Saturday, October 5, 2013

The power of hair

On the weekend I wrote about my three favourite ways to distract myself from my depression. There's actually a fourth way I like to shake things up when life feels really shit. This method of depression distraction is so radical at times that I felt it deserved its own post.

As a method of depression distraction, getting a new hairstyle can be a little high risk. Fuck it up and it could make you feel worse. Get it right and, I personally believe, it could be just the ticket to lifting the spirit. Even just a little bit.

Mood reviving isn't the only good reason to get a change in hairstyle. I, for one, have used the ol' cut 'n' colour for a number of different reasons. Here they are:

Making a statement against authority

There have been a number of times when I've made major changes to my barnet in order to make a rebellious statement to the world. But mostly it has been to piss off my parents or to give a big "fuck you" to the private girls' school, and their strict uniform rules, that I attended.

The photos below look pretty tame, but what you can't see under the top layer of hair in many of the pictures is a shaved undercut. These days kids get away with all sorts of  hairdos at school but things were different back in the 80s and 90s. We had to wear our hair tied back with a regulation 2.5cm navy blue ribbon if the length of our hair was below the collar of our uniform.

I wrote a post about my past embarrassing hairstyles back in May. For those of you who were lucky enough to miss the shocking photo evidence here it is! I'd hate to deprive you of a laugh at my expense!

The school years: Never been one to shy away from a pair of clippers, scissors or a bottle of hair dye!

The I can't be bothered with my hair phase

I also go through phases where I just cannot be bothered with my hair and I let it grow really long, don't bother getting it coloured (my natural colour is mousy blonde-brown) and just pull it back in a messy bun or a braid. It's that pulling back in hair elastics that I thought was contributing to my headaches (more on that later). I tried getting it chemically straightened thinking it would make for an easy to manage style but the straightening effect didn't last long at all.

My long natural coloured hair 

The everybody else is doing it so I am too phase

Pink, purple, orange, blue, green, yellow - any colour you can think of really. Permanent colour, semi permanent, hair chalk! Crazy hair colours have been all the rage for quite a while now. Earlier this year I decided I wanted to go pink!

Clockwise from top left: The photo I showed the hairdresser to illustrate how I wanted my hair done;
how my hair actually turned out; big smiles as the dye goes on; worried look as reality hits; posing for the hairdresser;
Bubblegum Princess from Adventure Time; a forced smile at home as I realise I look a bit like a cartoon character.

Argh! I just lost a whole stack of work I'd done on this post when Blogger showed an error message and I stupidly closed the browser without doing a copy/paste of what I'd already written into Word. The paragraph lost was basically about how upset I was at spending 5.5 hours and nearly $400 at a hair salon recommended by the biggest hair blogger in Australia only to walk out of the place with a completely different 'do than the one in the picture that I showed the stylist.

The pink did fade. I washed my hair nine times in three days desperately scrubbing out the dye that was going everywhere: on my pillowcase, clothes, towels. And when it actually got to a colour that I liked that only lasted a couple of weeks, but it never looked like the style I asked for.

Getting back to 'normal' phase

After a while the ends, that had been bleached to create that balayage effect, became so straw like that I had to get them cut off. I ended up going to a different hairdresser to get the good old half head of foils in order to restore any semblance of a decent hairdo.

From pink to blonde

Let's go crazy!

My most recent hairstyle change is probably the most crazy. Ever. From long blonde highlighted hair to short white hair with a few greeny blue streaks chucked in for good measure I sure have made a statement this time. Like I said earlier, I've never been scared to make radical changes to my hair. In fact I get a bit of a buzz (no pun intended - ok maybe a little) out of it.

Hair today, gone tomorrow

There's more to the change in style than trying to cultivate a new look. I have been having headaches that start around my scalp and shoot down through my head nearly every day for the past two or three years. I wrote about these headaches recently when I listed all the symptoms that have landed me here back in hospital. I also talked about my headaches when they seemed to disappear after I went 40 days without eating any sugar.

The pain always gave me this overwhelming desire to shave my head. As if my long, thick and heavy hair was to blame for the pain that's had me popping painkillers like lollies for years. Whether I had my hair back in a hair elastic or out falling down my back, my scalp still ached. Then last week, when I was readmitted to this psych hospital I've now been an inpatient at four times over the last five years, I decided: fuck it! The hair is going.

Have I been cured of my headaches? No. They are still there, messing with me physically and psychologically.

Do I feel refreshed from having a completely new look? Yes. I love that I have an actually 'style'. That I don't just wake up in the morning, throw my head forward, gather up my masses of hair and scrunch it into a hair-band. I love washing my locks everyday. Oh, the freshness of it all!

The moral of the story? Hair is fun, can make a statement, but cutting it all off won't necessarily cure you of chronic headaches.

Maybe I need to start thinking about cutting back on sugar again. Bugger.

Are you a person who likes to change hairstyles with your mood or
do you stick to the same trusty hairdo year after year?


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Dorothy said...

Loving your short do. It's a shame your headaches didn't go away. I can't have my hair long because it hurts too much.

Sorry to hear you're back in hospital and hope you feel better soon.

Lyndaal said...

Seeing you do this the other week made me realize I've had my hair uniform (everything pulled back away from my face) literally the past seven years, and it's made me begin to not give a crap about how I look - the opposite of everything I preach and value!!! Thankyou for instigating that thought process for me.... I finally have an appt with the hairdresser on Friday!!

Marnie said...

Love, love, love the short cut. Looking very Miley Cyrus there...and I bet you made your hairdressers week by letting them do you do.

Debbish said...

Wow! You went seriously short. I love short hair on women... I see so many peeps now with long hair is seems a bit passe!

I'm gonna join you soon!

Jeanie said...

Due to an inopportune line break, I read your headache cure as "disappear after I went 40 days without eating any" and I thought that was a bit radical.

And oh - I do admire your new locks - for what they represent in terms of letting go and trying to find a way forward - I recall a Summer in the early nineties, where I had chucked in career, lifestyle, just seen a non-flatmate (in terms of payment) off on her way back to Canada and arrived at a friend's kitchen in Newtown with a bottle of bubbly and a request to get out her clippers and take the lot of.


Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo said...

I freaking LOVE your new hair.

I wish I had the guts (and the head) to be able to rock that style.

And I am hearing you on wanting to chop it all off to relieve pain. I have some issues at the moment that are causing me to have a crazy itchy head and some days I just want to shave the whole lot off and smother my head in calamine lotion.

Parental Parody said...

Couldn't agree more - hair plays a mega part in how I feel. I mean, I see it every day in the mirror, and it's probably one of the easiest ways to perk up how I look and therefore how I feel about my look.

You seriously rocked the pink hair. My daughter was looking over my shoulder as I read the post and she went nuts - she loves Adventure Time and Princess Bubblegum. Just quietly, I am claiming parental rock star status because of it. I may have slightly exaggerated to her about how we totally know each other. Ahem.

But seriously, when I was very ill last year, a huge portion of my hair fell out by volume (no actual bald patches), and it was in terrible condition. It's taken almost a year to get some degree of health and volume back, and so I was just considering a colour change when I read this. It's funny, because I'd never actually directly associated what I do with my hair to my mood or feelings, but it seems so clear now after reading your post.

So anyway you are a genius with awesome hair.

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