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She wants me to pay to have her head shaved

Old 03-21-2019, 08:35 PM
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She wants me to pay to have her head shaved

Yes, that's right.

I got a text from my niece who is Mentally Ill (Bipolar) and Chemically dependent. She asked me to pay to have her head professionally shaved because she has a bunch of bald spots from pulling her hair out.

One of the many symptoms of her mental state is that when she gets stressed she fusses with her hair so much it breaks off and she ends up with bald spots. When she was at her worst, she would insist it was "tangled" and she was trying to get the tangles out.

When she left treatment after 6 months, it had grown back. I did pay for a professional hair cut for her so she looked better.

Then she moved in with the boyfriend, they fought every day several times a day, called the police a bunch, they both got evicted, then she lived with me for 40 days until a bed at a supportive living situation came open. A couple weeks before she left this past Monday for that facility, I noticed a bald spot. (I noticed she was wearing a hat in the house and that is my first tip-off that she's pulling her hair out again).

My hypothesis is that the stress of living with the boyfriend (who became homeless and is in treatment himself right now - also MI/CD) and then living back at my house with all the memories and triggers probably has increased her anxiety and set of her mental illness in some way.

So on the one hand, she probably would look OK bald (she is pretty). But - is it the right thing for me to pay for?

She does not have the money to pay for it herself. And I think she wants to shave her head for a clean start - but I wonder if that isn't just masking the problem. I think if she shows up at her doctors office in the summer with a hat on, they might realize she has some symptoms she not sharing. If she shows up bald, she'll probably just say its a fashion statement.

Of course, as I write this I see I'm trying to "control" things again. Maybe I'm answering my own question - whether it is mental illness or some symptom triggered by using, maybe its better to let it be so that her Higher Power can work with her.

I am always trying to "make it better" when its not just about getting her hair cut, it's about managing her illness so she does not pull it out in the first place. I wonder if she thinks having her head shaved would break her of the habit of pulling on her hair? (I can see I am overthinking this - why can't I stop?)

Any thoughts or input would be welcome. Thanks
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Old 03-21-2019, 09:21 PM
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troubledone….you are going to have to work hard to break you habit of enabling and trying to take over her responsibilities.....
Everyone that I know of who has a shaved head,,,,does it by themselves or by some friend who has an electric shaver....
Remember that you are trying to teach an adult to become Independent.

Being Bipolar and/or chemically dependent is not an excuse to coddle her ……
She has to learn to become independent and responsible for herself, like every other person.....otherwise, you are going to keep her hampered.....

She may not like it...but,you can't let that stop you. Remember that you DO NOT have to
JADE every time she makes a request.
J...justify A...argue D..defend yoursekf E...explain yourself.

You are going to have to learn the power of "no".
Say what you mean; mean what you say; but, don't say it mean....
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Old 03-22-2019, 06:16 AM
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Dandylion - thank you so much.

Two things stand out - 1- remember that I am trying to teach an adult to be independent (and one that is fighting it every step of the way)

and 2 -
I had never heard the term JADE - and you are right. The whole reason I insisted she move to the assisted living facility is that I think the only way she ever will gain any reasonable amount of independence is through that route.

Whenever I post here, I see how much work I still have to do on myself.

And, I'm seeing in myself that it really is coddling her - still! That I still keep trying to figure out if "helping" her is the right thing or not and that's not my place.

I am realizing the number I do on myself by
1) realizing I don't want to do something she asks, but then doubting myself
2) judge myself as a bad person if I do not do it because she's hurting and judge myself as a bad person if I do it because that's enabling ,
3) have an inner conflict where I JADE with myself (doing all those things back and forth for the two different paths - do or not do)
4) exhaust myself with rumination and then
5) give in.

I can circumvent all this wasted time and energy by just going with my initial gut feeling (which was a nauseating physical reaction to even thinking about doing this) and letting my Higher Power correct me later if I'm wrong.

