Alopecia Round 2

By Jason Colmer

Ding Ding, Round 2. Beginning my second year with Alopecia and as you’ll recall from my article this time last year, I was dreading the summer. Well, here we are. May, soon to be British summer time. I thought I would give you an update on my progress and the ways of dealing with the effects of Alopecia, not only on my head but also in my head.

Guess what! Im still not on the presenters couch and i’m still in the shadow of my former self. One good thing is that I don’t have to wear my hood up everywhere anymore, I have discovered that I do in fact suit a hat, more so now that its summer. FINALLY! Last year, I recall strolling into a shop back in Plymouth and the guard stopped me and said “remove your hood”. I remember thinking, ‘another man is wearing his hood up so what is the issue?’. But instead of confrontation over something I am clearly sensitive about, I simply refused and muttered under a shy breath ‘I cant, I have Alopecia’. To my embarrassment her reply was ‘Oh, Ill have to check with the store manager’. As if I wasn’t trying to draw attention to my head by wearing a hood anyway. I slowly sulked into the background and disappeared into the shop before she could return.

[Brighton Pier, July 2016]
1 in 50 will suffer from Alopecia at some point in their life so it was interesting to speak to Dan Thomas, a student who suffers with Alopecia that developed at a very young age. I use the term ‘suffer’ lightly, as Dans attitude towards it is quite the contrary.”Im just used to it now, the way I see it, Ive got a haircut that no-one can copy, i’ve got my own unique style” he laughs. Alopecia has affected Dan and myself in completely different ways. I look in the mirror every morning and run and sharp razor across my scalp, shaving the backs and sides down to perfect baldness. It has also given me symptoms of anxiety and depression, especially earlier on in the process. The NHS website details this affect, ‘Hair loss can be difficult to come to terms with. The hair on your head can be a defining part of your identity. If you start to lose your hair, it can feel as if you’re losing part of your identity. This can affect your self-confidence and sometimes lead to depression‘. Due to the emotional trauma it can cause, there are societies available to offer advice and support for any individuals effected by alopecia. 

[Dartmoor Zoo, August 2016]
When it first started, my GP googled ‘Alopecia Areata‘. A part of me died inside, it was clear I wasn’t going to get a ‘quick fix’ solution for this difficult autoimmune disorder. Nine months later, i’m sat in a Specialist’ waiting room with my GP, Dr Woodford, a trainee sat next to her taking notes while trying her hardest to look friendly not sympathetic. They offered me a course of steroid ointment and if that fails, scalp injections. A painful procedure that they don’t offer to the general Alopecia sufferer. I declined as its improving slowly, my hat is enough to keep my insecurities at bay. Out of sight, out of my mind. Maybe i’ll see you next year for Round 3 (But I hope not).