Regrowth, regrowth, regrowth

Yes you read it right from my triple title above – my hair is back – thicker and fuller that it’s been in ages. In my last post, I was heading in a downward spiral – in terms of mood and also hair loss – the dreaded patches were emerging again. Well  – they’ve all gone from my head and I finally have 100% regrowth. I don’t have to avoid triple mirrors in dressing rooms anymore!

dressing room

Here’s how I maybe managed it

I’d love to say ‘it just happened’ and grew back like last time – but it never. The truth is I don’t know what’s helped the most as I’ve tried to make so many different positive steps.

I made a conscious effort not to head down the same sad, obsessive path I was on way back when this all started. Instead I took affirmative action. I may have started too many things  – which is an issue as now I don’t know which (if any) are helping – so I’m carrying on with all of them – as long as my bank balance will allow.

Here’s a list of things I think may have contributed to the regrowth – in no particular order:

1. Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN)

I am still taking the LDN every night – 4.5 mg. I have never really had side effects  – I talked about starting to use it here. This costs me £30 ish for every prescription.

2. A mystery potion from the Middle East

When I was in Australia in December 2016, I met someone who told me their regrowth was helped by using a lotion they bought over the internet from a Middle Eastern country. Immediately my thoughts turned to snake oil salesman and the charlatans that I was very critical of in an earlier post which focused on the treatments I’d tried.

Nevertheless I agreed to purchase said lotion – which is pretty expensive. The cost of the treatment is also the reason I’m not name-checking or linking to it here as I feel it’s not ethical to do so. I don’t really know if it honestly works and I don’t want anyone to get in debt because of me, then be upset if it doesn’t work.

If you really want to know the details please message me privately. Though I am in no way endorsing or supporting this product. It is one of the many things I have been doing.

You can private message me via the social media pages that I have created for this blog:

Even if you don’t want to message me – you might like to follow the social media pages anyway 🙂

I paid £400 for a three month supply of this lotion which I was instructed to rub into my scalp every night and wash off the next day. I honestly don’t know if it’s this that’s helping but I’m still rubbing it in every night like a drone anyway.

I have been doing this for around 3 months.

3. Yoga & relaxation

I have tried to make time for yoga as it allows me time to relax and get in tune with my body and mind at the same time. I’ve been practising Forrest Yoga with an amazing tutor in Edinburgh for a while now and it really helps me feel better at the end of a sweaty session!

15253635_10155560724244778_834846904936723561_n

Striking a yoga pose on my 39th birthday in Singapore – December 2016

It’s also really handy as it’s near my work. If any of you ever get the chance – swing by Leith Yoga studio for a class with Janet.

4. Therapy

I think as a result of the years of stressing about being stressed, worrying about hair loss and analysing my thoughts – I’m finally pretty in-tune with myself and tend to realise when my body and mind are stressed, manic and winding out of control.

I can usually feel tenseness in my body or hear the internal chatter building to a crescendo and either loosen up or quieten down to try and combat the feelings that used to spin me out of control.

To help with this – earlier in the year I started talking therapy. I have done this once previously  – 6 sessions recommended by my doctor when my hair first started falling out. This time it’s different – I’m paying for this therapist and can talk about whatever I like.

It’s rare that we get a chance to openly talk about our lives and what has contributed to make us the people we are. From family to work and relationships – everything has an effect and impact on your current view of the world and yourself. I have found it really helpful to be able to discuss all of the above with my therapist. I am going to keep going in the future – but not as regular.

5. Vitamins

I’ve been gobbling a handful of pills every morning on top of the LDN. As I mentioned a few posts ago – the concotion I’m self-medicating with includes the following capsules:

  • Vitamin D
  • Turmeric
  • Vitamin C
  • Acidophilus
hair tonic with phytofol

Hair Tonic

I’m still taking the Chinese medicine – in the form of a capsule with Phytofol -this herb is used to nourish the liver and replenish Kidney energy (Jing) to promote healthy hair follicle function.

So what’s next?

I’m too scared to stop using anything right now. I think I’ll wait until my ‘big birthday’ is over in December and wean myself off the LDN and mystery lotion. Am going to keep up the yoga, therapy and vitamins as they are fairly low cost compared to the other two.

