There are still so many stigmas in society regarding hair loss. It’s not easy to openly talk about alopecia for many people. Processing the grief of losing hair is incredibly difficult, and in the media this week influencer Roz Purcell shone a light on this matter. In light of this I spoke to Andrea Gilligan today about living with alopecia.
At the initial stages of hair loss, a lot of questions are asked. Is it due to my diet? Stress? Hair dye? Most frequently people ask, how do I get my hair back?
There are lots of elements of alopecia that even scientists don’t understand. But, we know this for certain. Alopecia is an auto-immune disease. Instead of your immune system protecting the ‘good’ in your body, and fighting off the ‘bad’, it becomes confused. Instead it sees hair follicles as ‘bad’, and attacks them. There are treatments to aid regrowth, but none work consistently with every person.
Before I spoke to Andrea Gilligan yesterday, I took time to stop and think about my initial response to developing alopecia, and put myself in Roz’s shoes. It’s really, really scary to find a bald patch. It’s only natural to jump to conclusions, and question your health and lifestyle. In my case I was only 7 years old. I didn’t have much of a grasp of health as a concept. My parents brought me to every specialist and consultant under the sun to make sure that my health was intact, despite the hair loss. And it was, and is. I’m very grateful to be healthy, and in fact most people with alopecia are healthy. Hair loss can happen to anyone at any time.My story is a long one. It started 15 years ago when I got diagnosed with alopecia. Within the space of 3 weeks, I had no hair, eyelashes or eyebrows. I’ve gone through hell and high water, struggling to come to terms with something that has left my appearance altered. There’s different phases to my emotional reaction to alopecia; childhood, teenagehood and my current phase. Acceptance and self-love. Living with alopecia is my normal.
I chose to wear a wig. I’ve had more bad experiences than I can count while in wig consultations. Alopecia leaves people feeling completely and utterly vulnerable, and lost. You really have to show a lot of patience, and empathy to the customer. If I go into a wig consultation, I want to leave feeling like a million dollars. I want to know the hair piece I chose is the best for me. I want to see that I have different options, and that my opinion is heard. When a customer is choosing a hair piece for the first time, or is just having a rough day, we want to give them the supports the feel most comfortable. With each and every customer that contacts us at HairWeavon, or passes through our door, we treat them with the utmost respect and kindness. Exactly how I’d want to be treated myself.
Whatever decision you make to manage your hair loss, we are here to support you. Our blog HairWeHaveOn is an online portal for advice, and emotional support. I’m passionate in what I do. I know that the content I create helps people going through hair loss. Not many people can say they got a job relating to their autoimmune disease, and I think mine is actually pretty cool.
Listen to Kate-Leigh speak on Newstalk on the Spotify link, Living With Alopecia, above or press here. Also available on Apple Podcast and Google Podcast.
Are you a parent, and would like resources on how to explain alopecia to a child? Stay tuned! Next week on HairWeHaveOn Kate-Leigh will be telling us about her childhood experience with alopecia. We also have a guest blogger Jo, writing about being a Mum with alopecia.