charlene Blacer, Owner and Creator of The Secret Mane, to have this life changing hair process done over a span of 2 days. (My story was even featured on the FRONT page of the local Paper! Read the story here!)
I arrived in Stroudsburg the night before the process was going to take place. I had driven all day with my friend and CBSN Partner Suzette, and was exhausted but excited that tomorrow I would wake up and my life would change dramatically. Before I made the journey down to Pennsylvania, I had done my research regarding what was so special about this hair process. First off, the process itself wasn’t a surgery, it wasn’t going to be painful, and it was something that I could take back to Canada and do myself. The life changing part was the actual “Hair Piece” that Charlene had developed specifically for those who have Trichotillomania. It wasn’t a wig, it wasn’t extensions… but sort of a combination of the two.
Charlene custom cut the piece to fit where I needed it to cover. The hair came originally as 18 inches long, but I decided to cut it to my own length I would normally wear. Now what is so special about this piece you may ask? It is a semi-permanent solution to the hair pulling and baldness created by pulling. It is more of a “cosmetic process”. The actual piece itself is made from human hair, allowing it to be straightened, curled etc. The reason I ultimately chose to do this process was because although a wig would allow me to feel confident and cover my spots, this hair piece actually PREVENTS me from pulling the typical spots I would on a daily basis, sort of acting as a barrier. A wig can be removed at night, making it tempting to pull. This piece if on permanently for 3-4 weeks making it difficult to pull where I normally would. Most people have asked me, “Well can’t you just pull from somewhere else?”. The answer is simple, “YES”. But I feel that this hair piece gives me a reason not to pull. I owe it to every single person who donated money to help me get this process done, not to pull. With them constantly on my mind, I have gained strength and will power to resist the temptation to pull elsewhere. The other important reason why I picked this hair process, is that it allows the hair to grow underneath while it is on for the 3-4 weeks. For me it was the following three reasons for ultimately deciding to have this process done. 1) Preventing pulling 2) Allowing me to have my confidence back 3) Allowing my hair to grow back.
The first day I spent learning about how to take care of the piece, and apply it. This took a full 8 hours to learn and practice. At times I was afraid I might not be able to do it, but with reassurance from Charlene, it became so easy. The second day was a brief refresher of what I had learned the previous day. But the most exciting part was actually having my piece applied by Charlene, and being able to walk outside without a hat on in public for the first time in over a year. I cannot explain in words all the benefits of having this process done, but you can see it clearly from my “after” pictures which seemed all to good to be true for the first few I took. Now back home and far from Stroudsburg, I have removed the piece several times by myself and have had nothing but positive responses from those who see it. Many people don’t even know it’s a hair piece, and I can confidently leave my house without worrying if someone will notice anything out of place. I was able to even swim with the hair piece when I went to Cuba in early June! I cannot explain how incredible it is to feel this way again after not feeling good about myself for over a year.
I was lucky enough to be able to receive such generous donations and support from friends and family, and even people I have never met before. For some this process may seem too far fetched because of the price, distance, and overall support. This is why as part of CBSN’s goals, I would like to be able to fund a few people from Canada to go and have this process done. Many people are not as lucky to have a great support system like I have, making it hard to ask for help. Charlene has offered to come to Canada and train salons and hair stylists to learn how to do this process so Canadians with trich will be able to have the process done closer to home. But we need those salons to come forward first!
Here are some of my before and after pictures (CLICK TO MAKE THEM LARGER) to help show the difference a hair piece can make… this is the first time anyone other than my close family will see my trichotillomania damage. I was embarrassed initially, but I feel so many people need to see the physical damage to fully understand what it is we are talking about.
Thank you for letting me share my story with you. I hope you leave understanding a little bit more about trich.
To learn more about this process please visit Charlene’s website www.thesecretmane.com or follow her on Twitter @TheSecretMane – tell her Sarah sent you!