Ricki Lake shared photos of her newly shaved head via Instagram on Wednesday and opened up about how she's "been struggling with hair loss for most of my adult life."
"Liberated and Free, Me," she captioned the photo, taken by Amanda Demme. "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."
The 51-year-old TV star then expressed how her struggle with hair loss "has been debilitating, embarrassing, painful, scary, depressing [and] lonely."
"There have been a few times where I have even felt suicidal over it," she continued. "Almost no one in my life knew the level of deep pain and trauma I was experiencing. Not even my therapist/s over the years knew my truth. 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."
Looking back at her days as Tracy Turnblad in the 1988 film Hairspray, Lake claimed "they triple-processed and teased my then healthy virgin hair every two weeks during filming" and that her hair was "never the same."
"From Hairspray to Hairless," she wrote along with a sad face symbol. "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."
For years, Lake "got used to wearing extensions."
"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," she recalled. "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 then explained she'd "been to many doctors, gotten steroids shot in my head [and taken] all the supplements and then some."
"My hair would recover and then shed again," she continued. "It was maddening."
After working in London and experiencing her "last extreme diet" in which she lost 20 pounds in six weeks, Lake noticed her hair was "shedding again, big time." She decided that enough was enough and that she'd "have to be set free."
"Free of the maintenance every 10-12 days, where my added hair would need to be tightened (sometimes painfully) and my gray hair would need to be colored," she continued in a Facebook post. "I felt like I was a slave to this maintenance schedule. I wouldn't go out of town longer than 12 days, because of this. I even brought my hair fairy and dear friend, to London during my stint there to do what she needed to do to keep it on my head. Well, it is a new year and new decade and a new me."
She then explained she buzzed her hair off and that "it feels so good."
"I am liberated. I am free. I am releasing and letting go," she continued. "I am brave. I am beautiful I am love. For 2020 and beyond, I want to be real. (I will on occasion choose to wear hair, but now it is for fun, not because I am hiding anything. I am so done with hiding.) Happy New Year and decade to all!"
After Lake shared her message, several celebrities applauded her on her posts.
"Love you so much," Andy Cohen wrote in the comments section. "Beautiful inside and out!"
"Love u so," Rosie O'Donnell added, later writing, "beautiful u."