The former talk show host admits she's at times felt suicidal over losing her hair.
Ricki Lake is speaking her truth after "suffering mostly in silence off and on for almost 30 years."
On New Year's Day, the 51-year-old former talk show host took to Instagram to share photos of her newly shaved head and to explain her decision to make such a big change to her appearance.
"Liberated and Free, Me," she began her lengthy caption. "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."
Lake went on to explain how she's battled hair loss "for most of my adult life."
"It has been debilitating, embarrassing, painful, scary, depressing, lonely, all the things," she shared. "There have been a few times where I have even felt suicidal over it. 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."
Lake hopes that speaking out about her struggle will inspire others to face their insecurities with hair loss. "I know that by sharing my truth, I will be striking a chord with so so many women and men," her message continued. "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."
As for how she came to start losing her hair, Lake traces it back to when she starred in Hairspray. "Ever since I played Tracy Turnblad in the original Hairspray back in 1988 and they triple-processed and teased my then healthy virgin hair every two weeks during filming, my hair was never the same. (Yes, that was all my own hair in the film.) From Hairspray to Hairless," she wrote. "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 [Dancing With the Stars] or my talk show, also took its toll on my fine hair."
Lake said she just got "used to wearing extensions" over the past 10 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 explained. "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."
Just hours after posting pics of her shaved look, Lake was bombarded with encouragement from her Instagram followers. "You’re so courageous and you look wonderful!!!" one comment read.
"We all love u so much!!!❤️ Thank you for being so vulnerable with us always since day 1 ❤️," read another message.
Lake has made it her mission to be vulnerable with her fans. Last February, she spoke with ET about what it was like finding love again two years after the death of her husband.
Check out the incredibly candid interview: