“Help! I’m losing my hair rapidly—all is gone except a two inch patch right in the middle of my head. I’ve been diagnosed with Alopecia and I’m completely clueless. This is so sudden for me—any help will be greatly appreciated.”
Women often write or call about their hair loss but this particular email sent me back eleven “follicle” years. That’s when I jumped on the hair loss emotions roller coaster. You see, alopecia happens so spontaneously. One ordinary day your immune system just decides to launch an attack on your hair roots. You are helpless as you watch in total fear and anxiety as your precious locks wash down the shower drain, coat your pillow, and clump in your hairbrush. You’re left with uneven patches of smooth skin where hair used to reside. Alopecia isn’t only after your head hair. Your immune system can launch its attack anywhere you have hair—your face, arms, legs and eyebrows. All hair everywhere—alopecia universalis—that’s my particular brand of the disease.
Being diagnosed with alopecia is hard. Not knowing what caused your immune system to turn on you can be even more difficult for someone who is highly proactive about their health. Alopecia is unpredictable. Some get their hair back—others don’t. For some it stays, for some it does not. There is no cure. Once an alopecian, always an alopecian.
The catch all diagnosis of “stress” is often associated with an Alopecia diagnosis. Watching my father battle pancreatic cancer definitely brought stress. Was that the cause of my hair loss? I will never know. Eleven years later, I am watching my Mother “fight like a girl” in her own battle against lymphoma. More stress. What does my immune system have in store for me this time? No hair to sacrifice—what’s next?
Eleven years ago, I was alone, afraid, and confused. I can’t protect anyone else from hair loss emotions, but I do what I can to reassure them that they are not alone.