I was recently talking to an inspiration of mine about the importance of awareness. The world is so ignorant, no matter how much we’d insist otherwise. Why else would campaigns like #TimesUp and #BlackLivesMatter be so necessary? Why else would #TimesUp and #BlackLivesMatter be so criticised? We could all use a little education in something, a little information to quench the fire that burns in the absence of understanding. Why else would I end every blog of mine by telling you all to “stay woke”?
Alopecia awareness is no different. When I was first diagnosed, my parents and I would spend every waking hour trying to figure out what on earth Alopecia Areata even was. We were ignorant, and apparently so was the majority of the population because we couldn’t find a scrap of useful information anywhere. Not in books. Not online. Only those stupid little pamphlets reassuring us that “it’s only a cosmetic issue, nothing to work yourself up over.” But it didn’t feel cosmetic; it felt awful.
At some point in what must be very recent history, all that changed. It’s like I blinked, and all of a sudden people like me were all over the place. Matt Lucas graced our screens, Joanna Rowsell Shand tore up the velodrome, Jeana Turner rocked the runway. Then, of course, YouTube happened, and people like HeyThereImShannon and the Hayes family made it possible for others with alopecia to figure out what was actually happening to them.
At that point, I swore that I’d do the same thing. So I tried. Then I stopped. Then I got anxious about starting again because my hair had grown back, and all of a sudden I didn’t feel as though I was qualified to talk about it anymore. But then it fell out again, and I regretted not writing this diary sooner.
So, hey. Hi. My name is Emily, and I have Alopecia Areata. It’s not a sickness. It’s not a cancer. It does clog the heck out of the plughole whenever I take a shower, but it’s not a problem. And I’m certainly not contagious.
Now that that’s out of the bag, let’s talk about the stuff that matters.
I wanted to write this diary as a sort of open documentation of my experiences with alopecia, good and bad. I guess, in many ways, I’m doing this as much for myself as for you; I wanted to ensure that nobody else has to deal with the ignorance that I put up with, and at the same time I needed somewhere to vent and process everything. Why not hit two birds with one stone?
I think I’ll start by saying that, despite the growing baldness on the crown of my head, I’m doing great. A little chilly, as you might expect, but that’s what hats are for. My hairloss has been visible for two weeks now, and it’s already getting difficult to conceal it. Well, see for yourself.
Not that I want to conceal it. I used to wear wigs full time, and before that I’d find other (less conspicuous) ways to cover up my disease. Beanies, bandanas, major comb-overs: all of which looked ridiculous. It wasn’t until the end of 2016 that I gave up on all that rubbish and owned my hairloss. How? By taking an electric shaver to my remaining hair and shaving it all off. Somehow, that just felt like the right thing to do, and not once have I regretted my decision. Will I go that far this time? I don’t know, I guess we’ll see what happens.
For now, all I have left to say is thank you. As nonchalant as I sometimes come across, this alopecia relapse has hit me – hard. I constantly find myself asking why: why me, why now? Yes, I can confidently say that it has gotten easier to handle with time, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. This time, however, I’ve had a team of kind-hearted warriors on my side, showering me with love and affection at every given opportunity, and I really appreciate that. I hope you will all join me in this journey, raising awareness for alopecia together.
Stay woke, kids.
To join the community, tweet the hashtag #AlopeciaAwareness.
As always, thank you so much for reading!
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