I’m currently really happy – loving life and quite chilled out. As I’ve always said in this blog – I think my happiness and contentment is contributing towards my regrowth more than anything I’ve listed above – however:

  • my mood may not have been so happy had I not had regrowth
  • regrowth might not have happened had I not proactively taken all the steps above

I haven’t a clue what’s working but I stand by every decision I’ve made as at least I’m doing something and I’m so glad I don’t feel the need to obsess about falling hair at the moment.

I move house in September so we shall see if I can maintain this low stress lifestyle.

I’ll keep you posted.

Reece.

A zombie face with half the mouth missing

Symptomatic/Psychopathic. Zombie features.

What happens to you when you feel a bout of something coming on? What’s your tell? The reason you start to panic or brace yourself for the ensuing episode? Mine is the start of my zombie features – a period where I swing between bouts of obsessing over my dry skin and general mania.

The reason I’m asking is because I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately (surprise surprise).

It goes like this – I see a wee red patch of dry skin on my right hand (kind of like stigmata! There is nothing holy about my reaction). Once I notice the patch, a sense of dread courses through my body as I fight my way to the mirror to examine my scalp  – looking for signs of inflammation or crustiness. I am generally not happy until I find something, anything – YES. I am turning into a zombie  – I knew it.

I Zombie?

A zombie face with half the mouth missing

This – is how I imagine I look when fully symptomatic

The reason I relate my ‘symptomatic’ state to that of a zombie is because they both share similar physical features – such as:

  • Falling hair
  • Bleeding gums
  • Bad breath
  • White coating on the tongue
  • Dark circles under eyes
  • Red, chapped flaky skin

I know all of the above can also be signs of other stuff – an allergic reaction, an intolerance to dairy, wheat or countless other things or simply some sort of infection. I have thought and thought (and thought again) about all of these things – usually on a loop once I notice that bastard patch of skin appear on my right hand.

Mania

The internal reaction to my physical appearance becoming zombie like is usually mild to manic panic. Constant worry and questioning about WHY this is happening, WHAT is causing it and HOW can I stop it?

My obsession with spots are a recurring theme – maybe they are indeed the problem and I have brought all of this on myself. The constant questions my brain asks along these lines are also a clue that I am experiencing ‘an episode’, ‘being symptomatic’ or just having a generally shit time of it.

I find it hard to concentrate at work or in conversation – probably because my brain is busy asking the same stupid effing questions over and over.  I also find it hard to make decisions – what to wear, what to eat  – total brain fog.

How does noticing this help?

I’m unsure which came first and now which feeds what, but as soon as I see that little red patch or start to feel the other symptoms, feelings or manic thoughts – I try and remember it’s just thoughts, red patches or an inability to make a decision. I don’t let one add to the other and make me feel worse.

I think naming something, realising what’s happening and being prepared is useful – eventually. It takes time but every time one of these smaller things happens – I call it out for what it is – just something that’s happening which isn’t the end of the world.

As I now know what’s coming – just my feelings, just a patch of skin & just my own thoughts – they have less power over me and are gradually becoming easier to manage.

It’s happening again

Well my hair is officially coming out again – after months of denial – I popped into H&M today and unfortunately caught the three way view of the back, front and side of my head.

It’s looking holey, threadbare and generally a bit shit. Here are some photos taken this week:

Bald patch at the front - January 2017

Patch at the front – January 2017

image2

Back of the head January 2017

The back of my head January 2017

Back of the heed January 2017

 

I’ve still got a way to go before it gets as bad as it did the first time but a small part of my brain can’t stop worrying that THIS is going to happen again:

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My hair when I first shaved it off back in 2012 – look those eyebrows! Strong eyebrow game.

Partial loss all over

2012 – Patchy McPatcherson

Where else am I shedding?

My chest has a few patches  – though there is a lot of white hair growing back in each patch.

Is there any regrowth?

I think so -there are the white hairs mentioned above and  my moustache seems to be filling out – but I’ve thought that for a while now. I don’t actually  know. I will need to compare old and new pics and look a little closer.

