Alopecia and how to cope with the effects of it

Case study on the trauma of alopecia and how to cope with the effects of it.

by Emma Holmes

I’ve pondered over how I could write this without sounding sorry for myself or it turning into a self help exercise over my alopecia. I’ve found it a lot more difficult than I thought.

When my hair fell out through alopecia, I didn’t only lose my hair, I lost myself. I had no self-esteem and I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. I just felt so ugly. Living in a society where hair symbolises beauty, there I was with no hair, listening to people telling me it’s personality that counts. I didn’t care about any of that: I just wanted my hair back.

Alopecia and natural hair wigsMy hair fell out because I had been pregnant with an ectopic pregnancy and when the hospital removed the tube, the drop in hormones sent my body into shock. Over a two week period, my hair fell out and over the following weeks, my eyelashes and eyebrows would follow. I remember asking the question – why me?

I was offered no counselling for what was happening to me, only anti depressants and a free wig from the NHS. I was diagnosed with alopecia. I spent hours on my computer searching for a solution to my problem; I didn’t believe that I was going to have to live without hair for the rest of my life.

I felt like my life was in turmoil and I had new experiences to cope with. I hated windy days because it would blow my wig and I equally hated sunny days because my head would itch. I had to learn to stick false eyelashes on and put eye makeup on which helped with my appearance.

The effect my alopecia (hair loss) had on my family and friends was also devastating. I don’t know what I would have done without my Mama. I am so thankful she was there watching over me.

My relationship with my partner also suffered, I didn’t want him to see me with no hair. I was scared that he wouldn’t be able to look at me in the same way. It turns out that he loves me with or without hair; however, it took me a while to get used to this idea.

Through my research, I learned that you could buy wigs that were made of real hair and looked natural. My parents paid £3000 for two that were called hair systems and they were supposed to be bespoke!

The company that I bought the hair systems from basically didn’t give me what I paid for! I couldn’t wear what they had given me as the first time they stuck it on my head, they hadn’t done a patch test first and I had an allergic reaction. The hair wasn’t good quality and was unmanageable; the list of problems was endless.

By chance, I met a guy called Simon Beale who had a company called Hair Systems London in Watford, North London. Meeting Simon was like a breath of fresh air: he had all the time in the world for me and had the understanding and knowledge I had longed for.

From the minute I walked through the door, I felt at ease. Simon explained to me the pros and cons of wigs and hair systems and the difference between the two and how they are attached. With this knowledge, I was able with Simon’s guidance to make the right choice for me.

As I had experienced allergic reactions with glues and tapes before, I decided that a human hair wig was the way to go. Within days of wearing my new wig I had renewed confidence, the fit was brilliant, it didn’t itch and I didn’t feel self conscious when the wind blew my hair. At last, I felt like a little part of the old me was back.

Simon didn’t just sell me a wig, he was there to give me continual help with how to take care of my wig, and also supported me on the road to emotional recovery.

I have started to think differently about the way I look and now dared to see that being different or breaking the mould by having to wear a wig, whether it’s because women have decided to shave their hair off or it has fallen out, isn’t as socially unacceptable as I has previously thought and that beauty is not all about looks.

Like most women I still have good days and bad but at last my self-confidence has returned through Simon’s continued help and support.Getting to the other side of alopecia

I had spent a long time growing my red hair, in fact, I had never had it cut short. When I was diagnosed with lymphoma, I was told I may have options, including the cold cap. Unfortunately, the treatment I had would cause the loss of my hair.

Just nine months before I was due to get married, my family and I grappled for another option. After many phone calls to wig companies who couldn’t make a wig using my hair, we found Simon.

On meeting, he made us feel comfortable and sure of his expertise; I went for it and had Simon carefully shave my head. Three months later, I was presented with a beautiful wig, 1/3 my own hair with the rest colour-matched dyed. I had regained myself again, and a massive boost of confidence.

At our wedding in August, I was able to have the wedding hair style I had always wanted, with my red hair. I cannot thank Simon enough for the support he gave us, the advise on my alopecia and on my wig. All my family and friends comment on the amazing craftsmanship that has been put into it, and how incredible it is.

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