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Feeling totally overwhelmed and helpless.

(24 Posts)
MotherHubbard Thu 14-Sep-17 06:31:21

My eldest daughter died thirteen years ago from bowel cancer. My remaining daughter, 36, has just been diagnosed with alopecia, which is possibly a permanent type. I know this is not life threatening but she is already quite vulnerable due to the breakup of a relationship(not her doing) a couple of months ago and I think losing her hair will have a devastating effect on her mentally. I feel, as I did when my other daughter had cancer, I can't make it better. I would be grateful for any advice, especially if you have experience re alopecia. Thanks.

BlueBelle Thu 14-Sep-17 06:54:32

I don't have experience of alopecia motherhubbard but I just wanted to say what a difficult time for you and send you my thoughts 💐 Losing a child is unbelievable I couldn't manage but you are obviously a strong lady so you will be there for your daughter and you will both get through it I hope you get lots of good advice x

Imperfect27 Thu 14-Sep-17 07:07:07

So sorry to read your post Motherhubbard and I understand the sense of anxiety you must be carrying. I lost a daughter 11 years ago and I think part of the longer-term fall-out is that we tend to worry more about any other child / children we have. I think the on-going stresses we carry due to significant loss simply makes us prone to heightened anxiety. It is all the more wretched if we feel we cannot help our children to make a situation better for them. But your DD clearly has your loving care and will receive good medical advice. There are also localised support groups for people coming to terms with alopecia - google and they come up.

My DD1 is of an age with your DD and has a best friend who has suffered complete hair loss from alopecia. This happened when she was in her mid twenties. She is beautiful inside and out -wears a wig in public (not that you would know) and has learned to be comfortable in her own skin. She has a full and happy life. Whilst your DD will need to come to terms with this difficulty, it is not insurmountable and there is good support out there.

I know it is easier said than done, but try not to 'catastrophise' over this new set of hurdles for your daughter. Our children often have more resilience than we expect and help is at hand.

absent Thu 14-Sep-17 07:10:40

My hair has never been my crowning glory but when I was terribly ill at the age of 21 and had loads of surgery, painful treatment and masses of medication, the only thing that made me cry was my hair falling out. I didn't lose all of it, but already fine, it went much, much thinner. So not quite bald. Fortunately for me, it grew back over time as I recovered from my illness.

Earlier this year (46 years later), I went through a very worrying and stressful patch in my life and my hair began to fall out in handfuls every time I combed it. I have, to some extent, sorted out the problems and my hair is not falling out in the same way.

It is a deeply distressing and upsetting experience, made even more so because it seems trivial compared with serious illness. The problem may not be long term, but if it is, I would suggest getting in touch with a first-class wig-maker – and then have quite a lot fun doing it.

Our hair is one of things that, rightly or not, helps us define our femininity and losing it is hugely distressing. (Of course, that doesn't mean it isn't hard for chaps, in spite of the frequency of male pattern baldness.) Loving support is what she needs.

mumofmadboys Thu 14-Sep-17 08:13:56

If her relationship has recently split up her alopecia may be stress related and improve with time. Only time will tell if it is permanent.

blueberry1 Thu 14-Sep-17 10:44:16

I had alopecia after a stressful time. Fortunately the bald patch was at the back of my head and my long hair covered the worst of it. My GP prescribed some cream which I used and the bald patch slowly grew back. This was some years ago and I have had no recurrence of it since,so I assume it was caused by stress.Has your daughter been prescribed a cream or referred to a trichologist? Try not to worry-it may well be temporary.

Kerenhappuch Thu 14-Sep-17 10:47:16

What a difficult time for you - it must have brought a lot of the feelings of helplessness back.

I've had some quite serious illnesses over the last few years with very high temperatures, which has caused something called telogen effluvium each time, which results in a dramatic loss of hair, then quite a long wait for regrowth. I felt absolutely devastated by this, but finding a good hairdresser helped me a lot, as she could suggest styles that didn't show up the patches of hair loss and could, if all else failed, have helped me find a wig. I hope your daughter's condition will also right itself if it's stress induced. I'm sure it will help being able to confide in you about it.

KatyK Thu 14-Sep-17 10:54:29

So sorry to hear of all your troubles MotherHubbard. I have alopecia (total loss of hair). I lost mine about 8 years ago and it's obviously not going to grow back. I would like to reassure you that it's not devastating, but I'm afraid it was devastating for me. However, I assume your daughter has seen her GP for blood tests etc. If there is no medical solution, as in my case, you have to try to find your own solution. I have a hair system which is fantastic. It's just like normal hair, you don't take it off, you can wash it as normal hair, straighten it, curl it. The only downside is that you go back to the salon every 6 weks or so and they take it off, condition your scalp etc. Unfortunately it isn't cheap and I have to fund it myself. Have a look at the Female Hair Loss blog on Gransnet. Good luck.

grannygranby Thu 14-Sep-17 10:56:16

So sorry to hear about loss of daughter to cancer. My daughters hair fell out about 18 months ago. At the back, from crown down. I was very worried. It has grown back!! first of all curly which was strange and now curls have grown down and it all looks lovely. We reckoned it was the after shock of taking on a massive project which threatened to overwhelm give hope and help and encouragement it might be the same with your daughter. Good luck and big hug

paddyann Thu 14-Sep-17 11:04:24

I am so sorry for your worries,when its our children we'd happily take it on ourselves rather than see them suffer.I shed tears on a daily basis because my daughter is suffering constant pain and other horrible symptoms of Fibromyalgia.I spend hours and lots of cash finding things that "might" help,sometimes they do for a few weeks and then we're back to square one .I think although alopecia is a horrible thing ,as others have said there are things she can do .I know I have always admired Gail Porter for her attitude to it,but if your girl cant face the world without hair she can have eyebrows tattooed on and wear a wig.Not the same I know as her own hair but maybe once her stress levels settle her hair might grow back .Try not to worry too much about it and help her find a way to conquer her stress or check out online hair clinics for advice

