View Full Version : Update - more than a year later

25 going on 65
12-27-2011, 02:04 PM
I haven't posted here for quite some time. I first joined the forum in September of last year I think, and at that point I was suffering horrible depression due to hair loss. (If you click my name you can go back to see my original post - "melancholy" doesn't even begin to define it.)
I wanted to come back and update my story because, after drenching the community with my tears in 2010, I thought I should balance it out with a bit of positivity. The most important point I want to make is that if you hang in there, things do get better, no matter how hopeless they seem now.
When I first posted to this forum, my life consisted of long stretches of depression punctuated by bouts of suicidal thoughts. I felt as though MPB had taken everything from me, and I spent most of my time either feeling sorry for myself or distracting my thoughts to escape reality. But I had just enough will left to start buying finasteride and continue using Nizoral shampoo.
About fifteen months later... I am OK. What's so great about "OK"? Well, to me, it means a lot. It means I can wake up in the morning and look forward to things, that I can actually participate in life instead of watching it pass me by while I hide in my cocoon. It means I can be with people and feel comfortable in my own skin (and hair) instead of obsessing every moment about what my scalp looks like. I have hope now that things can be good, that they can get better instead of always worse.
So let's get down to hair. When I first posted here my hairline was a NW 1.5-ish and there was some thinning in my crown (that typical "bald spot" was just beginning to open up), but mainly there was just this very noticeable diffuse thinning all over the top of my head. With my hair grown out a bit and enough styling I could get reasonable coverage, but I HATED the diffuse loss because if my hair was laying the wrong way (e.g. from a strong wind or being brushed against by someone, or whatever) it would show scalp through my dark hair. And even when there was decent coverage, there were many areas where my hair looked crappy because of miniaturization. I had a lot of patches that were getting "wispy" and under bright lights they looked ridiculous to me. Compared to my teenage hair it was just bad, and it wasn't only my perception because other people acknowledged it when I confided in them.
I had been using Nizoral shampoo for some time and then added finasteride (1.25 mg per day) and Dercos shampoo which contains aminexil (supposedly a treatment for perifollicular fibrosis - let me say right off the bat that I have no idea whether this helps MPB in the slightest, as there is no solid peer-reviewed evidence for it, but I have continued using it because I like the hair texture it produces). I've continued this regimen ever since. At the start I felt there may have been slight temple recession, and maybe some shedding around the crown, but it's hard to say. There was no "huge shed" like I've heard other people describe.
As many of you know, treating hair loss with medicine takes patience. But within six months it became clear I was no longer losing hair. My temples, my crown, the diffuse thinning... all of it stopped progressing. Within the next few months I noticed some areas behind the hair line seemed to be thickening up - literally growing new hairs - and my hair quality was improving all over. That miniaturized, wispy look went into reverse. Since then, the results have continued to mount, and altogether they have made a very real difference.
Today, my hairline is about where it was when I first started finasteride, while the crown area is noticeably improved. (It's not a perfect whorl like it was before MPB but when my hair is styled there is no visible "balding spot"; I can have people behind me without feeling uncomfortable since to them there isn't an appearance of balding.) But the bigger success story is the reversal of my diffuse thinning. The quality of my hair has improved all over the top of my scalp - it looks healthier, thicker, and just more "lustrous" for the lack of a better word. I guess on a microscopic level, the individual follicles are growing in thicker (i.e. larger in circumference). There is definitely new growth as well, but the regrown hairs tend not to be of the same quality as the rest. They do provide more coverage though, which is always a good thing!
Bottom line: I now have the option of not looking like a balding dude. I have the option of cleaning up, looking at my reflection and feeling good about myself. Of course I can still inspect my scalp in the mirror and see where alopecia has done its damage, and first thing in the morning (when my hair is a bit greasy and suffering "bed head") my frontal recession sometimes is detectable along with one or two areas of scalp. BUT after a wash and a little styling, I get full coverage that legitimately looks good instead of wispy and unhealthy. I actually get compliments on my hair; people tell me it looks "thick," and one guy even said "amazing." These are things people said to me before I started losing hair, and I didn't think I would ever hear them again.
An MPB veteran with a trained eye might look and say, "that guy is in the beginning stages of hair loss," because my style covers up my hairline and because the hair quality isn't totally uniform across my scalp when you get close enough to inspect it. But I'm fine with that. Girls simply do not notice, as they normally have no knowledge of MPB (thank god) and perceive it as a normal head of hair. At worst they might see it as a mature "widow's peak" if they were to pull it back from my forehead. Or if they saw it when it's not clean and styled, they might notice some scalp in areas... but by that point it's because we're sharing a bed the next morning, so I'm not going to complain at that juncture!
I have even been considering coming "out of the closet" as a finasteride/Nizoral user (I don't think anybody knows besides some family members and one close friend - I wore hats all the time from the start of my hair loss until within the last few months when I finally felt comfortable going hatless again).

