A fair description of my "Alopecia Journey" would be comparable to the board game Snakes and Ladders. Both in terms of the physical and somewhat haunting cycle of my hair growing and falling and in respect of all of my deepest, darkest emotions along the way.

When asked about writing this post, the wonderful team at Alopecia UK suggested I could "inspire" people which instantly made me uncomfortable. I didn't want to put my name to such a personal and public entry if it wasn't authentic. Anyone that knows me, knows I am not a poster girl for shamelessly embracing my baldness. If I stumbled upon a magic lamp, I would probably have (the most enviable) hair, eyebrows and eyelashes shortly thereafter. That said, I am where I am and I am ok with that. In order to try and stick(ish) to the brief, I have decided to save (almost) all of the writing of this blog for when I am on my "good alopecia days" (which for what it is worth out-number the bad days roughly 85:15).

The "Video" seems the appropriate place to start:

I watched it back for the first time in seven years and my heart really did break for the girl in that video. Even typing this I am quite overcome with emotion. I was '50 Shades of Sad' when it was recorded, and I wouldn’t wish that feeling on my worst enemy. I was surprised however how much better I felt (quite instantly) after posting it online. I will give myself credit where credit is due and it took courage for me to share a very vulnerable version of myself after hiding my alopecia for so many years - I previously travelled the world, swam in the sea and competed in netball tournaments, all with a wig on.

From a short-term perspective, the sincere messages of support I received from people who watched it (friends, family, acquaintances, colleagues, strangers and even people I have had personal run-ins with over the years) was something I had never expected and I will be eternally grateful for all of those good-hearted people. I know it has been doing the rounds of late, but the message "Be Kind" is sacrosanct. Be unabashedly kind, even when no one is watching.

From a long-term perspective, I no longer became a victim of circumstance and took control of my situation and regained some of my power. I was entrapped in self and society-imposed limitations of what it means to look normal or what you need to be considered  physically beautiful. Alopecia (or any kind of physical difference) does not in any way determine or influence the direction of your life; it is your perspective that does. When you think about it, physically you are fine. Alopecia does not hold you back. It only holds us back if we allow it to. We can lock ourselves away from shame, shun life and cry about all its unfairness but to what cost? Remember people always regret what they didn’t do more than what they did do. Instead, we can get through the fear and retain some control, we can learn to sit with the uncomfortable and know that each time we do it, it gets that little bit easier. We are always so much more capable than we think we are. We must learn to swim in the end.

Whilst I have never felt as bad as I did before I recorded that video, I have played cat and mouse with relinquishing and reclaiming the control and power alopecia has over me throughout the years. Whilst I fear this may be the case for many if not all my years to come, I also know that I didn’t come this far to only come this far.

Any words of advice?

Practicing gratitude at every chance you get always helps. Varying from appreciation that you can fearlessly wear lip gloss in the wind and enjoy rapid morning showers, to having clothes on your back, a roof over your head and food in your belly. Life could be infinitely worse. I remind myself so often how blessed I am and the more I practice that, the more trivial alopecia becomes.

It is all about balance. If you stoically march on (which I have done) and ignore the feeling that for me feels like I am being buried alive, you will hit an ugly, but probably transformative, breaking point (which I have done). If you wallow in self-pity (which although is less "my style", I have also done) you become a woe-is-me egomaniac who struggles to see all the other joys of life or even give proper airtime for other people's pain (again, I have done this). Do not be this person, not even you like this person. You need to allow space for your emotions but to not let them control you. Show empathy to yourself and others and enjoy as much of life as you can … I am somewhat of a hedonist and luckily for me I enjoy the good life far too much to be down for too long!

If the options are to laugh or to cry, always laugh. Humour is a defence and learning to laugh at yourself is one of the best things you can do. Refuse to take things personally and don't feed your ego.

I wouldn’t look for answers (which for the record I still do). We have all heard of people who cured themselves by eating only one vegetable that can only be found in the darkest corners of the Amazon or the person who rubs vinegar on their scalp and now boast Rapunzel worthy tresses. I believe, whilst searching for answers and cures is of course a worthwhile crusade, it can also be damaging. To take some wisdom from the football fans out there, sometimes in life it is the hope that kills us.

Don't compare yourself to others– this one is a constant battle but one we should never concede.

To draw on Elizabeth Day's highly successful book and/or podcast "How to Fail", very often in life great things come from adversity. Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn, sometimes you grow. For me having alopecia has been an ever-long lesson in humility, empathy, and strength. If I never had alopecia I would never have some of the things that I like most about myself.

I turned 30 this year and whilst alopecia wasn’t exactly on my vision board, dare I say, it does get easier. You care less about what people think. You become more comfortable in your own skin. You begin to see things more for what they really are. You understand your triggers and know when you are self-sabotaging. I know I still have a lot to learn and this in itself actually excites me for life, how boring life would be if you knew everything. Side note: for anyone reading this who is struggling at school or at university, just know that on the whole it does get easier.

If you are reading this because someone you love suffers from alopecia, remember all anybody really needs is to be seen, to be heard and to be understood. So earnestly look, listen, and appreciate.

If you are reading this and you struggle with alopecia, remember that perfection is boring and fitting in is overrated. In a world where everyone is striving to look the same, why not look different, why not be yourself? 

It is back to rolling the dice on the board game for me but I will keep trying to (whilst knowing they are inevitable) dodge the snakes and avoid unravelling my progress whilst mostly aiming for the ladders so I can accept alopecia with grace and enjoy all that life has to offer.

Instagram: @lacyjaneg (previously @baldie_locks_ but naturally I forgot my password)