real life

'I thought Alopecia had won. Then, after 15 years, I finally shaved my head.'

To shave or not to shave is a question I repeatedly asked myself for months and tried my very hardest to avoid for over 15 years.

I like researching, being prepared and knowing what I’m in for so when it came time to consider if I should shave or not, I read articles, watched YouTube videos and read so many blogs.

Watch: Crazy Hair Day with alopecia. Post continues below. 

Video by Mamamia

I had a whole Pinterest board filled with images of beautiful bald females just to give me a little reassurance that I would still look pretty, feminine and me if I was bald.

The words empowering, liberating, control, freeing and relief were repeatedly used on social media to describe shaving one’s hair. But honestly, I didn’t feel any of those emotions for months after I did the shave.

Maybe some of those people felt that way because it was a choice, or maybe they wrote their accounts after they had come to terms with it, or maybe their journey was different.

But for me, this wasn’t a choice.

Shaving my hair was losing a lifetime battle.

It felt like I was giving up and giving into the disease.

Alopecia won.

It was a normal day when I finally decided to shave my hair. Nothing out of the ordinary happened, I just got tired of all the panic attacks, feeling self-conscious, anxious and sad all the time.

70 per cent of my hair was gone by this point and I hated that I constantly worried what I looked like and let my hair (or lack of) affect how I lived and what I did with my life.

My housemates did the shave. I wasn’t strong enough to do it myself.

When it did happen, I was in shock. I stared blankly ahead with tears silently dripping down my face and I wrapped myself in a little ball on a chair while one of my housemates cut off my ponytail and the other shaved the little hair I had left.

 

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8 May 2020⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣ “What if I told you that what the world needs right now is you – flawed, fumbling, wounded, trying-to-figure-it-all-out you? Because that’s exactly what it needs, you know – more velveteen-real people who are a little worn and a little weary, but who bring a whole lot of warm and welcoming and wonderful to life.”⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ― L.R. Knost⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣ This! This just makes me smile ????⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣ Please know you are enough. You are beautiful. Know that being beautiful is not just about looks but also about who you are as a person and how you make other people feel. That the world is a better place because you are in it. That you are loved. That your smile, your hug or a kind word from you can turn someone’s bad day into a good day. That sometimes our imperfections or the things we have gone through shape us to be the wonderful and warm person we are today.⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣ #thebaldgirldiaries #baldgirl #bald #alopeciaawareness #alopeciasupport #alopeciauniversalis #alopecia #autoimmunedisease #hairlossjourney #hairloss #dontjudgeabookbyitscover #rockthebaldlook #thisisme #bareitall #shave #beautiful #wonderful #smile #enough #beauty #imperfections

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I collapsed on the floor, I hyperventilated, and I burst out into tears the first time I saw my reflection. I just couldn’t stop crying.

I avoided the mirror for weeks after it happened and when I did see my reflection it was like a stranger was staring back at me. I couldn’t recognise myself.

For months I couldn’t look in a mirror without tears in my eyes and I cried myself to sleep more times than I can count.

I was so focused on what I had lost, that I couldn’t appreciate or see what I still had or what I had overcome.

But despite all the above, I wish I did it sooner because now I do feel all of those emotions and so much more. It just took me a little time to get there.

I don’t cry myself to sleep at night. I don’t have panic attacks every time I walk outside the house. I smile when I look in the mirror. I’m happy that my hair doesn’t dictate my life.

It’s a relief to not have to fight Alopecia. To stop all the harsh treatments. I get to focus on myself and who I am as a person rather than focus on what I look like. I get to play with wigs and different looks. I’m proud to rock the bald look.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I still feel sad about losing my hair and frustrated by Alopecia, but most days it’s something I don’t even notice.

If you are going through something similar, I want you to know that the feelings should pass and I hope you have people in your life that constantly remind you that you are beautiful, strong, resilient and you are more than your hair or looks, because you are.

This post has been expanded and republished from Instagram with full permission. For more from Sarah, follow her @thebaldgirldiaries.

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