When faced with something like alopecia, some people find that thoughts pop into their head which aren’t always accurate. It is a perfectly normal to have unhelpful thoughts towards an unusual or new situation. But it's important to challenge these thoughts as otherwise they can lead people to finding it harder to cope with their situation. Remember, you might have been having unhelpful thoughts for a very long time and it can take a lot of practice to start spotting when they pop into your head. 

Here are some examples of the type of unhelpful thoughts that you may have had, together with ways of challenging them:

Everyone is staring at me.

Some people might have a fleeting moment of registering that there is someone near them who has a bald/patchy head. They double take – is it a chosen hair style? are you undergoing chemotherapy? A moment of curiosity. And then they move on to the rest of their day. They are unlikely even to remember that they saw you later in the day. They didn’t `stare', they checked what they thought was an unusual situation.

Ok, unfortunately, some people might stare but please be reassured that they are definitely in the minority by a long way. And it is a problem they have got – not one you have!

If I haven’t got hair then I can’t be attractive.

Anxiety around the way we look is something we all deal with in our lives, hair or no hair. Most humans have insecurities regarding something about their appearance. It's true that without hair there may an added level to this anxiety, especially given the way the media portrays beauty standards, for both men and women, however the way we associate hair with beauty is a thing that is changing (just a bit slower than we'd like!). There are many models and celebrities who choose to have short or shaved styles. Many celebrities even wear wigs, often for fashion but sometimes for other reasons. One of the most recent contestants on America’s Next Top Model has Alopecia Totalis and got to the final four, with many praising her for her beauty and strength.

Your friends don’t find you any less or more attractive with alopecia, they love you exactly as you are!

I will never get another boy/girlfriend.

You know from stories you may have read on our social media pages and in the press, that people with alopecia do meet partners and have happy relationships just like everyone else.

Does alopecia fundamentally affect relationships? Does hair loss make a difference? Or, if there is a difference, is it that people with alopecia can sometimes feel depressed in the same way as other people, but with a more obvious trigger?

The important thing to remember is that many people with alopecia have variously successful relationships, just like everyone. Alopecia is just one aspect of their person.

People are laughing at me.

Would you laugh at somebody with a similar problem? Everyone is capable of smiling at, for example, a person wearing a large, very colourful hat, or perhaps someone with brightly coloured hair. It's really no more important than that. Just something a bit unusual, forgotten as soon as the person's out of sight.

The thoughts are understandable because they reflect how you might be feeling. But they aren’t rational. And it can be very helpful to try to deal with these thoughts.

It might help to talk to friends, or if you think it will be more helpful, ask your doctor to recommend a counsellor with whom you can talk it through. The likelihood is that neither you nor your family and close friends are therapists, and you shouldn’t regard any of these tips as a replacement if you feel you need to speak to a professional. Remember that people close to you could be having almost as much trouble as you yourself in coming to terms with alopecia.