Tag Archives: cancer

Mental illness – The Elephant in the Room

Last month I sent an email newsletter titled “I’m done shooting”. The thought that I accomplished something new and different than I’ve ever experienced was exciting to me. Filming is the easy part (in my opinion). Production, distribution, the legalities and everything else that goes with filmmaking is the challenging part.

I was well on my way in the right direction!

The very next day, I received a call from a voice, unfamiliar to me. She sound distraught and left a message asking that I return the call ASAP. I returned the call immediately.

She began to tell me that a participant in my documentary “wasn’t honest” and in fact “doesn’t have cancer”, “never lost her hair” and was “never diagnosed with MS” (Multiple Sclerosis). Her voice was sad and regretful, telling me she apologizes that I spent my time filming and photographing “her” (the participant) not knowing that she wasn’t being honest.

She continued stating that “she” (the participant) suffered from mental illness and anorexia, and created a make-believe story. Fooling not just me, but also all of her family members and friends. NO ONE knew.

I could have been upset, frustrated and full of resentment, but those thoughts never crossed my mind. She apologized for “her” behavior but I sympathized for “her”.

What the caller didn’t know, is that I’ve been directly affected by mental illness and understand the seriousness of it. Including that fact that most people cannot fathom the severity of the experience. I admit I don’t completely comprehend it, because I am not mentally ill, but the experiences with my loved ones has influenced my thoughts.

Almost 5 years have passed since my Sis committed suicide. I remember having conversations with family members trying to convince them that a lot of her behavior didn’t seem normal. And mentioned that getting upset with her wasn’t going to help her situation because I felt that she couldn’t help her thoughts and at times, her actions.

In turn, she decided she no longer wanted to suffer and took her life.

Several of my close family members, who’ve experienced trauma in their childhood, have also been affected by mental illness. Some have been diagnosed while others are in denial. As a child I had a gut feeling that certain actions were’t normal. Especially when it came to communication.

Going back, the phone call I received a few weeks ago didn’t get me upset, as one may think it should.

I must admit, I would have thought differently a few years ago, but my experience with mental illness has taught me otherwise. Instead of being in a frenzied, I’ve learned to be patient, not take things as personal and move on.

In the end, I deeply sympathized with this young lady and her family.

Unfortunately, I do have to spend more time to find another participant (with a hair story as unique as hers) as well as invest more time and money to re-film, re-shoot and edit. Not an easy task but it is something that I will get done.

“1 in 5 adults are affected by mental illness”.

Regrettably there is still much shame and guilt attached to it when brought up. It’s one of those topics that is still “the elephant in the room”.

Discuss it. Try to understand it. Be sympathetic but aware. Give your loved ones the love and support when they need it. Sometimes it can’t heal so you must also be prepared to let go when necessary.

Be well,

~Alyscia

“Hair is an accessory. Not a defining trait.”

“Hair is just an accessory. Not a defining trait. I don’t have to have hair to be beautiful. My hair doesn’t justify who I am. Beauty comes from within. A beautiful heart and soul makes a beautiful person. So through my life’s journey, I have learned to love all the things about me that I once thought imperfect.”
~Nketia, 62

Read more: https://www.facebook.com/IAmMoreThanMyHair/photos/a.300453623483252.1073741828.230282350500380/546103318918280/?type=3&theater

bald-beautiful-62-nketia

#IAmNotMyHair #MoreThanMyHair #baldandbeautiful #naturalbeauty #beauty #beautywithin #hair #cancer #alopecia #solidarity #documentary #coffeetablebook #selflove

May Their Souls Rest In Peace

This week I received news that I wasn’t expecting. Ms. Yvonne Johnson, a participant in my first book, Feminine Transitions, passed away. On the same day, I received an email for a link to a blog post about the passing of Debbie Osarere, a participant in my upcoming book, I Am More Than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me.

Images from Feminine Transitions
Sunrise February 10, 1941 – Sunset April 5, 2016
I Am More Than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me
Sunrise August 1, 1984 – Sunset April 1, 2016

The culprit? Cancer.

For privacy purposes I won’t get into the details of their diagnosis, but I will say Cancer is an epidemic and it is taking the lives of too many of our loved ones.