Trying to keep my shit together

Being a natural pessimist and a bit of a worrier – my inner voice keeps repeating  the following type of statements on a nasty, insidious loop:

  • It’s all coming out AGAIN

  • It’s going to happen the same as last time

  • I’m going to have to wear hats all the time again

  • I wonder if it’s because I’m stressed

  • Why am I so stressed? If I wasn’t so stressed my hair might grow back

It’s pretty annoying to say the least but I am trying to be mindful and relax. I know from past experience that worrying, freaking out and being sad does NOTHING to improve mood, regrow hair or make you a nice person to be around.

It’s hard to maintain a chipper outlook when you wake up and your pillow looks like a barbershop floor or you’re stood in front of a stranger and wondering if they’re staring at your hair.

What am I doing differently?

I’m not taking any anti depressants or smoking cigarettes anymore. Though that annoying inner voice keeps reminding me – Your hair came back when you started smoking again last time.

I’m taking a drug as explained in my last post – called Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN). I have been taking it since 5 November 2016 and so far – NOTHING. I am paying for a private prescription and my hair seems to be getting worse. Apparently it takes a while to kick in. I’m giving it 6 months and then knocking it on the head – pun intended.

I’ve started wolfing down vitamins like they’re haribo – I’m currently taking:

  • Vitamin D
  • Turmeric
  • Vitamin C
  • Acidophilus

I am also taking Chinese medicine – in the form of a capsule with Phytofol – this herb is used to nourish the liver and replenish Kidney energy (Jing) to promote healthy hair follicle function.

hair tonic with phytofol

Hair Tonic

This Chinese medicine was given to me as a present on my recent holiday to Australia. I met up with a fellow AA sufferer – Johannes, who has been following my blog for a few years. We met up for dinner and drinks when I was in Melbourne in December. We chatted about lots – including AA coping strategies and different things we have tried to regrow hair.

Johannes and me

Me and Johannes

Johannes advice

It was amazing for me to meet Johannes. he was a very positive person and someone who I am glad now to call my friend. He gave me this piece of sage advice -which I am trying to reflect on whenever I get down:

Remember, yes AA while not life threatening, is certainly life altering but you are not your hair, my friend – You are so much more, and hair while of course aesthetically nice does not define you.
I think we could all learn a lot from the above quote. It’s very hard to shift that awful voice that sometimes submerges your waking thoughts.
Instead of listening to the negative internal monologue – actually listen to another objective human point of view – preferably someone who knows you or someone you trust.
Actually listen to what they say.

LDN and Alopecia

No I’m not talking about the capital of the UK or quoting a Lily Allen song, I’m on about Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) – a drug that I’ve just started taking.

Apparently naltrexone, in a low dose (the LD in the LDN), can normalise the immune system — helping those with HIV/AIDS, cancer, autoimmune diseases, and central nervous system disorders. A lot to live up to.

The drugs

Naltrexone’s normal use is for treating addiction to opiate drugs such as heroin or morphine. The dose used for this purpose is usually between 50 and 300mg daily. The one I am taking is way, way lower. I am starting at 1mg and going up steadily to a max of 4.5 mg.

You need to get it on private prescription which is what I have done. For  more info on LDN – go to the LDN research trust.

The alopecia

Well – it’s back with a vengeance on my chest.

There has also been a general thinning on the top of my head and a few small patches have been threatening to make a more formal appearance for ages now.

Logging my results

I started taking it on 5 November 2016 and started on a 1mg dose of the liquid. After a few weeks I am now up to 4.5.

I am off to Australia today for 5 weeks so will try and blog while I am there and keep you up to date with my progress.

Cheers

R.

 

Patchy hair- don’t care

Ok  – so that’s a blatant lie. I do care  – but I’m adopting a much more relaxed approach to falling hair – when I see it on my laptop, desk or pillow I flick it off and try not to stress about it – most of the time.

What’s changed?

Nothing, I just know from past experience that stressing will not help me in the slightest. I am also trying out my ‘mini habits’ in an effort to curb stress and freak outs. They seem to be working.

The spots

O.K. so the hives/urticaria are still coming and going and I’m unsure if they are caused by emotional stress or intolerances but they remain a constant at the moment.

Is the hair loss following the same pattern as last time?

