I developed alopecia areata 7 years ago. AA is an autoimmune disease which causes patchy baldness. It’s not clear what triggers the condition in some people but once it’s triggered, it’s virtually impossible to un-trigger. There’s no safe effective treatment.
When I first developed AA, I started wearing a wig to hide it. People affected by AA and other forms of alopecia can go through a rollercoaster of emotions such as denial, sadness, anger, acceptance and (at least for me) even gratitude. Gratitude that it only affects my hair and that I can still do all the things I enjoy like working, riding my bike, hiking a trail and climbing a mountain.
Even after I accepted my condition, in an effort to feel “normal”, I continued to wear a wig to work. I treated it like an accessory… like a pretty scarf, jewelry or make-up. I had nice wigs and I think most people didn’t realize I was wearing a prosthetic but I still had mixed emotions. The choice to wear a wig is complicated by our society that puts a great emphasis on physical appearances.
During a recent multi-day wilderness hike in Maine, I came to the realization that hiding my condition is just not important to me anymore! I feel comfortable with my shaved head and it’s the right decision for me now.
September is Alopecia Awareness Month