We Can Stop the Cancer Epidemic, by educating ourselves, our families and knowing what to avoid. Although it’s hard to completely avoid all chemicals such as chem trails sprayed in the air by our government and pesticides in our foods, we can reduce our rate of cancer diagnosis by eating healthy (try growing your own food), exercising daily and doing your best to have a piece of mind (no stress).

I’m not a doctor, neither is this a diagnosis. Just like everyone else I’m fed  up of the epidemic taking the lives of family and friends.

I ask to please keep Ms. Yvonne Johnson and Debbie Osarere’s family, any of your loved ones that have passed or holding on for dear life and those that are alive and well, in your thoughts and prayers. May these two beautiful souls continue to rest in peace.

~Be well… Alyscia

 

Shanna Tells Her Story Behind Shaving Her Hair After Losing Her Father To Cancer.

Video Clip of Shanna's Story

“My father, he was diagnosed with cancer in his early 60’s. It was colon cancer that ended up the size of a football and spread throughout his lungs. He tried all types of things. I went to visit him in Thailand. He saw a spiting monk of all things, to try for his healing processes. He found this pill, Any Horse Can Count. It was a herbal remedy he used that kept him from loosing his hair when going through chemo. He didn’t loose it because of that pill. I wished he had tried more natural options.

Unfortunately he didn’t make it, and it was really tough. Sometime shortly later, I just need a change in my life. I had long hair all my life since a little kid, never done anything different. So I shaved it. I wanted to get a Thai warrior cut and stay connected. I ended up shaving the sides and that’s what I did.
I am more than my hair because my hair does not define me. I am who I am am, no matter what you see. No matter what I wear, no matter what I look like, I will always be myself.”
~Shanna, 38

Portrait of an "I Am More Than My Hair" participant, Shanna, 38.
Portrait of an “I Am More Than My Hair” participant, Shanna, 38.

I Am More Than My Hair: New Project and Crowdfunding Campaign

So I’m finally letting the cat out the bag. In a previous newsletter I mentioned I was working on a new project but didn’t give any specifics.  And I’ve received tons of calls from friends and family inquiring why they haven’t heard much from me lately.

To tell the truth, over the past several months I have been in hiatus. Besides taking some needed time for myself, doing mommy duty and starting amazing entrepreneurship classes with Empowered Women International, I have been focusing on an upcoming photography book project.

Today I am SUPER EXCITED to announce to the world… I Am More Than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me!
I Am More Than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me

I Am More Than My Hair is a photography book celebrating the beauty of baldness (bare headed).  It includes participants who have lost their hair due to alopecia, cancer, trichotillomania or any other hair loss condition as well as those who cut their hair in support of a loved one.

On January 12, 2015 (changed date to reflect the criteria of a successful campaign and to give me more time to organize), I will launch a crowdfunding campaign for my upcoming book and I ask for your support in helping to make it a success by spreading the word. $25,000 raised will help me with the production of I Am Not My Hair as well as professional assistance with marketing, design, editing, layout as well as assistance from a publicist and administrative assistant. In other words…through my first book I’ve learned that hiring a professional is a tremendous benefit. And although I remain self-published,  I am making some tweaks this time around.

Serene getting a henna crown by henna artist Deepti Khona, founder of Henna Harmony DC Metro. Serene did not loose her hair but instead shaved it in support of her friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer. That's a true friend.
Serene getting a henna crown by henna artist Deepti Khona, founder of Henna Harmony DC Metro. Serene did not loose her hair but instead shaved it in support of her friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer. That’s a true friend.

As with Feminine Transitions, I Am Not My Hair is a social-change project paying tribute to the girls and women who’ve lost their hair involuntarily and to those who cut their hair in solidarity.
I Am More Than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me

Through this journey I have noticed there is an undeniable radiance in bare headed females. In my opinion, attention isn’t drawn to them due to a lack of hair. Instead their features become more captivating. You truly see raw beauty as hair is not a distraction.

“The best way I can describe my experience is without the focus on hair you truly see the soul.”

Simply beautiful!

I Am More Than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me

Until then, expect a newsletter about my participation at EWI’s  upcoming Artisan Food & Marketplace as well as other unique holiday gift ideas.

Please also share share this information with any girls and women that may be interested in participating in my project. My contact information can be found on my website www.Alyscia.com.

Peace & blessings,

Alyscia