alopecia

Losing (and regaining) my facial hair during 2012

Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin was a rhyme repeated during the “Billy Goat’s Gruff” fairytale and one that actually applied to the state of my facial hair during 2012.

My Alopecia started on my chin in November 2011 – two tiny little dots which I thought were just that – wee dots where hair didn’t grow. Until they started to spread. Obviously like any other person who cared about their looks I was worried – in fact I was majorly freaked out if truth be told. Bordering on daily obsession!

As The ‘wee dots’ graduated into ‘big dots’ I tried to remain calm  – while simultaneously obsessively checking the reaction of people I bumped into and whether they thought I had some human form of mange!

“You can hardly notice” was the familiar war-cry from my pals – god bless them I thought and smiled, “you lying bastards” were the words dancing in my head behind my grin.

Here is an image of my chin taken in March 2012, when the wee spots got bigger – excuse the up nose shot!

Reece with alopecia barbae, missing patches of his beard

Losing hair of the chinny chin chin

As you can see I naturally have very dark hair and if I didn’t shave everyday then it was more obvious (as I later discovered when shaving my head). I chose to shave everyday to make it less obvious and stop me from getting as paranoid.

I never really sported facial hair anyway, but as soon as the choice to have a goatee or a full on beard were taken away  – I started looking at passing bearded guys with seething jealousy!  “Why you” I thought. And what a waste of facial hair some of them were. “If I was rocking a beard right now it would be much better than his”. For the time being I persevered and shaved daily.

I waited for it to get worse and it did – further spots appeared and started to bleed into each other, by June I was getting used to the weekly expanse of smooth skin appearing on my face. I still cared if a passing person made comment or a work colleague had a vacant, lingering stare.

It was also the first thing I told new people “Are you looking at my beard? Ah its a form of alopecia I think” I managed to mumble out in my strange yet sad paranoia. I must have been a joy to meet, I think most people assumed I was on the bus to Crazytown! It was what it was. But it was getting worse…

Updated loss of facial hair in June

starting to save on shaving gel..

The image above was taken in June 2012 and you can see from the dark rings under my eyes that I wasn’t sleeping and it was getting to me. It had become my obsession – I was rather like a patchy-chinned Gollum. Craving regrowth, an answer or a cure as he craved the mysterious ring. None of the things I craved came. As soon as I accepted it was going to continue, I started to realise I had to live with this the best way I could.

How I began to cope and cheer up!!

  • The best way I thought I could live with this – after all the tears and upset and obsessing was simply to let go. Let go of the stress, paranoia and endless discussion of my hair loss.
  • I tried anti-depressants – which really helped at that time. Not advising anyone else should follow this route, but speak to a doctor and see what they say.
  • At this time I also got referred to a dermatologist who simply said – “It may come back, it may not, all your hair may fall out – be prepared”. Words I thought harsh at the time but am glad I got a dose of tough love.

Once with a mixture of the above and the ongoing constant support from my partner (amazing and understanding), family and friends (ditto) – I started to get used to it and when the thoughts (less regular now) entered my head – I gave an imaginary 2 fingered salute to them! A huge F*ck You to the pain that had been a constant thorn in my side for the first 6 months of 2012.

By July it had got worse but I started to laugh at it – The wee section left of my moustache now resembled Hitler‘s to top everything else off! Instead of crying, worrying or hiding – I embraced that stupid little stretch of ‘tache and laughed at myself when I saw it. Take a gander for yourself..

July 2012

July 2012

On the plus side a wee thin sliver of beard under my bottom lip looked pretty cool and I let this one grow for a few days. Taking control back! Of sorts.

In July I noticed the first patch on my head and this lead me to eventually shaving my head (in September) and watching as that took the same course as my beard. I have posted my story and images of that parallel journey separate to this. Suffice to say I saw the head hair loss coming and dealt with it better as I had been through the gamut of emotions with this now ever decreasing beard o’ mine.

February 2013  beard update

As of right now (21 Feb) All I have left is the strip of hair directly under my bottom lip (Kind of cool) and a few hairs on each cheek (not so cool).

BUT when on holiday in Egypt in September 2012 I did notice some regrowth. Blonde, white thick hairs which are still growing and being shaved off. They have appeared on the place where I first lost hair. I see this as a good sign but nearly 6 months later and the ‘regrowth’ only remains in that area, and blonde.

Alopecia eh? What an unpredictable ba5tard it is!

Regrowth of hair

September 2012 in Egypt – wee white hairs – regrowth?

One year on – one year to go??

I have convinced myself after frantic searching and googling, worrying and reassuring – that my Alopecia is going to last 2 years. I have read this and heard (someone who knew someone who knew someone) and their’s “only lasted 2 years” –  give or take…. Even Miles Boyer the photographer only had full blown Alopecia for roughy two years.

I know Alopecia can be a cruel mistress and am unsure why I am transfixed with 2 years (I had convinced myself it would clear up after 3 months when i started visiting a trichologist over a year and a half ago). But I have realised that it doesn’t matter if it doesnt come back in two years – as for now, right now – that is what is helping healing me. Stopping me going crazy, breaking down or getting frantic. I have told myself it will last circa 2 years. And it better f*cking had!

Again I am joking – to myself. F*ck knows if it will have healed by then – but if there is anything I have learnt from this ongoing experience – its that you have to stay positive as negativity only makes you feel worse and isn’t it always better to look on the bright side?