I’m losing my hair…

After writing a beauty blog for over half a year now, I think it’s about time I tell you about something beauty related that affects me on a daily basis. I apologise in advance that it’s going to be a long one and it might get a bit emotional.

Disclaimer-I’m not writing this for sympathy or attention, I’m writing this for my 14-year-old self and potentially others out there who suffer from a similar problem. I also wanted to write this in hope that people who do not suffer from a condition like this may begin to understand how it feels. I also want to say that I am very aware that there are many many people out there who have much worse problems than me, the thought of this helps give me a reality check when I’m feeling low and makes me thankful for what I have.

But that doesn’t mean that I’m not suffering too.

Okay so where do I begin? I guess I should tell you name of the condition, it’s called Androgenic/Androgenetic Alopecia (AA) or is more commonly known as Female Pattern Baldness.

When I first noticed what was happening I went online in search of forums. All I could find were middle-age women going through menopause talking about hair loss. Nobody remotely close to my age, so if you’re losing your hair and in your teens, I’m here to say that you’re not alone and you’re not a freak. You’ve just been handed some really rubbish genes and it’s okay to cry about it, I mean Lord knows I do! But and I know it’s really hard, some days you have to try your best to forget about it. Admittedly I’m still struggling with that last bit.

So to give you a quick summary, I started losing my hair when I was around 13/14 which is an early age to have this condition, it’s much more common in menopausal women. I’ve always had fine hair (the individual strands are thinner) but it was only then that I started to get thin hair (less strands overall). So, of course, I started to google possible causes and came to many conclusions the whole time my mum telling me that it is hereditary as she is also a sufferer (but didn’t show signs as early as I did) and it was passed onto her through my grandad. In simple terms Androgenic Alopecia is caused by a sensitivity to Testosterone or so I have read and was told when I was diagnosed about a year ago.

I could insert some very unflattering photos of what my hair actually looks like but I don’t want to risk completely humiliating myself on the internet. A guy in one of my GCSE classes (without knowing about my condition) pretty much summed it up by saying ‘it’s like your head is too big for your hair’ so I suppose just imagine something like that for now. But if you think you might suffer from something similar and want to talk about it you can always reach me at oliviaagar29@gmail.com

So now I’m going to tell you a bit about how it affects me personally In hopes that you the reader of this can begin to understand or this may answer some of the questions you may have, now this is going to be very frank and honest but this is exactly how I see it:

The paranoia of people laughing behind me drives me insane, my lack of hair is very visible from the back especially if I have my hair down but this is very rare now as I am acutely aware of how it looks. I tend to only have it down if I’m with my family, at home, or having a day where I’m fed up of not feeling normal teenage girl, I lie to myself and say it looks okay when really I know I’ll spend the rest of the day trying to cover up the worse areas, hoping it’s not windy and that no one notices.

Now some people are probably thinking it’s just hair. Well it is just hair, that is until it starts getting taken away from you. And for me personally having long thick nice hair is a very feminine trait and I can’t help feel like I’m having my femininity taken away from me. It’s something that up until that point, you take for granted because it’s always been there.

This leads me onto my next point, now you could say this is very vain but it’s the society that we live in. Having nice hair is one of the things that other people are attracted to and I don’t have that ‘luxury’. I guess what I’m trying to say is that losing my hair has destroyed my confidence, I was never the most outgoing person growing up but my hair has completely hindered my confidence. In all honesty I don’t think I could ever feel completely confident in my own body, I don’t think I could ever truly love myself. And if you don’t love yourself then how can you expect someone else to love you? And as a self-confessed hopeless romantic this thought tears me apart.

‘Why don’t you wear a wig?’ Now you tell me, when you’ve had a haircut do people often notice? I’ll take that as a yes. Now explain to me how people aren’t gonna notice that my hair looks at least 3 times as thick, is probably a slightly different colour, texture and length. I can’t exactly just say I had a haircut when it’s clear I suddenly have more hair. My fear is that everyone will know. My other issue with wigs is if I were to start wearing one, how do I eventually tell future friends, partners, etc.. that I wear one? What if they reject me? Some people would argue that those people were clearly not worth it then. But do I really want to put myself through the unnecessary rejection and humiliation? No, definitely not. And thirdly I think I would cry every night if I had to come home after feeling on cloud nine, take off my wig and face what really reflects back at me in the mirror.

Bright overhead lighting and bathroom lighting will always be my nemesis.

I don’t want to see what my hair looks like from the back when I go to the hairdressers because I don’t want to leave feeling like s**t.

Out of respect please don’t tell me how annoying your thick hair is because unfortunately I’ll never have any sympathy for you.

My most common thought everyday is about my hair and some nights I cry myself to sleep over it.

I’m so jealous of most people my age who don’t have to worry about hair loss and how they take this for granted.

I don’t want you to take my picture because I know I will always look bald in it and nothing you say will ever change that feeling. When I take selfies it’s always in dim lighting and I always crop my hairline out because I don’t want everyone to see what I see all the time.

