…life on the synaptic firing range

Location: Los Angeles, United States

Bent but unbroken Southern California native seeks understanding, companionship, and resonance along and off the beaten path. Teresa plays well with others and makes every effort to perform to her potential. Usually. *processed in a facility that processes nuts and nut products

Sunday, February 11, 2007

i'm too sexy for (my) hair

Due to a confluence of recent events I found it deeply necessary to shave my head. Again. This marks the second such episode in my life. Let's call them my Otter Periods. OPs arise during times of suicidal depression, and I've found that mine is not such a unique response to that most perilous mood swing. In chatting with my friends at the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance forums, plenty of women have come forward to say, "You get urges to shave your head when you're depressed? Me too!" and more than a few (straight women, at that) have also obeyed the urge. It's both disarming and illuminating to discover that something I've always thought a personal quirk is in truth fairly common.

Where I may claim some diversion is in the aftermath. Many women who shave their heads during depressive periods say they do so out of an urge to self-mutilate; and isn't it better to attack dead cell filaments than flesh? Afterward most say they found themselves ugly, and few choose to maintain the look.

My first head-shearing urge came over me in my mid 20s. I awoke one morning with a wicked compulsion to shave my head and, as if under hypnosis, I got dressed, walked to my local Rite-Aid, bought clippers, and returned home to do the deed. Under all that hair I found that I have quite a shapely scalp, and for the first time in my life I thought I looked kind of extraordinary, in a good way. I kept it buzzed for two years. Some people (friends, girlfriends) loved it; others (my mom) hated it.

I was waiting tables at the time and my tips went through the roof, the result, I think, of altered expectations. I looked serious and a bit mean, and when I proved to be a friendly sort I was rewarded just for being me—there was no change in my personality, just a shift in societal perception.

(Note: A brief period of hairlessness occurred between my first OP and this last, but because it was motivated not so much by intense depression as by a bad haircut it cannot be considered a clinical OP.)

Fifteen years on the urge made itself known again. This time I knew a couple of things in advance, namely that (1) shaving my head has vast potential to lift my spirits, and (2) I have a shapely scalp. So it should have been a gimme, yes? Well, not entirely. It's not that I feel particularly old at 39, but I certainly feel older than I did at 25, and I had an attack of self-doubt that I could still pull this look off. Maybe folks would attribute my aesthetic choice not so much to youthful freedom as to midlife crisis. Or cancer.

I resisted the urge for several months.

Here's where the aforementioned confluence of events comes in. I've recently emerged from a short stay in a psychiatric hospital, about which I'll write more later. It was my first such commitment, and I expect and hope that it will be my last. I made a pact with myself that when I was released I would pull out all the stops to fight that bully in my psyche who taunts and torments me until I feel that I can no longer accept responsibility for keeping myself safe.

It's difficult to articulate why shaving my head is for me such a powerful antidepressant. I do like the way I look, but it isn't a simple matter of self-esteem. It's an expression of personal freedom, a letting go of concerns over what people think, what my mother thinks. In making myself less conventionally attractive I make explicit the idea that I seek no one's approval but my own. And there's a powerful sense of light and calm that washes over me when I remember to live first for myself, second for those who accept me as I am, and not another moment for those who do not.

Here I am, four days on. (My hair grows like a weed.)


Blogger Rob F said...

I don't know if this is the right word; but I enjoyed browsing through your blog.

Hang in there.

3:58 PM  
Blogger sporksforall said...

What she's leaving out here is how wonderfully tactile the stroking of her head is. The four day growth is optimum. Very velvety. She's let a few folks touch her head in this current OP, but I may declare a Sporks-only zone. Doesn't being the gf/partner/whatever get you some special priveleges?

Oh and the head is wonderfully shapely. Yes it is.

4:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Girl, there is no testosterone about your look. It's definitely striking and sexy. Stop listening to your mother. Damn I wish I had your skin and that thick growthy mane! My head is pointy. People used to call me Nefertiti and I don't think they were talking about my rack. ;)

Spork, I agree that there should be a Spork-only zone. However I would stop short of enforcing it with an Elizabethan collar... it would make typing difficult... Perhaps instead, a reflective vest that says "Therapeutic Cyclist: Do not Pet (feed me pancakes)."

-- islandfarmgirl

7:06 AM  
Blogger Slangred said...

In all fairness, I asked your permission before I touched your head, and I'm glad I did, because it is about as velvety as velvety can be. Yummy.
I've never (yet) had the urge to shave my head when I'm feeling despondent; I wonder if that means something kind of scary about my desire/need to look the way people "want" me to?? Hmmmm. I'd better get serious about the tatoo, then.
I'm glad you and your velvety head are back where I can be around you.
Much love, always-

11:06 AM  
Blogger KMae said...

You look GREAT!!
It's so good to read you again.
I'll be looking fwd to your next entry about this past journey you went thru.
Welcome back.

8:42 PM  
Blogger weese said...

I like it.
Its a good look for you.
If I were to meet you... yes, I would ask to touch it.
While I have no depresion, i too recently vascillated over buzzing my hair down. I think it was the age thing... I am not young and svelt - nor yet old enough to make it really cool.
lets see what happens when i hit 50.
stay strong.

9:19 AM  
Blogger the only daughter said...

Touching post and velvety hair. You look fantastic and welcome back.

9:42 AM  
Blogger treecup said...

I've shaved my eyebrows in depression before. It did not make me particularly happy or attractive, so I stopped there.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Sounds like some great reasons for taking this step and shaving your head. You look good btw. It works for you. Not everyone can pull it off! And is that a "Life is Good" t-shirt you're wearing? How poetic!

Happy V-Day!!

1:17 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Ok...was there a link to a picture, or a picture in the post? Gimme a picture, mannnnnnnn.

You know, you're good at this whole 'writing' thing.

4:51 PM  
Blogger WenWhit said...

Love it, Scoutster. :)

6:56 PM  
Blogger Gunfighter said...

You DO have a nice looking head... Very cool.

I was shaving my head regularly when I met Mrs Gunfighter... she always said she liked the shape of my head.

It looks good on you, pal, so if you like it, keep doing it!

Be strong!


7:03 AM  
Blogger Sandra said...

I wish I had the guts to do that. I have always fought the urge. You look fantastic, very hot!

9:23 PM  
Blogger sari said...

life IS good. you look awesome.

3:38 PM  
Blogger ellipsis said...

wicked fierce, chick. Love it.

9:39 AM  
Blogger Little Blue Petal said...

The otter-look is fab Scout. Hope you are feeling better.

8:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Same thing happened to me. Last night I got all depressed and thought about saying fuck it. Saw the scissors but knew that I'd never be selfish enough to kill myself. Then I got pissed off went into the bathroom and shaved my head. This is the first time I've acted out against myself before. In the past I've punched myself in the face but that's only when I don't do shit about my problems. Anyways. I just kind of find comfort in knowing that I'm not the only one that has done this related to depression.

9:52 PM  
Anonymous Hair design said...

Its quiet pretty to have your own freedom of expression. I inspire with your blog. I hope that you will post more and thank you for sharing.

2:44 AM  
Anonymous Hair design said...

Its quiet pretty to have your own freedom of expression. I inspire with your blog. I hope that you will post more and thank you for sharing.

2:44 AM  

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