Thank you all so much, I can't tell you how much your personalized advice means to me. I guess that explains why couldn't find anyone to relate to online, cause this specific matter is quite baffling.
One thing I did notice is that each strand seems to be thinner/weak than my original/healthy strands used to be. So I figured not going to the salon to get it trimmed made for a "breeding ground" of split ends that my long hair was now born from.
But I'm going to try each and everyone's advice -- I'm a bit more hopeful with new experiments.