‘Can’t you get a hair transplant?’ No, that can only be done if you’ve gone bald in a specific area and you have hair follicles elsewhere that you can spare, I have neither of those.

Sometimes I joke about going bald because it’s the only thing that stops me from crying in front of other people.

I have real selfish moments of ‘why is this happening to me?’ ‘I’m a good person, blah, blah, blah..’ It’s then when I have to remind myself that I’m not dying and this condition doesn’t affect my health.

Is there a cure? No…there’s not. You can’t really fight your genes, no miracle cream is going to give me a full head of hair. I don’t know how much I’ll lose or how quickly it’ll happen, it’s unlikely it’ll grow back, all I can do is try slow it down. But this is how it is.

Sometimes I have thoughts of cutting it all off and not leaving the house until it grows back but I remind myself it’s a ridiculous idea.

I’m scared that if one day I am lucky enough to have kids of my own I’ll pass this onto them and they’ll be forced into feeling the same way I do, and I wouldn’t wish this feeling of constant paranoia and feelings of low self-worth on anyone.

So there we go, that was a bit of an insight into my thoughts. Next I thought I’d talk about the products I use:

  • Well firstly I should probably mention that I take iron tablets (the GP first thought a lack of iron might be the cause) and a vegetarian supplement.
  • The Elvive Fibrology Shampoo, Conditioner and Thickness Booster every time I wash my hair. Do I feel like it really makes a difference? No, but I’m scared that if I stop using it  more hair will fall out.
  • After washing my hair I spray it with Elvive Fibrology Double Elixir.
  • Occasionally I’ll also use the hair mask from the same range.
  • I also use half a capful of Regaine foam every night on my scalp, again I’m scared what will happen if I stop using it.
  • I’ve also tried Alpecin caffeine shampoo ad serum/tonic and also the female version of Alpecin (Plantur 39), I don’t think either really did anything for me.

Here’s a couple of links with a bit more information on AA:

http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/hair-loss/hair-loss-types#1

https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/androgenetic-alopecia#genes

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1070167-overview#a2

So that was a very truthful account of my experience with Androgenic Alopecia, if you take anything away from this please just let it be that you don’t take what you naturally have for granted.

As always, your favourite slap head. (That’s the humour trying to kick in!)

Olivia x

 

 

 

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14 thoughts on “I’m losing my hair…

  1. Although I don’t suffer from alopecia, my wife has Alopecia Totalis. It started off very slowly, hair loss every day for months and months. Very stressful for her. In the end she decided (not an easy decision) to shave her head and I think it was the best decision she’s made. She looks great. She would love to have her hair back but there has been such a positive reaction from friends that it has eased her worries to some extent. I’ve been watching the Olympics and noticed that Joanna Rowsell, Team GB cyclist has alopecia. It started with her at age 10. Here’s a link from 2012 when Joanna won a Gold medal. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-surrey-19133686. There- no sympathy, just positive thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Pete, thanks for commenting! Your wife sounds like a really brave lady. And it’s lovely to hear that she’s had so much support. Yes! I’ve been watching the Olympics too and noticed Joanna, it’s great to see sufferers of Alopecia on tv and hopefully it helps to ‘normalise’ it a bit more and make it less of a taboo. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can completely relate to what your saying, but firstly you have so much courage to write what you did, I’ve spent all my life hiding and denying the fact I have Alopecia. I hope your hair grows back or you find a solution you are comfortable with. Be brave, you’re young embrace it and fulfil your life’s goals and dreams what ever size or shape.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so sorry you’re losing your hair. Hair loss is tough on anyone, but I think it’s children and teenagers who probably suffer the most because other kids and teens will be particularly cruel. And obviously it’s tough to ‘lose your looks’ (sorry about the choice of words) at such a young age.

    I too am an alopecia sufferer. I haven’t had any issues with hair loss in four years, before that it was different. When alopecia struck me for the first time, I lost 80% of the hair on my head and 95% of all other hair (including my eyelashes!) within just under two months. I had to wear headscarves after two weeks – that’s when I had several bald patches the size of pocket mirrors. I went on to wear wigs quickly. And I hated them. WInd is a big issue. And so is sweating.

    Oh, and It didn’t help me when several dermatologists told me that my hair loss was the worst they’ve ever seen, and when I became a ‘guinea pig’ and some kind of a science object to a handful of med students who examined me but then talked about me and my condition like I was not even in the room.

    I know what it’s like going from a full head of hair to basically no hair in a really short time. And I know what it’s like to have zero regrowth for about two and a half years. I know what it’s like spending every minute either crying or researching hair loss on the internet. I also know what it’s like being worried that other people will stare at your hair (or the lack of it) and talk about you. And let’s be honest, people do stare and talk. I started to ‘check’ other people’s hair (never in a judgmental way – but I had to ‘compare’ and see what’s different between their hair and mine) when I had my first bout of alopecia. And I still ‘check’ everyone’s hair. I think I’ll always do that. So I can fully appreciate how horrible it must be for you.