Serkeen Thu 14-Sep-17 11:10:54

Motherhubbard So sorry you are feeling overwhelmed x

You have come to the right place Gransnetters have been so kind and supportive to me recently. You have support here and hopefully some good advice smile

I have found a website that specialises in alopecia, good news is that it may not be permanent and maybe just caused through stress in which case it will settle down when the stress becomes better, but take a look at this website flowers

Serkeen Thu 14-Sep-17 11:13:53

In the meantime these wig makers are NHS approved maybe this could help her build her confidence up

radicalnan Thu 14-Sep-17 11:59:41

How sad for you for this to be happening. I worked for NHS and we had lists of hairdressers who could help people with stlyes and wigs and who did sort of private appts for people, worth asking if there is anything similar in your area. Also there was some fianncial help for wigs, I can't be sure that still exists though.

dianetheartist Thu 14-Sep-17 12:18:57

My friends hair started to come out, and she had lost about 75% of it,, I recomended taking Biotin 10,000mg from Amazon as I had great results when I was losing my hair through high doses of steroids.. my hair has come back thick strong and curly..Hubby is taking them and his hair is starting to come back also.... worth a try...

lovebeigecardigans1955 Thu 14-Sep-17 12:58:20

I'm so sorry to hear this and as it sounds as though it may be stress related it may grow back in time. The only personal experience I have of hair loss was when I was on chemo and it came back.
There are really fabulous wigs these days - you literally cannot tell the difference and they needn't be expensive. I got excellent service from Paula Young in Fenning Street, London. It's mail order - you can get a catalogue and measure round your head for a great fit. I wish you both all the best.

grannyactivist Thu 14-Sep-17 13:42:28

Recently my seven year old grandson developed stress-related alopecia, but I'm pleased to say the hair is now growing back. Some things just need time, so I hope this is the case with your daughter. As for feeling overwhelmed and helpless - be as kind to yourself as you would be to someone else in your situation. flowers
I'm just coming through one of the most difficult family situations I've experienced and I've learned that our children know we can't fix everything, but just want to know they're loved in the middle of the difficulties and pain.

Babette Thu 14-Sep-17 13:46:55

Read up on Alopecia. Autoimmune disease.

ggmarion Thu 14-Sep-17 14:20:12

A few years back I lost most of my hair. I saw one GP who said it was 'female pattern baldness' and it would be down to skillful hairdressing and wearing hats. My hairdresser was aghast as at that time I had lost 75% of the hair on my head plus eyebrows. I saw a different GP who sent me to a dermatologist (trichologists not available on NHS) . He prescribed steroid lotion to rub into my scalp. My hair did grow back in thicker than before. In the meanwhile I bought a really good wig and had it cut so it didn't look too thick and false. The NHS wig given was horrendous. I never did find out what caused it. Take heart, I know it is hard to stand by feeling helpless but your DD knows she is loved.

MotherHubbard Thu 14-Sep-17 14:54:12

I would like to thank everyone for their replies and all the empathy, information, and great links. Had had a sleepless night worrying when I posted this morning and was feeling very down which is unlike me. However, after all your great input and info to follow up,I feel much more positive about being able to help my daughter through this.

Tessa101 Thu 14-Sep-17 15:54:27

I have alopecia areta which is the one where you have patches forming. Mine was auto immune related. I found a brilliant dermatologist in Harley st and I had steroid injections around the patch every 6 weeks. The hair would grow back in that patch but another would appear somewhere else.It was £150 per visit but to me it was worth it,until the dermatologist wrote to my doctor and I eventually had the exact same treatment on the NHS.I suffered with this for 15 years and it then just suddenly stopped happening.I wish you both well try not to feel helpless just be strong together.

Imperfect27 Thu 14-Sep-17 15:57:05

Glad you are feeling better Motherhubbard - GN at its best xx flowers

Glenfinnan Thu 14-Sep-17 22:25:52

DH also started to lose his hair in patches at the back of his head. Not as traumatic as for your daughter. I bought a product called WOW from my hairdresser which I apply for him with a small brush. Looks realistic and gives confidence. You sound a lovely caring mum Mother Hubbard! But do look after yourself too!

Iam64 Fri 15-Sep-17 07:03:26

Someone close to me had alopecia areta for the first time at seven. A dermatologist seen privately treated it on the NHS with steroid injections into the patches, cream between sessions. It grew back completely. It's recurred a number of times, a wig helps. We now know of previous generations in the family who had total hair lsd but it grew back. It's an auto immune issue in this case. Hope things get easier x

Anya Fri 15-Sep-17 07:31:23

Sorry to read this MotherHubbard

It's hard to see your children suffer and you've been through the worse that any parents can experience already (((hugs))).

Try to be strong for your remaining daughter. Hold on to the possibility this may not be permanent while she takes time to come to terms with the fact that it might be. Help her through this.

Lots of advice above.