The Alopecia Chronicles: Part 1- Discovery.

Alopecia is a weird condition. Really weird. I didn’t even know what it was, really, until I got it. There are so many elements and levels to my personal experience with the disease that I have decided to break it down into a series in order to provide detailed accounts of my experience and how I dealt with it.

It all started happening the weekend of my friend Finnin’s 18th Birthday party in October 2014. The night before Scarlett had plaited half of my hair in tiny braids. The next day, after I took my braids out, quite a lot of hair came out with it. I have always had very thick hair that does tend to malt a lot so I wasn’t really that bothered.

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Georgia and I at Finnin’s party- the last photo of me before my hair started falling out

 

However, the next day when I woke up I had a little bald patch on the left side of my head, the size of a twenty pence piece. At first, my parents thought that it was just from wearing my hair too tight. But the patches grew, and grew, a little more each day, and we realised it was more than just malty hair and braids.

Sooooo… I went to a doctor and she was rubbish. The support and advice she gave me was to have a bubble bath and go for a run. She also told me I had alopecia areata, that was probably brought on by stress. In fact she was so tactless and brutal that I came home and immediately broke down in tears. The one vaguely useful piece of advice she gave me was to perhaps look into getting a wig, which did happen eventually. By this point it was October half term which was a huge relief as college was becoming an increasingly stressful environment to be in and I was losing multiple clumps of hair each day.

Here is where I should clarify; alopecia is an auto immune disease, where your body attacks itself, causing the hair on your body to fall out. Some people lose just one clump and only on a small part of their head, or may lose their leg hair. Some people only have it for a bit, and some people have it for life. I only had it for a year, but I do still worry that it will come back.

During half term, we went up to visit my Grandparents, and my Grannie had to give me a headscarf to wear as changing my parting was no longer enough to hide the patches. During our visit my mum and I ordered some wigs. Never being one to go for an understated or natural look, we ordered a waist length pink curly one and a shorter, bright red wavy one. Our thought process was that rather than having a wig that people would constantly try and work out whether it was my actual hair or not, it would be better save the hassle and get something good quality but highly unrealistic.

But that week my friend Tilly was having a cute drinks things where my whole girl group would be and most of our mums, but I was down-right refusing to go because I was so shaken up and confused about this new and incredibly scary condition. I was so ashamed of my appearance I didn’t even want my closest friends to see how bad it was getting. Desperate to get a wig in time for this occasion, my mum rang up Annabelle’s Wigs, a UK company (unlike the website we had ordered the other wigs from) enquiring about how quickly they could dispatch a wig to us. By some wonderful twist of fate the company just so happened to be based in Brighton, and the lovely owner offered to open up her warehouse so we could come and try some on. The next day we met up with her and purchased a bright blue bobbed wig with a block fringe called Iris, it was so good that when we got to Tilly’s that evening loads of the mum didn’t even realise I was wearing a wig and instead thought I had a drastic change in appearance (which wouldn’t have been out of character).

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Iris the wig

As my condition worsened and half term came to an end, my mum and I decided to go back to the doctors. We went to see my normal GP, Doctor John, who also just so happens to be my lovely friend Amy’s dad. John inspected my patches and confirmed that it was definitely alopecia areata (rather than female male pattern baldness or the side effect of any other condition). He said he was not sure how bad it would get as it is a very unpredictable disease but it was a good yet unusual sign that my patches were growing back. Rather than having a smooth, bald areas my hair was constantly falling out and growing back, which resulted in me looking like my hair had been hacked off using blunt hedge cutters.

I think that’s enough for now, it is rather difficult to write about and rather a lot to read. So I will end it there and will talk about how my alopecia developed in the next installment.

Bye for now x

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