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Self Perception Way Off.... Can't See That My Hair Has Turned Grey

Thread starter #1
I really would love some help with this one. My trauma happened when I was about 45 years old. I did not have grey hair.

About three years ago I had a woman describe me while I was present. She said very firmly that I had grey hair. I just about dropped on the floor. I swear to you I look in mirrors. All the time. I have asked trusted friends and they confirm I do, in fact, have grey hair. My grandchildren call my hair silver. People compliment me on my beautiful silver hair. I feel like a crazy person. I seem to be able to make decisions; take care of myself; am independent; don't rely on supports from anyone but someone I can't see my own hair color in the mirror?

It's almost like I can't see the 'new me' - the me that suffered the trauma but instead I am seeing my hair color to be the same as it was before the trauma. Can anyone else relate to this at all? It feels really screwed up and it has me wondering where else my perception is off. Does anyone else share this type of experience?
really would love some help with this one.
^Hey @shimmerz Idk what happened but I was thinking about you only a couple of days ago. Wondering if you were ok and hoping that you were safe & well. :hug: :)

Well I've had a similar experience. It was about two years ago and now it seems to happen just every now and then. I looked in the mirror & got a fright.

Suddenly I really did look my age. Oh I know that sounds like a cliche but it was much worse than a joke. I'm so serious. I've never been into make-up & that sort of thing so casting a critical eye over my face wasn't something I did. No super duper morning & night regime for me. Just brush teeth & hair and go. My profession had strict rules about that stuff anyway and I suppose it leached into my private life.

But, after many years of not taking any notice I suddenly noticed the wrinkles and stuff. I'm sure I've looked before but I've never really looked. I felt suddenly vulnerable, fragile & different & uncertain that I was really seeing the real me that the rest of the world out there sees. What else was there about me that looked strange, different?

It was as if I looked in that mirror and saw a stranger of sorts. Yeah I was there but a different me. Not the version that I had in my head. I was still thinking and pretty much expecting to feel like that younger person. The mirror told me different.

Has time stopped for us in our head because of the trauma? Idk I thought I was managing but that mirror told me different. Very unsettling.

I've no way of comforting you @shimmerz except to say that I know what you mean. :hug:
Thread starter #3
Yes, thank you @blackemerald1 it sounds like this is a similar example. I suspect as well that you are correct about the tie in to time and the inability to properly reflect that time has passed. I know that time plays a big part in my trauma. I do appreciate your sharing with me your experience with this. Interesting that my mind can literally trick me into believing I am Shimmerz 2.0 when actually I am now at least a Shimmerz 2020.
Thread starter #5
Does this bother you?
Bothers me to no end. I can't.don't understand it. It almost feels like I am in some sort of a time warp or something. To be honest, I have lost about 15 years to this trauma piece (45-60) and am almost thinking that I can't see the grey because I am still thinking I am pre-old enough for grey hair.

You are right, it is fascinating. And freaking me out. I don't think there is a denial so much as just an interruption of my perception of time. Hard to explain.... to anyone.... even myself! Yikes!
I think "denial" is the wrong word. Maybe dissociative? I don't think I've ever had the experience where my very perceptual ability didn't work. I would have distorted feelings about myself in the mirror, etc. Maybe in time, as you heal, you can integrate that side?
Currently, I'm 41 years old. I now see some gray hairs on my beard. But it doesn't bother me for two reasons, one, if I don't want to go gray, I can use hair coloring. And two, most of my life I haven't been all that concerned about my physical appearance.

So if you start seeing gray hairs in your hair, mustache, or beard, and it freaks you out, maybe you are too concerned about your looks.

It's normal to want to look good. But you don't want to be overly concerned about it, in my opinion.
No, the problem is I am not seeing the grey hairs while everyone is telling me that I am almost 100 percent grey. I believe it is a trauma thing.
I thought this was a really interesting point when you first posted and I think you’re spot on about it being a trauma thing.

Maybe it’s less that you don’t see the grey hairs, you probably see them, but your brain is stuck at seeing them and what they actually mean. It’s protecting you by trying to block out something that is maybe too hurtful to deal with?

If you think about people who have EDs and look in the mirror and see something completely different to what people around them see, it makes perfect sense that you can’t see the grey/silver.

Are you in therapy? Perhaps as you come to more of an acceptance of the trauma and how you as a person changed, eventually you’ll start the see the different you?
Thread starter #11
but your brain is stuck at seeing them and what they actually mean. It’s protecting you by trying to block out something that is maybe too hurtful to deal with?
Very good point @osiris. I will give that some thought. Thank you.

In answer to your question, yes, I have been in therapy for quite some time. I have serious life/living stuff going on still so haven't had a chance to address what seems to be this frivolous (in comparison) issue yet. I just wanted to reach out and see if anyone had an experience similar to this.

Thanks for taking time to respond.
haven't had a chance to address what seems to be this frivolous (in comparison) issue yet.
Not sure it is frivolous (even in comparison) if it’s about how you see yourself post trauma. That’s all mixed up together somehow ;)

I think that with PTSD, seeing ourselves as we really are is one hell of a difficult process, and treating ourselves with kindness even more so. I hope you find a way to embrace the silver when time makes that possible. :)
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