Alopecia can be a particularly distressing disease for women. Partial or total hair loss, with the possibility of no effective treat can have profound and life changing psychological effects as the sufferer feels, a lack of self-esteem, reduced confidence and in some cases shame.
In a blog in the Huffington Post, Sienna Brown, a black entrepeneur recounts her experience of the auto immune disease and how she came to terms with it
Shock and fear
Initially she tells of her shock and fear as huge clumps of seemingly healthy hair started to come away from her scalp with ease, provoking morbid thoughts about chronic illness and death.
It was only after she’d overcome the initial shock that she began seeking medical advice and, after a number of appointments and tests was diagnosed with alopecia. In her case it left her with a completely bald head.
Her response to this total hair losswas heartening and she points to it being a hardship that has allowed her to re-evaluate her life. Philosophically she states that everything happens to us for a reason “whether we’re supposed to learn about ourselves through the situation or inspire others with our story”.
One practical lesson she shares with others is the stigma amongst many black people of asking for help. She points out that sometimes you can’t do everything on your own and that sometimes it might be terrifying seeking out professional advice, rather than just googling but it does ultimately bring security and allows you to feel better.
Getting back in control after total hair loss
Most importantly to Sienna she talks of how total hair loss has taught her to be comfortable in her own skin. Once the “wave of insecurity” had passed she found the inner confidence to realise that beauty radiates from within and that she would “slay” no matter what.
By shaving off the last few strands of hair she had she felt back in control of the situation and had chosen not to hide behind a mask.
As she concludes “You are not your hair. There is so much more to your intricate beautiful self than what lies on your head”.