I was almost 21 and plans were underway for big celebrations. I was a party animal and my 21st was going to be the talk of the town. At that time I was extremely busy at work and my social life was buzzing. I was going to bed at crazy hours and I had to drag myself out of bed for work.
It was then that I started noticing clumps of hair on my pillow in the morning. Then came a small bald patch. OK! so too much booze, too many pizzas and late nights RIGHT???
Thus started my journey of confusion and fear whilst I watched my beloved, long thick chestnut coloured hair fall out. It took about 6 months of denial and avoidance of Dr's until I was finally diagnosed with alopecia universalis.
"Subconsciously, I think I was putting off the dermatologist appointment to avoid what I knew I was going to be told: I have alopecia universalis and there isn't anything we know about it or anything we can do about it. Coming to terms with the fact that my long, brown hair would most likely never come back was and is hard. It's something that hits me every now and again.
However, officially getting a diagnosis was ultimately grounding. Shortly after this initial reaction, I was able to find an acceptance of myself deeper than my surface level smile and attitude about the process. There is something beautiful about recognizing the person I was meant to be, and the insignificance of things that people give so much significance to.
When I was coming to terms with my alopecia, the resources I found were directed toward women seeking to be beautiful with hair loss through a wig. I declined treatment with strong immune suppressant drugs. I focussed on inner healing.
The next thing I did was shaved my head. It was liberating! The process of losing hair was emotionally draining. I stopped covering up the bald spots and embraced my condition and it felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders (literally and figuratively). I have had many strangers come up to me thanking me for my strength to boldly be bald when they could not. Again, there is no right way—as long as the way you go is because you have chosen that way. My advice is.....Do what YOU want to.
I started to learn about the connection between autoimmune health and lifestyle. I have completely transformed my eating habits, nutrition, exercise routine in ways I never would have done before this. I got interested in mindfulness and meditation. HAHA me of all people!
I have gained so much strength I never would have had without this challenge. In fact, people think I am sick when I am actually the healthiest both mentally and physically than I have ever been.
Having no hair makes me feel cold much easier. I have a big selection of hats and beanies that I wear indoors and out. Losing my nose/ear hair, eyebrows and eyelashes is another challenge. I will not leave the house without a wad of tissues and I wear sunglasses in the winter to protect my eyelashless eyes.
I have allowed myself to go through the grieving process and even though I am on the other side of the sadness and grief there will still be moments when I want to cry. Nowadays, I am back to partying and enjoying life. Wigs have become a fashion item and even celebrities are wearing them. So, there is less stigma around wearing one. There are some gorgeous wigs out there and am building up a collection. My favourite wig is the HATFALL wig. The one that I wear with a beanie hat. In my opinion, it is the most natural one because only the back of the wig shows.
I feel that there should be more awareness and education of alopecia and it's symptoms. I want to reduce the stigma around this condition. People with alopecia must stand together, be strong and show the world that happiness, beauty and having a good life is not dependent on your hair.