Nope. It is now coming away everywhere! Last time it was confined to my head – face and scalp. This time my chest hair is taking a beating. Have a gander at this:

The chest

Last time I lost hair on my scalp, I didn’t really lose any on my chest – apart from one wee dot – which as you can see has now spread and had lots of little spotty babies dotted in random places across my chest.

alopecia areata patches on my chest

Patchy Chest

My scalp

I keep looking at the patch on my left side whenever I get out of the shower – but the same apocalyptic feelings just aren’t there as much anymore – I give a wee shrug and feel a bit shit but so far I can pat hair over it and carry on with my day. When the day comes – or should I say – if – it comes, I have a handy pair of shears with my head’s name on them. I’ve done it before and have no issue with shaving it all off again.

I do have a few patches on my head but they seem to be minimal compared to the fast spreading ones on my chest. And like I said – I’m really not that bothered at the moment

The good news

My facial hair seems to be returning! Amidst all the shedding, my moustache is making a bit of a comeback. I am not going to rival Tom Selleck anytime soon but it’s coming back very, very slowly.

So I can now have a moustache! Ok it’s patchwork kind of moustache but it’s mine, I grew it and my face feels ‘normal’ again. It’s like I’m 14 again and trying to prove I NEED to shave. I forget it’s there but every time I see it, I have a wee smile.

So I was off work for a full week and didn’t shave. This is the result:

half moustache regrowth from alopecia

14 year old flashback

Those wee white hairs on my chin have been there since September 2012, when I hoped they would gradually turn black and grow like they used to. They haven’t so far – so I may rock a badger beard in the future – who knows.

Eyebrows

I’m pretty unsure what’s happening with these former caterpillars. I keep thinking that my left eyebrow is filling in a bit and then i notice wee spots of bald across both eyebrows and the panic sets in again. I can deal with no hair but would rather keep my eyebrows and eyelashes this time if possible.

eyebrows august 2016 close up

Eyebrows August 2016

The Future

God knows what’s to come with the hair anywhere on my body. I’m heading to Australia, Singapore and Thailand in December so who knows if I am going to be getting my bald head burnt or crossing continents with a decent head of black hair. I’ll keep you posted.

 

 

Out damn spot. . .

Howdy folks

Can I start by saying that – the reason I started this blog was to:

“post pictures and share stories of how I’m getting on with alopecia areata as I want to be a positive voice for a not-so-positive type of hair loss”.

I was sick of hearing horror stories and reading depressed people on blogs who (in my mind at the time) were obsessed with the reason for their alopecia.  I thought that their quest was an all-consuming, doomed crusade.

The above quote was my mission statement when I began the blog – but I failed to realise I actually was (and to an extent still am) one of those obsessed people – trying to work out ‘Why me’?!

What’s happened over the course of the few years I’ve been blogging is that I’ve started to dread these confessional moments – so much so that recent posts have been few and far between. I didn’t want to jinx the fact my hair was coming back by talking about it – and I didn’t want to sound like a whiny obsessive.

BUT – here I am -owning the fact that I am a whiny obsessive – at times. And that’s cool – I mean – my hair is coming out in patches across my head for f*cks sake! So I’m going to cut myself some slack, stop obsessing about obsession and get you up to speed.

I wrote the following blog post yesterday and I talk about my newest obsession – SPOTS. . .

_________________________________________________________________

Last time I explained that the patches are peeking through again. What I failed to mention was that this time they’ve been accompanied by some other weird affliction – hives/spots/urticaria whatever you wanna call it.

Spot the difference

This started in January 2016 when I noticed a few red spots on my hand. I brushed them off as just wee spots or maybe contact dermatitis. However – over the past few months  – as my hair has been falling – the spots/hives have been coming back and spreading all over my body with an almost daily regularity.

 

This isn’t anything new – I have always had seasonal bouts of skin flare ups – as most folk do – prickly heat/heat rash and a wee bit of eczema occasionally. However – as this has coincided with my second bout of hair loss – my frantic mind overtook my sensible one and I started becoming reacquainted with the manic Google search. Worst mistake ever.

