My name is Bex. Iím 25 and live in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire. I have Androgenetic Alopecia and was first diagnosed when I was 19.
I think I was around 15 or 16 when I first noticed my hair was getting quite thin to a point where I was noticing my scalp. I pushed it to the side for a while and put it down to itís just being Ďnaturally thin.í
A few years went by and as I got older I started to notice it more. I could see my scalp through my hair. I remember it was one summer when I was out and about, by the time I got home my scalp had got burned and I knew I had to go to the doctors about it.
I canít say I had a good experience with the GP. He told me he would send me for blood tests and a consultation with the Dermatologist because he thought it was Alopecia which was fine but then he said something which I would never forget, ĎItís a shame youíre not blonde because it wouldnít show as much.í I couldnít believe how insensitive he could have been in that moment of time after telling me he thought I had Androgenetic Alopecia.
After the Dermatologist confirmed the diagnosis of Androgenetic Alopecia with no chance of hair growing back I didnít take it well. On the outside for a while I looked fine but on the inside I was upset and hurting. I couldnít accept I had it, even when I got a hair system and people would tell me nobody could notice it didnít matter because I still knew!
I have always suffered with anxiety but that plummeted to an all new low. My self-esteem was dwindling speedily and I started to find solace in alcohol. I drank more and more as time went on, with that I isolated myself and began to put on a of load weight. Denial kicked in big time. When I would drink, which was often, I would always cry to my parents ĎWhy me?, Why my hair?, Iím ugly!í There were nights my mum would sleep next to me to make sure I hadnít harmed myself or I was still breathing.
It was when I had hit rock bottom that I realised I needed to change. Starting with the drinking I self-referred myself to DDAS (Dyfed Drug and Alcohol Service). The help and support I have had and still having from them has been immense. When I felt I was alone and nobody could help me, they saved me. Iíve been sober for months and having continued support from people who genuinely want to help and they go above and beyond even helping with my confidence and anxiety. I owe DDAS so much and from the bottom of my heart I am truly grateful to them.
Once the alcohol stopped I turned to try and work on myself. I had put on at least 4stone of weight and my self-esteem was non-existent. I knew I needed motivation so I got myself an amazing Personal Trainer. At 19st 5lbs it was a tough journey ahead but he has been so encouraging, teaching me kickboxing (which I now have my first belt in), circuit training and toning all of which I could apply to training at home also. 5 months later Iím 2lbs away from losing 5st, Iím weighing 14st 7lbs and my self-esteem has boosted to an all-new high.
Now to work on finally accepting my Alopecia. I was looking for support online and came across Alopecia UK and found they also have a Facebook group which I joined and havenít looked back since. I wasnít alone anymore; I found others who supported each other. With my new found confidence I started to open up more to people, accepting this was a part of who I am. I embraced the support and even put a picture in the group of me without my hair system because no matter what ĎI am beautifulí.
Thank you to everyone at Alopecia UK for all your kind words and support.
I have Androgenetic Alopecia, I accept it!, I embrace it! I found light when there was so much dark for a long time. For anyone struggling, please know that there is support, you are beautiful. Donít give up, fight for your happiness.
I also want to thank my family who stuck by me, didnít give up on me and I know are very proud of me today.
Thank you to Bex for sharing her story. If you live in the UK and would like to join Alopecia UK's closed Facebook group, click here to request to join.