My name is Kurtis. I am 31 years old live in Bristol. I have alopecia universalis and was first diagnosed at the age of 24.
I grew up in an inner city area of Bristol called Easton and at the tender age of 4, I was a regular at the barbershop, where I would have my hair cut at least once a fortnight. The barbershop would always be full, with males from all different ages. It was the barbershop that taught me how to conduct myself as a young man as I would listen to them swap stories about past events. I always thought it was important to keep my hair groomed and my barber would always ask me how I would like my hair to be cut and I would always try to be as creative as ever so that I could stand out amongst my friends "I thrived on making an impression". At the age of 24, whilst looking into the mirror and telling myself that I am due another haircut, I noticed a small patch amongst my re-growing hair, the patch was no bigger than a 1 pence coin.
I was puzzled where the patch had come from. I decided that I was not going to cut my hair and instead I simply let it grow and see if the patch would disappear. Not even a week later, I noticed that I also had a small bold patch in the middle of my beard. At this point I knew I was about to experience a change but nothing could prepare me for what was to come. Within a few more weeks, I started to lose part of my left eyebrow, I started to wear hats everywhere as my hair continued to fall out. Even to the nightclubs that I would regularly attend. People would approach me and ask "Why are you allowed to keep your hat on"? I would simply shrug and give them a cool response. I wasn't about to tell anybody what I was going through. I just kept praying that my hair would grow back so that I could start acting normal again. Alopecia was rapidly wiping off all of my facial hair and at this point I was completely bald. My girlfriend (who is now my fianceť) and my mother became my rock as I began to open up to them about how I was feeling and what I was experiencing. I decided to tell a few close friends about what was happening to me, although my confidence was shattered, they neither laughed at me or made any jokes. This made me feel comfortable to be around them. By summer 2010 I had completely lost all the hair on my entire body. I was unrecognisable to myself and to the people who knew me. A lot of people assumed that I undergoing chemotherapy. I was too embarrassed at the time to even give them a reply. I became more sensitive, which made me feel vulnerable. I got rid of all the mirrors in my room. For years I
My doctor diagnosed me with Alopecia Universalis, I had never even heard of the word "Universalis" and I had no idea what this meant. My doctor had no idea either I continued to bombard her with question after question "Have I inherited Alopecia Universalis? Is it due to stress? Have I burnt myself out?Ē As sympathetic as she was my GP had no answers for me, I waited months to receive my dermatologist referral letter and during this period I was frantically looking on the internet for regrowth stories of those who had/have alopecia.
My girlfriend and I, had a list of questions written down which we were going to ask the dermatologist. On my arrival he asked me a few questions, then he checked me over and within the first 5 minutes of the appointment he informed me that there was no treatments for me, he didnít think anything would work and he thought it highly unlikely my hair would ever grow back. The appointment lasted no longer than 20 minutes but the minute he uttered those words my thoughts had already left the room. "How am I going to face people on a day to day basis looking like this? What will my colleagues say at work? What will my answer be to those who question how I look?Ē I began to shy myself away from any and everybody.
My biggest struggle with alopecia has been accepting how I now look and what has happened to me. Having to deal with people asking me questions about my condition has been really tough. Many health conditions are internal but there is no hiding away from alopecia. I really dislike being stared at and unfortunately I have been humiliated on more than one occasion, so I tend to avoid big social groups where there is a lot of drinking involved.
However, I have turned a corner and am more confident these days. I donít judge others for what they look like but for who they are. Alopecia has helped me to realise that self value comes from within. I am honest with myself everyday. Although I may look different I take pride in this, not just because of how I look but because of my outlook on life. I have been on a soul searching journey for the past 6 years re-discovering myself and alopecia has strengthened my character. Having alopecia doesnít stop me from being the best that I can be.
I am now happy to educate others about alopecia and offer comfort to others who have lost their hair. I am evidence that it does get easier.