In-between protracted google searching and obsessing over the placement of dots – I kept badgering my doctor to get me referred to a dermatologist for both my alopecia and this new skin issue.

I finally got an appointment last week at the dermatologist – when I arrived I had NO spots – typical. I did have the above photos on my phone – which I showed her. She diagnosed Cholinergic Urticaria. So that’s a double whammy of alopecia areata and cholinergic urticaria.

Why is my immune system such a twat?

Cholin-er-what-now?

Sometimes referred to as heat bumps, as the rash appears as very small – surrounded by bright red flares.

What causes cholinergic urticaria?

A rise in core body temperature resulting in sweating causes the rash in cholinergic urticaria. Common triggers can include:

  • Exercise
  • Hot baths/showers
  • Emotional stress

Argh – stress rears it’s ugly head again as a potential trigger 😦

Obviously as my alopecia’s back & this is happening – I’m now stressing out more about both of the above – a vicious cycle of anxiety is occurring – and whirring. My already strung out brain is wondering if I have literally brought all of this upon myself – with the aforementioned ’emotional stress’.

So what am I going to do?

Firstly I’m going to deffo STOP obsessing and googling ‘hives‘, ‘red dots on skin‘, ‘urticaria‘ and all the rest every five frigging minutes – we all know where frantic googles lead…usually to a diagnosis of cancer or some other terminal, tropical, incurable disease.

I’m going to try to chill the f*ck out – on a daily basis – this applies both at home and work. Easier said than done but I have a few ideas:

How I’m going to chill:

  1. I’m going to try to start a daily practise of mindfulness  – even for just five minutes – every single day
  2. I’m going to start going back to Bikram Yoga – I went for a few months last year and loved it. I haven’t been for a while and am thinking it might help
  3. I’m going to keep exercising 3 or 4 times a week
  4. I am going to try and write more on this blog
  5. This is the hardest one – I’m going to try and cut down on the alcohol and processed food. I generally eat a healthy, vegetable and protein heavy diet but I do like the regular beer/wine/gin.

 

So what am I going to do if nothing works?

If, after 3 months (September 2016) none of the above help my current situation (spots and patches) – I’m tempted to go back on anti-anxiety medication – to stop the constant whirring thoughts and chatter that occupy my brain during most of my waking and worrying hours. Thoughts that are either taken up by spots or hair loss. What an exciting combo – spot and patch sound like a pair of low-rent strippers.

I’m having a daily battle with the should I – shouldn’t I. Maybe the anti anxiety medication will stop the hives and/or alopecia – or just stop me worrying about both.

Here’s hoping that in 3 months  – I’ve calmed down and either gotten used to being spotty and patchy – or they have cleared up.

I will, as ever  – keep you posted. Give me a shout if you want to chat or if you have any advice on the above.

Cheers

Reece

 

 

Hello Darkness, my old friend…The return of Alopecia and departure of hair (again).

No, this post isn’t an homage to Simon & Garfunkel, as lovely as they are. I’m merely borrowing lyrics to highlight my current mood. It’s getting darker – which is the inverse of my hair – which is getting lighter. By lighter I mean patchier. By patchier – I mean – the always lurking alopecia areata is making a comeback 😦

One year on

It’s been precisely a year since I started to grow my hair back in. I shouldn’t whine – I had a full head of regrowth for summer (no sweaty cap or burnt scalp for me) and for my sister’s wedding. In the back of my mind I always knew it would come back (or go – whichever way you look at it).

When people asked me or saw an old photo of me and were puzzled – I’d explain that I have Alopecia – not had. I would never trust them when they said “Really, I would never know”. Such is my paranoia when it comes my hair.

IMG_5670

Paris, March 2016

Never really went away

I never had full regrowth, below is a list of the stuff that didn’t properly grow back when my luscious mane did:

  • My eyebrows never fully grew back to the Brooke Shields/Cara Delevigne caterpillars that they were  – but at least I had some – even if it did look like I’d over-plucked
  • A patch on my chest and trunk – which started when my head hair came back.
  • I had one patch of (no) hair – above a newly returned grey spot which never came back in (see below)

grey bit

 

What am I going to do this time?

