This is an awareness post for the thoughts, fears, and emotions that people have at some point on their alopecia journey. Out of all the auto-immune dis-eases, alongside Psoriasis, it is one of the most visible because of its very clear physical symptoms. For people who are currently in a stage of new hair loss, noticing a patch, seeing new hair growth, or deciding whether to shave their entire head, there are a lot of feelings that are revealed and concealed when the hair starts to fall. This post is for you.
The Beginning of Your Alopecia Journey; When You Realize You Have it:
I won’t look good bald.
This is me every day in the shower losing one hair before I had alopecia!
If you’re losing one strand or thirty strands, this is every woman’s FIRST thought. When you realize you do have alopecia all you can think of is the end result. Guess what though, if you’re a woman you are inherently beautiful so with hair, bald or whatever you’ll still look damn good, I promise.
I betrayed my body.
Suddenly you think back to all the times you were angry, over emotional, ate gluten, or anything else that made you feel like you were disloyal to your health. You feel a deep sense of sadness, like you murdered something pure and beautiful.
My body betrayed me.
Yes your body does take care of you, but it can only go so far sometimes. Your body didn’t betray you. It is communicating with you about what you need or don’t need in order to be and live well.
My hair is my thing.
Women love their hair, men love their hair, and men love women’s hair. Your hair may have been your thing, but when the hair starts to fall you realize YOU are your thing. The hair was just a decoration:)
I won’t be beautiful.
Impossible. But yes we all think this. My alopecia came after 30, so I thought yep, my youth and beauty are gone forever. Turns out after 30 you get better. I’m on actually on fire…outside and inside! Working on just being figuratively on fire currently. Read about your body’s internal inflammation here.
I won’t be loved.
All those thoughts and emotions lead up to one major fear, that you won’t be loved. But, that’s every person not just because of lost hair folks. PS- Hair doesn’t bring you love, you ARE love.
I’ll buy pretty scarves.
Bonus. Who doesn’t want to wear cute scarf wraps!? I was actually relatively excited about this:)
When You Notice During Your Alopecia Journey that Your Hairless Patches are Getting Bigger:
Will I have to wear a wig?
For me, I knew this was going to be a no go. I can barely wear hats. My head starts to sweat (maybe because of my hair hmm..) and I don’t like itchy things. Probably why those scarves didn’t happen a ton.
I won’t look good bald.
Firstly if your patches are getting bigger it could be dependent on where you are in your hair’s NATURAL stage of hair growth. But yes, I have thought this as well.
I’ll get to buy really fancy makeup and not feel bad because I’ll need it to contour:)
Another bonus. Spending all that money at Sephora would suddenly become a necessity!
I don’t want to go to work like this.
This is disrupting my entire life. How can you look normal with patches? Well, I’m a damn professional and patches or not I’m still as competent as they come. I also knew I would become a walking billboard for healthcare, self-care, and stress. I was okay with that responsibility and here I am with this blog…
What’s the weather like today?
It’s a windy day today…Faaaaccckkk. Is it going to rain? Am I going look like a wet trash rat with missing hair patches?
In the beginning, I employed “patch watchers”, those trusted friends, and family to let me know when my bald patch was trying to make an appearance. After I while I really didn’t care but in the beginning, we were all on alert!
When You’ve Lived With Alopecia for a Little While:
I’m carrying a huge secret.
These patches are the secret I’ve been keeping from the outside world. Who I am, my beliefs, my dreams, my hopes, my wishes, my failures, my stresses, my pain, what happened to me are all hiding under my normal hair, concealing the patches. Concealing your patches is not dishonest, it just means you’re not into “fans” asking what happened to your hair. Life sucka, life happened!
I don’t want to explain how it happened.
Unless you are me who will talk about the dangers of chronic stress and emotional trauma, you may not always want to explain how you came to notice your alopecia. You also don’t have to unless you want to. Alopecia has taught you many things, and establishing boundaries is one of them.
I’m one of the lucky ones.
I only have one patch and I can hide it. There are no lucky or unlucky ones with alopecia really- just your own specific journey. You learn quickly on alopecia that the physical means less than you thought it does. You start to see the temporary aspect of all things and you are just a part of it, but it is not a part of you.
I’ll never be the same.
You don’t need to be- you’re wider, more open, and made of fire now! How funny it is that our challenges reveal the most beautiful parts of us!
Eh, I don’t even care anymore. My hair will grow back when it’s ready.
After a while I just let it be. I thought you know what, you figure it out body, you’re smarter than me anyway right? Cut to:
My hair is never coming back…. I think I’m actually okay with that.
That’s it, it’s gone forever! If it is that’s probably okay:) I’m still planning on having a great life. If I lost a limb I would still make sure I’m living a fabulous life so who cares if a little (or all) hair jumps ship?!
I’m strong as hell!
If you can do the elimination diet for upwards of 6 months, you realize how powerful your mind and body are! If you aren’t there yet- you will be. Healing your body OR letting it be are the strongest things you can do.
Things To Remember on Your Alopecia Journey:
Yes, your hair is still beautiful, even if you have a patch hiding under there.
You guys! Of course, our hair is still beautiful, hidden patches and all. Your beauty isn’t dependent on your hair, your clothes, your makeup- it really is inside! Your mom was right!
You don’t need to explain anything to anyone.
You may have a visible symptom, but a large number of people feel like crap inside today. (Obviously, we need a societal change)
You do/would look good bald.
You’re a woman and women are beautiful no matter what, everyone knows it, we just forget it for ourselves.
No matter where you are in your alopecia journey, just know there is another 2% of the population going through it. Approximately 6.8 million people in the United States and 147 million worldwide have or will develop alopecia areata at some point in their lives. For more info on the emotional journey check out NAAF’s emotional wellness article about how to limit or manage depression.
*Stats from the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.
If it helps to join a community do it! If it helps to find an alopecia buddy- someone who you can confide in, do that! You are not alone. If right now you are overwhelmed it’s okay to let your body rest and come back to healing at a later date. However you need to feel peace within your self, let that be the start of this journey.
To read more about my alopecia journey and how I induced my own click here.