I’ve contemplated on how I would write this and if I would write this at all, but one of my goals for this blog is to create awareness about alopecia. A lot people don’t know what Alopecia is and often think it isn’t not a big deal ( yea when it’s not happening to you). Alopecia is basically a medical term for hair loss. It is an auto immune disease/ disorder that occurs when white blood cells attack hair follicles. I happen to have the most advanced form which is alopecia Universalis— hair loss of the entire body which includes the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes or hair on the body at all.
My journey begins at 16. My sister found a bald spot about the size of a quarter at the back of my head. It was the summer before 11th grade. Honestly, I have never really took care of my hair at this stage of my life. I was at that point trying to transition to my natural hair–this is when the movement was at the beginning stages. Anyway, I didn’t think much of the bald spot, I colored and relaxed my hair and covered it the best way I knew how. I managed to keep it from most people back in high school and I started seeing a doctor I believe just before my freshman year of college. She would give me cortisone shots in my head and eyebrows. I looked into natural herbal treatments which worked—I mean I waxed my eyebrows for the first time in a few years around this time.Everything finally fell out when I turned 20. Needless to say, college was rough, I was depressed and my self esteem plummeted. Over the years I’ve tried creams, oils, trying to eat the right diet ( and failed lol) and a plethora of things. I didn’t (and still don’t) understand how and why this happened to me…I’ve been told it was stress, a spiritual attack… blah blah blah.
Pain through the Journey
I got stares, people joked about it, laughed about it. Family members told me “not to think about it and try to focus on other things”. I’ve heard “Well it’t not cancer, other people have it worse, you are still healthy”. Yes, I guess having your hair fall out for no reason at the young age of 16 means you are perfectly fine.People were and still are extremely insensitive about my struggle with alopecia, which is the reason I tend to keep it to myself. Hair loss or any illness for that matter is never ever funny. It was SO hard dealing with alopecia as a teenager and even now it’s still so hard especially in the summer time. People didn’t get the struggle I went through back then and STILL don’t understand it now, which made me isolate myself. I felt like (and sometimes I still do ) it was easier to isolate than to explain myself over and over. NO, it’s not just as easy as wearing a wig, or putting on make up and wearing big earrings. I would forgo social outings because I didn’t want my wig to fall off or I didn’t want to wear a wig at all. I just became so self conscious. I would go to events and just disappear from the crowd, and separate myself —I’m sure my friends thought I was weird. What I went through mentally and emotionally, most people would never understand. I suppressed a lot of emotions because I had no one who wanted to understand what I was dealing with.
This journey has affected my health in many aspects including mentally and emotionally. It also affected my faith. I wondered where God was through this. I came to the faith when I was 20, and even then I had no hair, my body hair was just beginning to come out as well. I would pray and believe that my hair would be restored, I went to a few conferences, I had other people praying, pastors etc. Nothing. Was I shaking my fists as God? Yes. Am I still shaking them at him now? No. I eventually came to the conclusion that even if God doesn’t give us what we want–a spouse, children, a great career or healing, He is STILL good, no matter what.
Learning through the journey
Through this journey, I’ve made mistakes and sought validation from men because I didn’t think I was feminine/womanly enough. I realize that it is important to seek a therapist, prayer and have a strong support system who can see you through in times like this. I never really had that apart from my mom and maybe a friend or two. I also had to understand that people didn’t owe me sympathy and I didn’t owe them an explanation.I don’t know what kept me going when I look back through the years. Some days are so so tough. The type of days where I would ask why me? Through the tears and pain, I had no other choice but to stand firm.