You may remember last time I tried a few things? This time I don’t want to radically overhaul my diet (as I’ve been steadily eating healthier foods and upping my fitness levels for the past few months). I gave up smoking – in January and am drinking less alcohol than I ever have.

I seriously believe that my alopecia is either:

  • a cyclical thing  – that I have no control over
  • it’s triggered by stress – which I do have control over
  • both

Point is, if I remove or react to stress better, it’s a win-win. I know how mini stressful episodes affect me – I get a racing mind, laboured breath and a tightness of  muscle. Whether these mini episodes have contributed to my alopecia or not – I don’t want them. So…

This time, the only things I’m going to do are:

  • Try (and I do mean try really hard) to calm the f*ck down
  • Try not to stare at the ever increasing patches of pink skin
  • Remember to breathe – seriously, I’m making a conscious effort to take big long lung-bucket-fulls of breath – it’s not only good for the soul – focussing on my breath will stop my mind racing about impending baldness

I just need to remember that I’ve been through all this shit before. The ‘worst’ that can happen is actually more of an inconvenience – having to shave my head, facial hair and patchy eyebrows off on a daily basis. It isn’t life threatening and lots of people are going through much worse than me.

I’m away to snort some oxygen and (not) look at my hair in the mirror!

 

 

 

2016 #Alopecia Update

I’m starting this post with an apology – sorry for not posting to all those people asking for an update. The reason I started this blog was to give people regular information and to keep track real time of what was happening with my alopecia. I didn’t keep my end of the bargain but here’s an update  – with a possible explanation.

The reason I haven’t blogged as much as I promised

Aside from being lazy, I haven’t updated as much because – my hair’s been growing back really well during 2015 and I didn’t want to go back to my obsessive state by talking – or even thinking about it.

This may sound like an excuse (and it is) but every time I thought “shit I need to write a blog post” – another wee voice in the back of my (now hairy) head said – “nah – just enjoy the full head of hair you have – stop fretting”.

As I said at the start of this post – sorry for that. Here’s the back of my head taken today (January 4th) – pretty much covered – apart from the usual thinning a 38 year old can expect.

DSC_0093

Back of my head January 2016

The hair on my head has almost all returned (you can see where it is thinner) – apart from one spot above my right ear, which is covered in grey/white hair :

grey bit

The shot above showing the grey patch above my right ear is light years away from the photo below – taken almost 3 years ago in February 2013.

Alopecia hair February 2013

Feb 2013

Facial Hair

This has remained pretty static and hasn’t fully returned – here’s a face shot from today -as you can see most of my eyebrows and eyelashes are back but my moustache hasn’t fully returned (no Movember for me) and you can see that my cheeks and chin STILL have the white hairs – which haven’t as yet gone ‘back to black’.

DSC_0090

Again – though there isn’t full regrowth – it is hugely improved from July 2013 (below) when I had to razor my head, face and eyebrows everyday.

Alopecia hair July 2013

July 2013

What have I been doing differently?

Nothing – as I’ve said a few times – and to people who comment on various posts or ask me questions – I haven’t done anything drastic or different. I have stopped:

  • obsessing
  • staring at the patches
  • worrying

I’m unsure if this is the reason for regrowth or just the end of this cycle of hair loss – but learning to shift focus from worry and obsession of alopecia has worked for me physically and emotionally.

Unfortunately the flip side of this approach means I have neglected the duties of this blog. 

I will try my best to update much more frequently and please let me know if you have any questions, comments or anything you want me to blog about.

Cheers and Happy 2016!

august 2015

 

Reece

 

 

my scribble

Practice what I preach?

It’s time to take heed of my own advice – as some of you who follow this blog may know – I recently started growing my hair in as it has started to come back all of a sudden.

Not yet ‘full circle’ – damn it!
A strange thing is happening – some people who got to know me P.A. (Post Alopecia) now imagine me as always having a bald head or a fair complexion. Which is crazy to me as I have always had really dark black hair.

When the hair started to come back I thought “Ah this process is like a circle (cue ham fisted analogy…) I am coming back to a full head of hair – full circle – onwards and upwards. The circle analogy also worked when analysing my actual hair or lack thereof – the ever increasing/decreasing circles.

