I have never been blessed with a nice, thick head of hair. I’ve tried dozens of styles to make it appear thicker. From shorter styles to choppy layers, one thing I never expected was that at 16, I would start to find my hair falling out fast. Was I sick? What was wrong with me? I had alopecia areata.
Continue reading for my hair story…
So what is alopecia areata?
It’s basically a form of hair loss, a disease where your immune system mistakenly thinks your hair follicles are an enemy, fighting them off and causing your hair to fall out. I feel lucky to not have alopecia totalis, where it falls out altogether. The difference between the two is that my hair only falls out in patches, as opposed to all over my head. I won’t lie; they’re only supposed to be the size of a coin, but at its worst, they’ve amounted to about a third of my head.
Why does it happen?
If I go back to my 16-year old self, I can 100% put it down to stress. GCSE’s were tough, then juggling AS-Levels, a part-time job and a boyfriend all got on top of me. (Anxiety made its debut in my life too as a nice little warning!) What made the alopecia worse was that I discovered weaves and clip-in hair extensions and had been wearing them continuously for about a year before the patches started to appear. I experimented with colours, bleach bathed it… putting my hair under so much strain. I’m surprised there was anything left!
Fast forward 14 years and I’m still in the same boat. That being said, I’ve learnt to deal with it. I’ve tried my hardest to not colour it as much, embrace my natural (albeit thin and fine) hair and only wear hair extensions on special occasions!
If you’re thinking, why bother wearing hair extensions at all if they make your hair loss worse? The reason is, thick hair gives me confidence. As I mentioned, it’s something I’ve never had, and without it, I always feel just that little bit unfinished.
Wearing my hair up in public used to be a nightmare. Especially when it was coloured darker, the contrast would make my scalp more prominent. Now I’ve built up enough confidence that I don’t mind wearing it up; if someone notices and stares, I don’t care. It’s who I am and I’m confident it will grow back. It’s a very happy feeling when the little tufts of hair start coming through.
Throughout those 14 years, I’ve met people who’ve been in the same boat. To the alopecia totalis sufferers, I salute you, because you are who inspired me to embrace it, and not let it get me down.
To anyone reading this who may be suffering with hair loss in general, as cheesy as it sounds, I’ll share what I tell myself when my hair falls out;
With or without it, your hair doesn’t change who you are as a person.
Wear a wig, shave your head (I have contemplated it 100s of times), who cares; it’s only hair!
I hope that sharing my story with alopecia helps whoever is suffering too. For me, knowing I wasn’t alone made me feel less like an alien!