And reminding myself that she has a Higher Power too.
She is in a safe place with food, shelter and support.

Thanks for the clarity - I'm still reeling from the effort it took to get her to the facility she's at.
Blessings!
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Old 03-22-2019, 07:29 AM
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She doesn't need to pay to shave her head (what a strange request).
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Old 03-22-2019, 07:33 AM
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Troubledone…….I think you are gaining a lot of insight. It does take a lot of practice, though. It is especially hard, in the beginning, because you are stepping out of your long time comfort zone.
However, it will get easier to do, as you go along, and get used to honoring the boundaries.
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Old 03-22-2019, 12:55 PM
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The head shaving, I do recall many in the teens- 20s age group did that when I was that age. Nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but there were definitely a few cases where the people also just happened to be deeply troubled. And everyone either did it themselves, or had a friend do it.

But I think it’s just another one of those bring me this, bring me that, do this for me, do that for me, self absorbed things, it is pretty common. And if your niece sniffs out any inner conflict/ feeling bad about setting limits from your end, she’ll surely use that to her advantage. It’s all about her right now, your feelings or how this is affecting you is of no concern to her. If anything, your conflict is an asset to her. It’s just the nature of the beast, unfortunately. Sorry you are going through this. I’d keep my poker face on best that I could, if I were in your shoes.
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Old 03-22-2019, 01:22 PM
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from now on, every time the sentence starts with:

she wants me to PAY for....

your automatic reply is NO. you have paid and paid. as someone said on SR the other day, we can't BUY them sober. we can't BUY them well. if throwing money at the problem FIXED it, there would be no problems.

her text request was one sentence-ish. go back and look at how many lines of rationalize, defending and supporting that one request you then put forth. you really think she is giving ANYTHING that much thought?

no. she see, she wants. she's the 2 yr old riding in the jump seat of the basket at the grocery store. it doesn't matter what aisle you are in, she wants SOMETHING. want want want, mine mine mine.

the more you can detach, unhook, not be so connected to everything she does, everywhere she goes, everything she says or wants, the better. it changes rapidly. let her find another captive audience. or let her find that she just can't get everything handed to her, or paid for by others.
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Old 03-22-2019, 02:29 PM
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I am nodding at all the wisdom in the posts above.

If she wants a shaved head, she can shave it. That's what people do.

Please give yourself a break and take as good care of you as you try to do for her. She can take care of herself. The hard question (asked with love) is...can you?

I was the last of the Let Go'ers. Or I would let go and grab back on. Not one single time, not ONE, was it a good idea to hang on and continue enabling my son.

Let go or get dragged. One of my favourite expressions here.
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Old 03-22-2019, 05:11 PM
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Thank you all for so much wisdom. It is amazing how helpful it is for me to get your various perspectives.

And - how a simple request can hook me.
Thanks!
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Old 03-22-2019, 08:50 PM
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Troubledone, you are a wonderful person, caring and self-aware. Don't be surprised if next time you see her she has a shaved head though! Scissors and a razor.
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Old 03-23-2019, 07:00 AM
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FeelingGreat, thank you for your message.

I needed to hear that I am not a bad person, and I think you are right. I may get a shock the next time I see her.

For some reason, her hair is a "thing" for her - I've been shocked before - cornrows when she was in jail, 75 shades of blond until her hair was so damaged it looked like straw.

