I'm thinning. Such a dramatic realisation hit me like a cold shower in December: unwelcome and harsh. It's the painful ill fortune of such calamity, a stark and unforgiving tale of life.
Why me? I question, as I awaken hunched under the falling water that is my life, why must someone so young endure such hardship?
It saw me through my teenage years: a canvas of expression. Atop my sullen teenage face, tired and loathing, was a dark mop of mouldable wonder - I used to spend hours straightening it, waxing it, sculpting it, caressing it. Now, I cannot: my hair is slowly diminishing.
At the tender age of 22, I am the cold recipient of 'male pattern baldness', and I'm far, far too young to have to deal with a hairless life, too young to accept or acknowledge the suitably stereotyped 30-plus catastrophe.
Scouring the web for information on how to stop this disastrous loss has proven to be a burden - and a horrible way to spend an evening. Typing 'baldness prevention' into Google did not provide good news.
I trawled through myth and legend to uncover the truth, excavating scientific fact amid dirty promises and lies.
On Boots' website, it says 9 out of 10 men keep their hair when using the 'Boots Hair Retention Programme,' which costs £45 for four weeks. I'd imagine, that you would need more than four weeks of treatment - and it puzzles me slightly, as to why there are so many men walking around as bald as eggs, if the programme works so well.I went back to basics: NHS online. Their trustworthy guidance would surely offer some degree of nourishing promise. One poignant line, struck me:
The truth was loud and clear: I'm fucked.
"If you have inherited the genes responsible for male - or female - pattern baldness, there is not much that you can do to prevent it."
So why has this turmoil plagued generations for as long as history began? How is it that we can send a man to the moon, to the depths of the ocean floor, but cannot guarantee him a beautiful set of locks upon doing so?
To be honest, I don't care for the reasons why. I just want to find a cure, to redeem my head from trepidation.
Wayne Rooney has recently demonstrated a way out: hair transplants. I pondered as to why this wasn't such a regular occurrence. Well, they start at around £3000; I don't know many people who can afford such lavish surgery. Those that can are over 30, and they don't seem to care enough. It's paradoxical to say the least.
There must be a cheaper way to tackle the descent? Alpecin Caffeine Shampoo perhaps? Unfortunately not, while there is evidence supporting scalp stimulation regarding this product - it isn't a cure.
I journeyed forth to find a middle ground: somewhere between all-out Hollywood spending, and a quick-fix German formula that simply buys you time.And so began consultation with my girlfriend, what I hoped would be an encouraging opinion. It seemed she had done research of her own (my fight with retention has worried her, too):
I felt like crying. I vowed never to rub onions upon my thankless mind.
"Josh, apparently you can rub onions on your hair - the juices from the root brings blood to the surface and stimulates the follicles. That's pretty cheap."
There is though, some reasoning to this seemingly preposterous idea. Like the old wives tale of 'standing on your head' - it increases the blood flow and is said to invigorate. So, rub onions on my head and then prop myself upside down against the wall, like some onion obsessed circus act? I needed other options.
Wikipedia explains that there are medications that can help: "finasteride, dutasteride and topically applied minoxidil" - but none regrow hair, they only "reduce" or "delay" the effects.
I found myself straying from the 'legitimate' path. Sifting through online remedies nestled next to adverts stating: "grow your penis three inches in a month," I realised maybe I was not so experimental after all.
On the 'Hair Loss Help Forum', a gentleman from Tucson, Texas, said he had taken out a £10,000 loan to pursue a hair transplant. He is 24. He also told me that hair loss affects around 40 million men in the United States. "I don't want to lose my hair either, but I would never spend that much money on vanity," I said, "you may as well just join the other 40 million sufferers."
"I didn't think I would either, man, but just you wait until you have to start the comb-over,"
Well, I do not have £10,000, and if I ever do, I have promised myself never to spend it on the male version of a boob job. I must simply begin to adjust, to prepare for a life without a head full of hair. There will be shampoos that give hope; there will be products and creams that give a glimpse of the youthful vigour that once graced my mournful brow; but there is no cure, there is no retribution.
And so begins, the fateful, hallowed pilgrimage: towards the bald.