Dear Emma.. Dear younger self, It’s pretty tough at the beginning, isn’t it? You’re all over the place, feeling emotional, ashamed, horrified & scared of the unknown. Well, let me tell you; it’s a long journey but you will survive this! We all need time to process what’s happening and you will get help with that from your friends and family while you get your strength back. Then you’ll need time to maintain that strength so that you can put it to good use in all sorts of ways. The important thing is to never give up. At first you will want to hide away but as you come to understand that what is happening isn’t life threatening and that it is something you can learn to accept, you will be able to live life to the full. It won’t happen over night so ask for help. The professionals only have so much information and only one or two treatments that work for some but not for others. It would be good to try what is offered for a certain amount of time but it’s important that you don’t chase false hope, that you manage your expectations by doing your research of what is available and learn from others’ experience. The best place to find this is from people who are going through the same thing, they will understand best what you are feeling. You will find these people through Alopecia UK. This is a wonderful charity set up by people with alopecia themselves and with a hard-working team they help us with emotional and practical support, make others aware of what we are going through and fund research into the medical and psychological impact of alopecia. Alopecia UK and their community members on social media platforms will help to guide you on your journey. So, try to learn to love what you see in the mirror - I’ve always thought I look like our lovely old dad even though I’m a girl, but he had such a kind face, so I don’t mind too much! More importantly, I've learned to love myself, not just what I see in the mirror, but me, a little bit more each day. It's not easy, but this is done by not taking on board the negative things people say about how different people in society look if they don't conform and the negative things we always manage to find to say to ourselves. Try my motto 'not bad considering'. You may choose to cover up with what I call 'alternative hair' and drawn on eyebrows along with a bit of liner and eyeshadow – why not add some bright lipstick! That’s not what some might call ‘faking it’, it’s an ‘alternative you’ replacing something that was part of you before and you have the choice to do this or not. Your smile will shine out anyway because you know you’ve done a good job working at grabbing back that self-esteem - it's yours and nobody else’s. Love, Your older (and wiser!) self x Emma is the Charity Champion behind the wonderful 'People Like Us' book. We still have a small number of copies available to purchase from our shop.