This really is about letting go - thanks!
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Old 03-23-2019, 08:12 AM
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I so hear you, Troubledone. My son is my addict and has the same expectations. Thinks I'm there just to continuously dish out money.
Apparently, he has no gas/electric or food - this is because he blew £350 in 2 days. Didn't buy food, or top up his meters. What did he think was going to happen? He thought Mother was going to do it for him! Not happening! Been there and done that and I'm sick fed up of it. He said he had "bills" to pay - yeah, drug debts! He made the choices, so he must deal with the consequences. He also admitted to dealing "whatever drugs", recently, therefore, I will not be in his flat. I won't jeoperdise my job and life. He's crossed that line, and he couldn't give a jot how anyone else could be affected by his behaviours. Ive told him I will report him to the police.
He bombarded me with vile and abusive txts, and left me without a name. Not nice to read txts like that from your son - so I blocked him on my mobile. I don't need to read such disgusting rubbish.
regarding shaving of the head, funnily ebough, this is something he always does when he' " mad as a brush".
It's sad, but I may have to go completely no contact as he is becoming more and more aggressive and so unpredictable. I refuse to put myself in a vulnerable situation - no matter that he's my son.

Stand your ground, Troubledone .

Much Love
Bute x
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Old 03-23-2019, 12:03 PM
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Troubledone…..how can you think yourself as a "bad person".....!?
You sound like a really kind and loving person...…
This is what I suspect.....that your self esteem is low and needs some building....
I imagine that feeling like you are a "bad person" comes from seeds that were planted, when you were young, that have led you to do a lot of negative self talk to yourself...…
Change that self-talk......
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Old 03-23-2019, 01:45 PM
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Bute -
Thank you for your support. I admire your strength - I wish I had that same kind of strength in the past - but I can and will stand my ground now.

dandylion - you hit the nail on the head. I recently realized that somewhere deep inside I feel unworthy to have a free and rewarding life - that somehow my self worth is a measure of how much I fix and save other people. I also have come to realize the source of it in my past. With the help of my Higher Power, I am realizing it and setting better boundaries. I know if I keep this up, I'll be increasingly free and happy.

Incidentally, My sister just sent me a picture my niece/addict posted on facebook. She shaved most of her head (left a little in front) and the picture includes the dysfunctional boyfriend who obviously helped her do it and shaved his head also. So - I was worried for nothing.. she's still involved with a troublemaker, but not my problem anymore.

thanks to all for everything!
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Old 03-25-2019, 12:40 PM
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As a mental health counselor, I thought I might mention trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder.) This is a treatable mental health condition. Although the severity of hair pulling varies widely, many people with trichotillomania have noticeable hair loss, which they attempt to camouflage. Thinning or bald spots on the head may be covered with hairstyles, scarves, wigs, or makeup. Those with missing eyelashes, eyebrows, or body hair, may attempt to camouflage with makeup, clothing, or other means of concealing affected areas.
This is just for your consideration. She should see a professional for diagnosis and treatment.
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Old 03-26-2019, 08:25 AM
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NWDad

Thank you and yes, I have tried numerous times to encourage my niece to consult her mental health professionals about this issue. She is 37 and and adult, so encouragement is about all I can do (I think).

If you have the inclination to read the following, I wouldn't mind some flat out advice from you if there is something I'm missing.

She did see a dermatologist that diagnosed trichotillomania about 9 months ago. My niece used the shampoos and scalp treatment the dermatologist prescribed but she said the doctor didn't know what they were talking about - that her hair was tangled and she was trying to get the tangles out. (which was delusional because it was clearly not tangled)

I did buy the book - "I'm not sick, I don't need help" because I became aware that my niece, in addition to her chemical dependency had mental health issues - (she's been diagnosed bipolar, ADHD, OCD, PTSD, Borderline, etc. Every doctor she sees seems to have a different diagnosis) - and she seems to be in denial that there is any problem. I recall there is actually a clinical name for this denial but I forget what it is. Anyway, when I suggested that her therapist might be able to help (or psychiatrist or doctor), she barked back that I didn't know what I was talking about and all her problems were my fault for crushing her spirit.

I tried all the techniques in the book to no avail and after another few months she was in a full blown psychosis, and after quite a series of events landed in the mental hospital and she was committed by the doctors there.