    In regards to the doctor stuff, I couldn’t possibly comment on your GP, but I don’t see how iron would help lower your androgen levels. Low iron/ferritin can cause hair loss all over because in this case the body will use the little iron it has for more important body functions than for growing hair and nails – but this has nothing to do with androgenetic alopecia. And what if you have PCOS? This is linked to androgenetic hair loss. Has this been checked? Whilst I’m no doctor, if I were you I would go back and demand blood tests (thyroid!), an ultrasound and a referral to a specialist so they can check out what’s wrong and discuss your options. You might also want to consider taking the pill – but always check with a doctor first. If you decide to take pill, make sure you drink plenty of fluids!!

    So yeah, get in touch with your GP. And convince your mum to make a fuss if the doctor is just trying to fob you off with iron pills and the likes. Because if you have a treatable underlying condition, time is of the essence. And if there’s no treatable underlying condition, you still have your answer and you don’t have to worry about ‘what if’. And keep using the Regaine. You may have to use it for life – but if it helps, it’s certainly better than popping pills or getting injections and suffering unpleasant side effects (been there!).

    I’ve done a lot of research into hair loss and all the time I didn’t spend crying I was online, talking to other sufferers, or challenging doctors. It took me a while to figure out what caused my hair loss – because I made the mistake of trusting the doctors at my former GP practice more than I trusted my own internet research – and my gut. Literally, my gut. I suspected that gluten might have triggered my alopecia. I found out that research has shown that people who have certain auto-immune conditions are more likely to have certain other auto-immune conditions because of a defect on a certain gene. I remember alopecia, celiac and Sjogren’s are linked. I also wouldn’t be surprised if I’m diagnosed with Sjogren’s at some point. I don’t know too much about this condition but one of the tell-tale signs is that sufferers can’t produce tears – like me… Anyway… I ended up going private (!) for a gut biopsy – which revealed that I had celiac disease – just as I expected!
    I appreciate that my diagnosis won’t help you, but I wanted to say that if I had trusted the doctors (who were all wrong), I’d probably still sit in front of the computer – essentially hairless – poisoning myself with gluten, crying and trying to find out what’s wrong with me. So please, please, please exhaust all your options! In the meantime, try to keep your spirits up. I think you’re dealing with your hair loss in a remarkable way – much better than many adults would! I was a wreck for years. I didn’t really live. I just functioned. But your mental strength is incredible! Keep it up and don’t let the hair loss beat you. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, firstly thank you so much for commenting! I can’t imagine how awful it must of been to lose that much hair but I’m glad that you’ve had it come back! I know what you mean by checking too, when I’m out I’m always looking at other people’s hair and comparing it to mine.

      Yeah when I first starting losing hair I did consider PCOS but you’re right, I think I’m gonna go back to the doctors and see if anything else can be done. I was on the pill for a few months and found it didn’t really make a difference, in fact I was a bit concerned about taking it because a potential (rare) side effect can be hair loss and I certainly didn’t want more of that!

      Also the iron tablets were a bit of a precaution I think, what with being a vegetarian. It wasn’t until I suggested that it might be genetic did they refer me to a dermatologist.

      Oh dear! But yeah I’ll definitely stick with the Regaine because I at least have to be doing something to try and save the hair I have.

      Okay wow, yeah I’ll have to do some more digging and see if the hair loss is potentially related to anything else!

      Aww, thank you for telling me your story and for your words of encouragement, it means a lot!! xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much, hun!! xoxo
        And I really meant what I said about you. 🙂

        I’m glad to hear you’ve looked into several options already. I’m a vegetarian too, so I know that iron intake can be a problem. But there’s one more thing that usually effects vegetarians, that often goes hand in hand with iron deficiency, AND is commonly missed by doctors – vitamin B12 deficiency. It took my former GP practice more than 3 three years to actually test me for it…

        Whilst beans, nuts and certain green leafy vegetables contain iron, B12 can ONLY be obtained from animal sources. And a B12 deficiency can actually cause hair loss (and can lead to quite serious health issues). I used to get monthly B12 injections (due to my having Celiac disease I had trouble absorbing any nutrients for a while) but I’ve now switched to a vegetarian, cheap (but made in the UK!) skin/hair/nails supplement (Home Bargains, 40 pills for £1.29) which gives me iron, vitamin E, D, B12, B6, folic acid, zinc and many other important vitamins and minerals. When you go back to your doctor, ask them to check whether you have a B12 deficiency as well. Don’t assume you’re getting enough B12 because you eat eggs and cheese and drink milk (I’m just guessing you eat/drink these) because B12 absorption is an art form itself.

        Again, I’m no doctor, but as a fellow (former) female hair loss sufferer I just want you to look into everything and make sure you get the best possible care. It could be a common vitamin or mineral deficiency – but considering your age it might just as well be hormonal. Whatever it really turns out to be, I so hope the underlying condition (if there is one) can be treated and your hair loss can be reversed.

        One more thing! I don’t know if any doctor has ever told you this, but one dermie once said something to me and it made a huge difference… so here it is: It’s not your fault!

        Stay strong and keep me (or us, your readers) updated. If you want to talk, let me know. xoxo

        Liked by 1 person

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