The earliest memory of my alopecia brings me to sunny Spain. Eight years old on my summer holiday with my family. I remember my Mum scraping back my hair into a bobble and following the brush were strands of my own hair, slowly falling out. With what started as a small bald patch at the back of my head (about the size of a 50p). Within weeks of arriving back home, I was almost completely bald and shortly followed my Alopecia Universalis diagnosis. I will leave it on the thought that I was a terrified eight-year-old girl, getting ready to face her classmates again after a summer of going bald. Not so fun.

Fast-forward twelve years this summer. My name is Anna, I am 20 years old and currently, a student studying Early Childhood Studies with the aim of becoming an Early Years teacher. Day-to-day, I wear a medium length wig which many of my friends would describe as ginger... (it's strawberry blonde!). However, when I'm back on my summer holidays' or just in warm weather I don't wear my wig, it stays in the suitcase. It's too warm and sweaty to be wearing what feels like a winter hat in the sun!

Throughout my hair loss journey, I have been extremely lucky to be surrounded by a supportive family and a group of friends to help me through the lows of growing up with alopecia. My parents were always there to remind me that I am not my hair, or hat, or wig- that I am Anna. My friends were always there to support me, through the awkward social situations of being a teenager wearing a wig. For these people I will be forever grateful.

Although I wouldn't be the person I am today without the support of my family and friends, I knew growing up that in order to be happy and content with myself, I had to take on a mindset that my hair (or lack of it) doesn't define who I am. This is something I had to do by myself and it wasn't easy. Like most teenage girls growing up, you want to fit in or look like someone on your Instagram feed. This was especially difficult when you're sixteen and everyone knows you wear a wig. I think I can speak for most girls (and boys), when I say it's hard to not compare yourself to the Kim Kardashians and Zac Effrons of Instagram. When this type of ‘self-comparison’ mindset started to kick in, I talked to myself like I would talk to my best friend. My alopecia was not an abnormality or making me any less 'pretty' than the girl on Instagram with thousands of followers and a head of luscious locks.

So, maybe someone else reading this could benefit from hearing some things that have helped me maintain a positive outlook on the ups and downs of hair loss:

CONNECT with other people who have alopecia. It is comforting to connect with someone going through a similar experience, and to know that you are not alone. Some of the ways you can connect with people include the 'Alopecia UK' website, Alopecia UK Facebook Groups, face to face support groups and lots of other online blogs of people sharing their alopecia story.

TALK to your family and friends when you're feeling low about hair loss. You can validate and talk out your feelings. Be reassured that these people are there for a reason, they would not want to bottle up feelings that are making you unhappy. Please make use of the support links around you!

ACCEPTANCE Unfortunately there is no 'official' cure for Alopecia, your hair loss is something you cannot change. Therefore, it's important for your own happiness, that you work on self-acceptance. A great way of doing this is reaching out to others with alopecia.

POSITIVE MIDSET (but remember it's OK to have a down day!)- Remember: tell yourself what you would tell your best friend. Would you tell them they're not 'pretty enough' or they don't look 'normal'? No, you wouldn't, so why would you tell yourself that? PRO TIP: Adding any Beyoncé or Lizzo song to your Spotify playlist is a superb confidence booster!

I hope this raises some awareness of alopecia and gives some support to someone who needs it. Hang in there, you got this!