My nineteen year old daughter, Siobhan, has a beautiful head of thick copper colored hair. She was horrified this morning to find clumps of it coming out when she was washing it in the shower. I had noticed for a few weeks that the amount of red hair left in the shower was increasing, but just tried to make sure she was eating healthily.
Losing your hair is a natural part of the aging process, obviously for men, but also for women, after the menopause. My daughter and I sat down that evening, after work, to talk about her problem.
It turned out that she has been under a lot of stress at work recently, with extra responsibility being heaped on her because she is a willing worker. She has also had the usual share of boyfriend problems and a missed period. Combined with eating junk food five times a week and drinking half a bottle of vodka at a weekend this was playing havoc with her body chemistry.
Stress can have all kinds of unexpected effects. It can cause stomach upsets, wind and skin disorders as well as the more well known ailments like asthma and headaches.
I went to the chemist for a pregnancy test kit, attracting a few strange looks. Siobhan refused to go for one, so someone had to. She was not pregnant, so that was one big worry less. I explained to her that stress messes up a womans menstrual cycle and missed periods are commonly caused by stress.
I made her write out what she had eaten each day over the past week. It was a horrifying combination of salt, sugar, alcohol, fat and monosodium glutamate. When it was all set down on paper she could see why her body was not functioning normally. It would be a miracle if it had been!
We went to the fridge and freezer with a large black bag. Everything that was less than totally healthy went in the bag. This included oven chips, ready meals, pork chops, bacon, butter, full fat milk and cheese.
I rang my older daughter, Bernie, to come and take the bag away, that she could have it all because we no longer needed it. The grandchildren would love all the forbidden treats.
Siobhan and I made out a diet list for the week. This consisted of fruit, vegetables, salads, fish, chicken and vegetarian meals. We made a shopping list and went out there and then to buy everything we needed.
The next morning we both took the day off work, sick, and carried on our life-style change discussion. Exercise works well in reducing stress levels, so we rang a gym and agreed to go down that afternoon to look around.
Next we looked at our alcohol consumption. Bernie got a box of wine and vodka bottles, she could not believe her luck.
Siobhan and I have a way to go yet, but we have made a start on reducing her stress levels, and it is always easier to make lifestyle changes if you have company.
We still have to look at her relationship problems and work induced stress, but we have made a good start.