It has taken me some time to put this into words, and I was not sure if I wanted to share this. I hope I do, and I hope that some of my family and friends are reading this now…This is extremely difficult for me to share, but it is Alopecia Awareness month in September, and well it is all about spreading awareness. Alopecia UK is a small charity working to improve the lives of those affected by Alopecia. The charity aims for support, awareness, and research. I want to start raising awareness and fundraising, so I am starting by sharing my own experience.

Alopecia UK does a great job in raising awareness of Alopecia, they educate and provide knowledge to those that might not know the different types of Alopecia and most importantly the significant psychological impact it has on those affected. They also provide impartial information, advice, and support to help those in the community feel less isolated.

I have two types of Alopecia. It is important to know that there are many types of Alopecia and I encourage you to have a quick read of the different types on the Alopecia UK website Some can be permanent, temporary, total, or partial hair loss. I have Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia (a type of Scarring Alopecia, where the hair follicle is destroyed and replaced with scar tissue, hair falls out across the front of the scalp. Hair loss can also affect the eyebrows.) and Androgenic Alopecia (hairs falls out in a well-defined pattern in men, whereas in women, the hair usually becomes thinner all over the head).

My life has completely changed. My well-being, my every day, my self-esteem, my self-confidence, and how I show up every day. The feeling of losing a part of myself and losing part of my identity. Through stress and anxiety, I also developed Trichotillomania, another type of Alopecia (a psychological condition, where you cannot stop pulling out hair, which leads to hair loss).

As the saying goes ‘People will never truly understand something until it happens to them’. I had no idea. I didn’t consider the impact before or open myself to the thought of how traumatic Alopecia can be. I didn’t think Alopecia could have such a profound effect on how I live my life. Finding out that my hair was not going to grow back was heartbreaking. It is important to know and understand that there is currently no known cure or guaranteed treatment to induce re-growth and sustainable remission for any type of Alopecia. Being part of this community has opened my eyes and mind to not only those who have Alopecia but all sorts of challenges in life. It’s made me realise that we are all just trying to figure it out as we go along, whatever ‘it’ is.

Alopecia UK does a great job in sharing some comments that can be challenging to hear for those with Alopecia, some of which I have heard myself.

At least it’s not…

Comparing to other health conditions might seem helpful but reminding those with Alopecia that “it could be worse” leads to feelings of guilt for the emotions we are feeling and thinking that our feelings aren’t valid.

Have you tried…

There are so many products that claim to help with hair loss. What might help one person might not help another. A lot of us have tried all the vitamins, hair oils, and treatments. It can be tiring to continually hear about products that will more than likely have no effect. It also feeds into the feeling of continually “fixing” the problem.

You can just wear a wig/at least you can wear a wig…

Wigs are a popular choice for many with Alopecia which can help with confidence but there are challenges. It doesn’t necessarily “fix” the problem or how we feel about ourselves. They can be hard to find. Difficult to feel like yourself with contradicting feelings. Questions and comments can feel very loaded.

Don’t stress

Whilst some types of Alopecia can be triggered by stress, it doesn’t always play a part. Plus, it is not simple as removing stress to stop hair loss or simply as “removing stress” (if only!!).

It’s just hair…

To someone coming to terms with Alopecia, this comment can feel dismissive of emotions or difficulties we feel and having our appearance change so drastically.

It’s been a few years for me since this all started and has taken up until now to initially speak about it. This is the first step for me in hopes to raise awareness. I am still struggling, and I hope that one day I can share more. I hope one day I will be more confident to do so.

I want to thank charities like Alopecia UK and the AMAZING women in the hair loss & hair-wearing community. I am so grateful for them sharing their stories, and experiences through social media and being such positive influences.

Thank you for supporting me with my fundraising and taking the time to read this. I appreciate your support and so does Alopecia UK. Gurleen Oberoi