Here is where my circle analogy works – no really:

I conveniently forgot that a circle is the same shape on both sides – to get from one to the other  you follow the same shape and in my case – to go from no hair – to growing more – I am experiencing the same feelings. This isn’t great news.

Jesus that was laboured! 
Apologies – maybe my wee doodle will help explain what I’m not articulating that well…
my scribble

Circles! That appear as ‘missing patches’ and the trajectory of feelings you go through. From bad to better and back again

I now seem to have regressed to a state of embarrassment and acute paranoia as the remaining holes (or circles if I am to flog this damn ‘circle‘ related analogy) seem much more visible thanks to the abundance of reappearing black hair – highlighting the fleshy pink islands of baldy skin.
top of a head recpvering from alopecia areata

March 2015


Some recent comments from colleagues and folk I have met since having a shaved head:
  • “I can’t get over how dark your hair is”
  • “I could have sworn you were blonde”
  • “Ooh I am going to have to get used to the new you”
A couple of people haven’t actually recognised me or done the dreaded double take. Which happened ALL the time when I was losing my hair – especially when I had just shaved it off and had zero eyebrows.

My AA meetings
Some people I see regularly didn’t even know I had alopecia and (I hate to admit this) but I have started to revert to my old stock ritual of blurting out “I HAVE ALOPECIA” added as a tag on to any conversation with a person I suspect is wondering what the f*ck is going on with my hair.
My justification is that I am making people feel more comfortable but I know it is really down to low self esteem and panic that they may think I have mange! 🙂
How am I dealing with this?
I have gone back to my old faithful wardrobe of hats – detailed here and seem to freak out when I have to walk around sans hat! Which is every day at work 09.00 -17.30.
I walk to the shops at lunchtime with beanie pulled firmly over my head – not usually an issue with the bleak Scottish weather – though today was sunny, I had a wooly hat on – a sweaty head and decided -TAKE YOUR OWN EFFIN ADVICE!!!
As a result, I have been thinking about the advice I have given over this blog and to many people who have emailed me. I have just read through all of my correspondence from you amazing blog watchers and re-read all blog posts, to try and take heed of some of my own advice.

My advice – which I need to tackle ‘head’ on:
  • Walk tall and let people look – They can look and think what they like, their stares or opinions will not impact the growth of my hair BUT letting potential stares worry me COULD.
  • Stop worrying about the hair – Worrying is not a valuable past time – especially when worrying about an auto-immune condition that may or may not be triggered by stressful situations.
  • Stop running my hands through my ever increasing head fluff (and waiting to see hair come off in my hand) My hair is not falling out like it was so I need to STOP looking for something to be sad/worried about.
  • Stop staring in the mirror – My reflection isn’t going to change in an instant and staring at something for long periods of time leads to obsession and distortion. Try staring at your nose in the mirror for a long time and you will see what I mean!

 “Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to turn it into a door”

Coco Chanel

Everyone has their setbacks and I feel I am now in a similar process (looks wise) as I was when I took the decision to shave my head. There are patches of missing hair and I am in two minds whether to shave it all of again or carry on growing it and seeing what happens.

shaved head with alopecia

My hair after I first clippered in 2012

March 2015

March 2015

What I am planning to do:
Having a shaved head is easier in a way as people just assumed – as above – that I was balding, blonde or they knew I had Alopecia.
Growing back the hair and the visual effects I see (or imagine others are seeing) are dredging up the same feelings I had pre head shave but as stated earlier – I am going to keep on trucking and see this through.
Last time the circles were expanding – this time they are slowly decreasing – so I figure that in a few weeks, the remaining patches will fill themselves in slowly over time.
Whatever happens I will keep you all posted! And accept my apologies for the circle analogy I tried to foist on all of you!
Thanks everyone for sharing your similar stories, words of encouragement, your images and best wishes.
Cheers
Reece

Addendum:
I am thinking of adding a forum to this blog so other people can share their stories and speak to whoever else they want to. It has been cathartic, extremely helpful and so unbelievably positive chatting to you all so far and I would like the many people who have emailed me to have an easy to use, open network of communication from which they can reach out to other people in a similar situation for advice or support.
Let me know what you think and I will get a WordPress plugin for forum functionality.