A Stylist Gives a Depressed Woman Hope via Hair

There are few things we love more than witnessing a great makeover— but not for the reasons you might think. While we appreciate a great aesthetic transformation as much as the next person, what we really love is how all of these different stylistic updates reflect a deeper change within the woman or man being made over.

A good makeover means a new opportunity or a fresh start as well as a new look, and we can’t think of a better example than a recent story making inspiring waves over on the Love What Matters Facebook page. In her post, Kate Langman, a stylist at Ulta Beauty’s The Salon, shares the incredible story of an encounter with a particularly challenging customer: a depressed woman.

Though there is still a great deal of stigma around depression, as well as mental health disorders in general, the condition is far more common than many people would guess. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), a 2015 study revealed that approximately 16.1 million adults in the United States experienced “at least one major depressive episode in the past year”— that’s 6.7 percent of the U.S. adult population! Worldwide, an estimated 300 million people might be affected, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

So chances are high that we all have met a depressed individual at some point in our lives – or been depressed ourselves – whether or not we realized it at the time. And it’s not such a rare occasion that one would walk into a beauty shop like Ulta, like this woman did to Kate Langman’s. Kate’s response, however, is what makes this story truly special.

Kate explains her initial encounter with the woman in her post:

About a month ago, I saw this woman pulling every product off the “All Soft” Redken line. When I asked her if she needed any help, she began to tell me her story. A very long story short, this women suffered with a very deep depression. She couldn’t get out of her bed for 6 months. Which meant she didn’t wash her hair or brush it. She kept pulling it back into this bun which after that long of time turned into a huge dread lock. The bun was so matted that it felt like she literally had rocks on the back of her head. This is when I mentioned to just put all the product back on the shelf. We made an appointment for the following day and she didn’t show up.

Sad as it is, the state of the woman’s hair isn’t that surprising, nor is it shocking that she didn’t show up for her appointment. NIMH lists “loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities,” “decreased energy or fatigue,” and “oversleeping” as symptoms of major depressive disorders, and it is very common for depressed individuals to have extreme difficulties practicing self-care and hygiene.

Though it can be hard to believe or comprehend in the middle of an episode, what depressed individuals need to know is that they’re not alone, and that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Thankfully for this woman in particular, both of those needs were met simultaneously when she was able to work up the energy and courage to return to Kate and the salon a few weeks later.

Although the woman walked in without an appointment, Kate was thrilled to see her again, explaining, “I didn’t care how late I stayed, I wanted to make sure she got taken care of.” And take care of her Kate did— for 8½ hours.

Yes, Kate spent 8½ hours doing this stranger’s hair: ½ an hour to cut it, 3 for color, and 4½ just to comb it all out. That’s an amount of work that went above and beyond a mere call of duty. Why did the stylist do it? Kate explains:

By the end of this service, I could see the sparkle in her eyes and I could see her cheeks get rosy pink from the excitement of not only being able to run her fingers through her hair again, but she felt herself again. I changed someone’s life today and I’ll never ever forget it.

Being a respectful stylist, Kate doesn’t share any identifying details or any images of the woman’s face, but she did share the “after” photo of the back of the woman’s head:

Beautiful— and we don’t just mean the hair. What Kate did is the kind of kindness we need more of in this world, don’t you think?

To read more of the story, and to hear Kate’s sweet message for the mystery woman, be sure to check out her original post on the Love What Matters page. Then share with us: have you ever reached out to a stranger to help in a way like Kate’s? Has anybody ever helped you like this? What acts of kindness can you practice today?

If you or somebody you know is experiencing depression or depressive symptoms, know that you are not alone and that there is help available. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is open 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255, and an online chat is available on their website.

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