I developed Alopecia during my second year of high school, and I was 15 years old. The process of losing my hair was a rather quick one. I found my first bald spot over Christmas, and when I returned to school a couple of weeks later, I hardly had any hair left, maybe 40%. I decided in mid January to shave the rest off, and by the beginning of March my eyelashes and eyebrows followed. I was heartbroken!
It was a horrible experience to be a young girl, who relies heavily on physical appearance, and losing my hair. However, it had a great impact on my life as it took away the mask of appearance (literally) and forced me to figure out who I was at a very young age. I am much more confident in who I am now as a result of developing Alopecia. I focus less on my appearance and more on the effect I can make on others in my daily life. That is my biggest advice for coping: helping others.
From the beginning of my journey, others told me that I was strong for going through this, but I didn't actually have a choice. The choice occurred when I stepped outside the door with a bald head and was able to proclaim to others that appearance is not as important as everyone thinks. Just by showing the world my head I am able to help others who may be hiding their true selves, and creating an Instagram account where I speak openly about my condition enables me to help others in a tangible way.
Others with Alopecia contact me and I am able to talk with them and we share our stories. Alopecia has taught me how truly valuable it is to have a community of like-minded individuals, even if you feel okay being on your own. However, in this difficult transition you may feel like helping others is the last thing on your mind and you just want to help yourself, which is completely valid! I encourage others to surround themselves with others who love them and although it is tempting to hide away, push yourself outside of your comfort zone on a daily basis, even if just with a small act. You will thank yourself later.
Author credit: Olivia Wyles