In any case, even now, she'll do just about anything besides share this issue with her doctors. I did write a letter to the person who prescribes her meds (the only one of her doctors I've been able to identify by sneaking a peek at her pill bottles while she lived here), but for some reason, that person just keeps dispensing the same pill for ADHD and anxiety.

The odd thing is that my niece's hair grew back while in treatment. Then when she moved here, within about 20 days, I started noticing symptoms - hair pulling and poor sleep patterns (up all night, sleep most of the day).

I found a beer can in her room, so I suspect that she might have begun using something (if only alcohol) while here. We live in a large house, so if a person is up all night, there are plenty of opportunities. And, over the past 15 years she's lived here off and on, so I fear that there are a bunch of triggers and memories here that make it hard to be her and stay sober. This is why when the sober living/supportive care environment opened up I insisted she move there even though she didn't want to.

All in all, when I see the old symptoms emerge (grandiose ideas about her business, hair pulling, crazy sleep patterns, irritability, poor impulse control, etc.) I know somethings up - I just never know what it is (mental illness, chemical dependency or what). And, I also have learned that I just don't have the means to deal with it successfully.

By the way, her current diagnosis is ADHD and BiPolar - but she's also been through a LOT of trauma both at the hands of her father and as a result of being a drug dealer. So there may be some PTSD and other stuff in there.

I do think that her brain chemistry is very delicate and at the same time she is in denial about needing to stay sober. I know she drank two bottles of wine with her boyfriend (also mentally ill/chemically dependent) recently and she vapes CBD oil, smokes, etc.

So, I think shaving her head is one way she is dealing with this condition - I just wonder if its the best way. I do wish she would be more open with her doctors and psychiatrists. She blocks me from talking with them, and keeps her medical info secret, so I am at a loss regarding how to help other than get her into a situation where there are professionals that can observe and intervene if needed.

Am I missing any opportunities?

Thanks for taking time to post - the opinions of those in the profession mean a lot to me. Over the past 15 years I've tried to piece together the pieces to help her, but I learn something new every day also!
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Old 03-26-2019, 08:25 AM
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You did the right thing.

You are a lovely person with a kind and giving heart who just wants what is best for her.

However...you know better than to enable her any more. You are free from that, and you deserve to be free from it no matter what she thinks about it.

Huge hugs!
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Old 03-26-2019, 11:42 AM
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Troubledone JMO but she may be mentally ill or it could be the drugs. until she gets off the drugs again my opinion you can throw all the labels out the door. I was diagnosed bipolar while using. I am not bi polar depressed maybe but not bipolar unless my doc comes in then I may be manic. Just a thought
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Old 03-29-2019, 08:49 AM
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Trichotillomania is a mental health diagnosis and will not be treated with creams or anything similar. She needs therapy. She likely didn't act out while she was being observed in treatment. Now she's not. And that's OK. Nobody can watch her 24-7 and shouldn't. The best feedback I can give is she sounds like she needs recovery-both from substances and her mental health symptoms. It sounds like you are working MUCH harder on this then she is.
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Old 03-29-2019, 10:38 AM
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NW Dad - thank you!

I appreciate the observation that I'm working on it harder than her. Sadly, that is true. I continue to struggle find the right balance between loving her and being there for her without having it take over my life. Thanks for the insight.

I also appreciate that it is a mental health diagnosis. I suspected as such. That is why I wish her therapist (she does have one) and her psychiatrist knew about it - but she hides it from the very people that could help her. I don't know what to do about that since I don't know who they are and she won't share that info with me.

She did go through about 4 months of MI/CD treatment. It always seems like a band-aid on a heart attack - it doesn't seem to "stick" for long. (this was the third course of treatment for her in the past 15 years - not counting time in jail and sober living situations).

Anyway, I guess this is all another reason I wanted her to be in a supported living situation - she has a room mate and there are social workers on staff, which is so much better than living in my house where I never know what she'll do next. I do wish with all my heart she could find healing and happiness, I just don't know what more I can do. I keep praying...

Thanks for the post!
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