Ricki Lake shared with her fans on Wednesday that she's been suffering from hair loss for nearly 30 years.
The former "Dancing With the Stars" contestant and talk show host revealed in a social media post that the condition has been "debilitating, embarrassing, painful, scary, depressing, [and] lonely," though she never discussed it openly.
Not even her therapist understood "the level of deep pain and trauma" she experienced, she added.
"There have been a few times where I have even felt suicidal over it," she wrote on Instagram. "I know that by sharing my truth, I will be striking a chord with so so many women and men. I am not alone in this and my goal is to help others while at the same time unshackle myself from this quiet hell I have been living in."
Lake, who took third place in the 13th season of "Dancing With the Stars," explained that when she starred in "Hairspray" in 1988, her hair was damaged to the point of no return. The 51-year-old added that she also blames her career as a public figure, diet and weight fluctuation, and genetics, among other factors, for the hair loss.
"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," she wrote. "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."
According to the Mayo Clinic, hair loss can affect any part of one's body and is often attributed to stress, various hairstyles or treatments, hormonal changes, medical conditions or medications or a predisposition to the condition. Although more common in men, anybody can experience hair loss.
Recently, Lake said that she lost 20 lbs. in six weeks, causing her hair to start falling out again -- "big time." Due to that and an excessive hair-maintenance schedule -- she couldn't travel for more than 12 days at a time because of the upkeep -- she decided to shave it all off.
"I am liberated. I am free. I am releasing and letting go," she concluded. "I am brave. I am beautiful. I am love."