Ricki Lake posted a photo of herself on New Year's Day with a very closely-cropped haircut and shared a deeply personal story.
"Liberated and Free, Me. First things first, I am not sick. (THANK GOD.) I am not having a mid-life crisis. nor am I having a mental breakdown, though I have been suffering. Suffering mostly in silence off and on for almost 30 years. AND I am finally ready to share my secret," she wrote in lengthy posts on Instagram and Facebook. "Deep breath Ricki.... Here goes..... I have been struggling with hair loss for most of my adult life."
It's been "debilitating, embarrassing, painful, scary, depressing, lonely, all the things," she said.
Lake said she even has felt suicidal at times and that no one, not even her therapists, knew the "level of deep pain and trauma."
She said she can only assume it's the years of having her hair color processed for different roles in her career, from her starring turn as Tracy Turnblad in the 1988 film, "Hairspray" to hosting a daytime talk show for more than a decade. She also said it could be her years of dieting, genetics and more.
"From Hairspray to Hairless. :( In my case, I believe my hair loss was due to many factors, yo-yo dieting, hormonal birth control, radical weight fluctuations over the years, my pregnancies, genetics, stress, and hair dyes and extensions. Working as talent on various shows and movies, whether DWTS or my talk show, also took its toll on my fine hair," she added.
As for remedies, she says she's tried it all.
"I got used to wearing extensions, really just over the last decade. All different kinds, tried them all, the ones that are glued on, the tape-ins, the clip-ins, and then into a total hair system that I hated, and finally to a unique solution that really did work pretty well for me for the last 4 or 5 years. I tried wigs on a few occasions but never could get used to them. It all felt fake and I was super self-conscious and uncomfortable," she said. "I've been to many doctors, gotten steroid shots in my head, taking all the supplements and then some. My hair would recover and then shed again. It was maddening."
The response to her post was overwhelming, with more than 29,000 likes on Instagram and hundreds of comments from supporters and people sharing their own experiences with hair loss.