hair regwroth

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 ūüė¶

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.

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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!

 

 

 

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! ūüôā
How am I dealing with this?
I have gone back to my old faithful wardrobe of hats Рdetailed 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 РI am going to keep on trucking and see this through.
Last time the circles were expanding Рthis time they are slowly decreasing Рso 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.

Me. November 2014

Well here I sit on the beach in Edinburgh with Kitty Рmy puppy. Almost a full head of hair (apart from a slow growing patch at the back and a few tiny wee holes dotted around).

Oh yeah and pretty much one and a half eyebrows and full set of eyelashes!

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Photo update – my Alopecia and regrowth – 2.5 years on.

Howdy Blog watchers

I am so sorry for the delay in posting pictures. I have been pretty busy with the birth of our wee girls 7 Boston Terrier puppies. Check the cuties out here.

Back to the hair – enough puppy chat/excuses!

Here I am attempting to show you (in pictures) the spread, loss then regrowth of my hair over  a 2.5 year period. My Alopecia started as little spots on my chin back in November 2011. I thought it was just Alopecia Barbae and was still distressed- then it gradually spread and I shaved my head  in 2012- detailed here.

Where it all began – first ‘spotted’ in November 2011 and by the time it got this big – I was officially scared, depressed and stressed!! (March 2012):

two spots of nothing.

Two spots of nothing.

Comic Hitler tache

Comic Hitler ‘tache

looking scared

Chunk missing

 

 

 

 

 

The first image was taken in June 2012.

Once my facial hair began to disappear Рso did my hair: The first spots appeared/ hair dissapeared in July 2012.

The big shave

So I shaved it all off on holiday in Spain in August 2012

Baldy Bald

Baldy Bald

And here is an above head shot from when I first shaved:

The solar system at the start

The solar system at the start

 

Is there any hope?

I started to notice thin white hairs growing back into my facial hair loss in September 2012

chin with alopecia regrowth

regrowth on my chin

September 2012 regrowth –¬†Egypt

I was hoping that the blonde would go black straight away – it didn’t.

My hair kept disappearing, too: here is a peek from the front and top (both taken in October 2012).

My head with alopecia

From the front

My head with alopecia

From the top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 2012

Alopecia head

My right side

man with alopecia areata

In the middle of my long alopecia episode

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 November 2012

November 2012

Right side

November 2012

Left side

 

 

My eyelashes and  eyebrows started to disappear in November 2012.

Alopecia Eyebrows and missing eyelashes

Eyebrows up close

alopecia on an eyebrow

Disappearing caterpillar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The eyebrows were a low ebb – but the loss of my eyelashes are what made me feel more alien – literally. It is a strange sensation not having eyelashes. People gave me a second look as they couldn’t quite put their finger on ‘what wasn’t right’.

I have detailed in another post my experiences trying to hide my missing eyebrows.

 

In case you can’t be bothered reading that post and want to see what my pencilled-in efforts looked like:

eyebrows alopecia

Pencilled-in eyebrow as of November 2012

I tried a number of  different ways to regrow my hair or at least hide the fact I had Alopecia, but found that a close shave (in the end) was best. At this point I was shaving my head daily and ignoring the ever-decreasing eyebrows and lashes.

My facial hair was also fast disappearing  Рagain taken in November 2012.

Facial hair disappearing alopecia

My chin

alopecia facial hair

From the side

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 2012

The patches started¬†¬†to spread quicker – which made my Christmas elf hat less itchy as there wasn’t as much stubble to aggravate it.

As you can see from the images below most of the holes started to join up with each other especially the two big ones at the left hand side! I hate those two bad boys.

My Alopecia December 2012

My head from the back

My Alopecia December 2012

The left hand side of my head

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year 2013

In 2013 it seemed to progress quicker. Here is the top of my head taken in January 2013.

Alopecia as of January 2013

 

February 2013

Alopecia hair February 2013

Alopecia hair February 2013

Alopecia hair February 2013

At this point I was still wearing beanie hats and pencilling in my missing chunks of eyebrow.

March 2013

This was when I started realising that my eyebrows were more or less drawn on and I saw a picture and realised it was time to get rid of them.

pencilled in eyebrows

Abi and the eyebrows ūüôā

shaved eyebrows following alopecia

shaved eyebrows following alopecia

 

As you can see, they looked fake and I hadn’t realised until I saw the image above. So in March 2013 I shaved them off in the shower whilst shaving my¬†head.

The middle image above makes me look strange and if you look closely you can see that it is because my right eye has hardly any top eyelashes and the left eye does. Not a great look but now I looked bald and possibly blonde?! Just another balding fair haired guy? That is what I told myself and started to walk about without hats – in certain places anyway.

May 2013

  • Then the hair loss¬†started to snowball and this was when I thought “F*ck it!”
  • My alopecia¬†was getting worse and worse.
  • I had become resigned to it and pretty much everyone had seen it and knew what it was.
  • I still got the odd comment but brushed it off because (finally) I was in a stronger place and didn’t actually care as much as I did at the start.

Now that’s progress!

The images below are from July 2013. As you can see there is hardly any hair left at all.

Alopecia hair May 2013 Alopecia hair May 2013 Alopecia hair May 2013 Alopecia hair May 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alopecia hair July 2013 Alopecia hair July 2013

Alopecia hair July 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

These images represent the worst my Alopecia got (It seems strange saying that but I don’t want to jinx anything).¬†Then I stopped taking photos as much of my head as I actually forgot about it!

Forgetting about it

Here I am forgetting about it at a wedding in Valencia in September 2013.

Valencian wedding

Guests at a Valencian wedding

I decided to forget and what happened a month later??? The bastard started coming back!!! Exactly two years since I noticed it going!!!!! My previous post was correct! And there is hope for all you people out there who got this late and are hoping yours may come back in this famed two year period!!!

November 2013 THE RETURN OF MY HAIR!

Alopecia regrowth November 2013

Alopecia regrowth November 2013

Whaddya know –¬†¬†it kept on growing through December. Merry Effing Christmas!!!!

 

2014 – The year of regrowth

The year started well for me.

Here I am in January…. More progress on my regrowth in my next post………

December 2013 Alopecia regrowth

Kisses from Coco

December 2013 Alopecia regrowth

Haaaaaappy Christmas

 

 

My hair is coming back.

My hair has slowly started growing back.

And I mean painfully. Slowly.

Creeping back into existence…

chin with alopecia regrowth

regrowth on my chin

  • I first noticed it coming back and blogged about it way back in May 2012.
  • The image to the right shows my face squished against a black bag under a bright light so you can see (if you look really really hard) that there are some hairs there!
  • But that was all it was – wee whitey/blonde hairs that needed to be shaved off my face everyday.

I just carried on and forgot about this.

THEN Рall of a sudden. . . .

January 2014 Рmy partner  (who takes all the pictures I share with you) said to me:

“Put your head down a second!”

After looking puzzled then twigging it was about my Alopecia (and therefore my vanity) I whipped my head down.

Arghhhh¬†“It’s coming back! It’s coming back”!

Photographs

Naturally I wanted proof of this – here is an image from March 8 2013.

my disappearing hairline

slowly slowly

 

And here is an image from January 2014

 

My head in January 2014

My head in January 2014

 

Woohoo – still a long way to go but I am getting there.

 

I hope that my regrowth has given some of you a glimmer of hope.

Speak to you all soon and please get in touch with any comments, queries and concerns.

 

Reece.