If Dr Christian Will See You Now wasn’t a television show, I’d love to be on it. I’m too camera-shy to bare my soul onscreen, but boy would I love a bit of that Dr Christian magic when it comes to the unreasonable thoughts I have about my unsightly head.
At 35 years of age, I’ve been battling a receding hairline for roughly a decade. The war isn’t over, but I think we’ve reached some version of a ceasefire, at least for the moment. I may as well make use of this relative victory, and let you know what to expect if you’re ever on the receiving end of follicular abandonment.
“I haven’t lost a single strand of hair, my forehead is merely more pronounced today.”
"I haven’t lost a single strand of hair, my face puffs out when I’m stressed and it makes all my other features seem smaller.”
“I haven’t lost a single strand of hair, my hairline is like a sandy beach’s tide marking – it moves back and forth.”
While you might not make any of the above pronouncements out aloud – they’ll almost definitely enter your mind. The younger one experiences the first signs of the recede, the more susceptible one is to extreme denial.
If you’re at all civilised, you’ll keep any outward expressions of anger at a minimum and let the rage fester inside as you seethe at full heads of hair and flip the invisible bird at passing wig shops. In your mind’s eye, you can stand on a street corner and lop off as many sexy fringes and quaffs as your heart desires, as long as it remains in your mind’s eye.
Rinse and repeat until the anger subsides.
When it comes to early onset baldness, bargaining comes in many forms. You may organise a sit-down with your version of God (if you’re an atheist, you may want to schedule a meet with the unknowable universe or your fond memories of Christopher Hitchens) and promise you’ll ratchet up your good works tenfold if he/she/it reverses the balding process. If you receive no answer, you may end up organising a similar sit-down with your version of Satan, though I would do your research beforehand.
Pleading with anyone or thing – be it deity or doctor – is probably a fruitless pursuit. Sure, both might be able to offer you consolation in the form of unconditional love or conditional treatment, but the longer you prolong the bargaining, the more you’re delaying the following…
This stage is so inherently evil it may as well come with its own toothbrush moustache. Depression over something as cosmetic as hair loss might seem silly to the outsider, but the negative thought spiral that can ensue post-bargaining feels a lot worse than it sounds.
“I will never again have a full head of hair” begets “I will always stand out in an elevator’s security camera” begets “I am no longer a whole man” begets “I have begun my journey down the downhill slide that ends in a puddle of death” begets “I should write up a will” begets “I don’t have anything to include in a will except a clump of dead hair.”
Once the depression period ends and you finally change (or decide to put on) underwear, chances are you’ll become hyper-aware of the gulf that is your recede. During a conversation, if the other person averts their eyes for even a microsecond, you’ll probably mentally accuse them of fixating on your hairline or bald spot.
Don’t speak your accusation out aloud – let it flow through you until it passes. If you probed the other person, you’d probably find out they were merely distracted by the decision over which marinade to elect for that evening’s chicken.
This stage usually involves a sudden fascination with millinery or the realisation that when you shave your head you look nothing like Jason Statham.
Dr Christian Will See You Now airs Mondays on SBS at 7:35pm.
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