Now a dose of reality to temper all this optimism: there are still times when I feel bad about my hair. I'm not comfortable 100% of the time, and there are times when these feelings stop me from doing things I'd otherwise love to do. I still dream about how great it would be to have a truly, fully restored head of hair and be able to go swimming or withstand a wind tunnel without having to worry about whether my scalp is starting to show. I DO still feel depressed about it sometimes.
The difference is that, even though I will never restore all my NW1 hair with current treatments, I'm OK now. My hair is stable, but more importantly, so is my mind. My life has become the normal series of ups and downs that other people go through, instead of the constant heartbreaking misery that I lived through every day. The evening-out of my emotions has meant the world to me - I have been off of antidepressants for many months. I also used to self-medicate with cannabis on a daily basis, which I no longer feel the need to do.
There's no doubt my success with meds has contributed to this, but a lot of it has been a mental battle. The same mental battle I still fight when the feelings of depression return. The key is to hang in there, and in that process alone, you will gain new perspective and new tools to handle these challenges (not only hair loss but the thousands of other hurdles we're all confronted with over time).
I realize a lot of guys are suffering worse hair loss than me. I can't claim to fully understand what that's like, but I totally empathize with the emotions. I know what it's like to feel crushed every time you look in the mirror, like a stranger is staring back at you, and to feel like you're condemned to watch yourself disappear in the coming years. But there are also treatment regimens stronger than mine (they can include dutasteride, minoxodil, surgical transplants that are better than ever, and great-looking hair systems once you feel comfortable enough to try them), and a new generation of methods to come. We could see commercially available hair multiplication within 5-7 years (some say as soon as 2013 or 2014). The important thing is to keep pushing.
Again: just hang in there. Even if all you can manage to do right now is keep yourself alive, that's alright... just do it. Things can absolutely be better than they are right now. I remember someone on this forum writing something about moving forward in life, which seemed like a pipe dream then but makes great sense to me now (sorry I can't remember the poster or the exact quote): "it doesn't mean you'll love your hair the way it is, it doesn't mean you won't think about it every day. It just means you'll be OK."
I'm still pissed about balding and I still think about it every day. But I'm OK now. So can you be. Don't give up like I almost did.

12-28-2011, 05:00 PM
Thanks man, seriously, thank you. Today, before reading your post, I was feeling like complete shit about myself over this bull shit. But you put some things in perspective that brightened me up a bit. Good luck an hope u see continued success.

25 going on 65
12-29-2011, 12:26 AM
Thank you, and you're very welcome. It genuinely makes me happy if I can make someone feel even an ounce better about this issue, because I've been in the same boat (still am, and always will be until better treatments come out) and I know how bad it can mess with your thoughts.
I hope you don't mind that I checked out a few of your other posts. My heart goes out to you man, I have had some of the exact same thoughts/feelings that you speak of. Just keep in mind that self-improvement, be it mental or physical or both, takes serious time and patience. But it will happen if you just hang in there. I can't tell you how many days I've spent locked up in my room just brooding. Even within the last couple months. But surviving the bad times allows you to live some great times as well, times that make you amazingly glad and thankful you didn't quit trying.
One thing to remember is that we're all our own worst critics... what we think other people perceive is often 1,000 miles from what they actually see. When someone is looking at you from across the room you might think "damnit, she's thinking about my hair" when in reality she's checking out your clothes or nice smile or even just spacing out and not paying attention to you - she sees dozens of balding dudes every day and doesn't necessarily even think twice about it. (Consider how many pretty girls you've seen with guys who have less hair than any of us.)
I think maybe the biggest thing that affects whether others see us positively or negatively is how happy we are to be ourselves, to be alive. Even "unattractive" guys can draw people in like magnets and be the life of the party if they generally seem happy and like they've got something going for themselves. I have been at so many social functions where average or below-average dudes (in terms of looks) are holding whole groups in the palms of their hands just by being outgoing and happy, while relatively handsome guys are standing around like wallflowers being awkward and not getting attention.
I'm still learning to be like those outgoing guys, it's a challenging process, but I see myself making progress and it's a gratifying feeling.

By the way, the main reason I mentioned reading some of your posts - that guy who gave you crap about your hair was being an insecure prick. He sees you with his ex-girl and he's jealous, so he copes with his self-consciousness by trying to deflate your ego. Just remember that all forms of malicious attacks/teasing come from personal insecurity. If he felt great about himself he would have been friendly towards you. I guarantee inside he's thinking, "what's this guy got that I don't? Why is she over me and hanging out with him instead?"
If it happens again don't hesitate to laugh it off and throw it back in his face, with something like, "you want to trade hair? Maybe then she'll start going to parties with you instead of me."
I'm getting to the point where I can offer light-hearted remarks about my own hair and it helps me feel better about it. A fellow MPB sufferer once commented on my style (i.e. somewhat covering the hairline) and I said, "yeah the temples have gone back a bit, I'm just trying to work towards Jude Law territory so I can get as many women as he does." You'll be surprised how this makes people laugh, puts them at ease, and also helps you come off as confident and self-assured.

On a final note, if you haven't looked into finasteride yet, I definitely recommend it! Just stabilizing your hair loss can do wonders for your emotions, since you won't be having to constantly re-adjust to a changing image every 6-12 months anymore. In fact most guys see improvement. At least it gets us by until hair multiplication is on the market. :)
Good luck with everything, take care.