My name is Rob. I am 30 years old, live in London and have had alopecia areata for the past two years. I had just had a hair cut and was out with a friend. He pointed at two small bald patches and joked that I should find a new hairdresser. Over the coming weeks I discovered more patches and they continued to grow in size and number. After some googling I realised that it was alopecia. Initially I found it hard and sometimes it left me feeling out of control. Hair is such a key part of our self-identity and losing some of my hair challenged my sense of self and frankly speaking, my vanity. My GP was supportive and prescribed topical steroids and a fungal shampoo. He also did some blood tests. When it became clear that what he had provided wasn't working, he referred me to a consultant. My dermatologist was wonderful and no nonsense. Her straightforward explanation was that our immune system is a bit like the police - sometimes it beats up and imprisons the wrong people (in this case hair follicles) but that we still need our immune system. She offered steroid injections but said there was a limited number of times I could have them and that once the course of treatment was over, the hair loss might return. She also told me that as at the time of my appointment I still had my eyebrows and a complete edge of hair, I may get my hair back. My alopecia is almost entirely on the back of my head in patches, although I do have some small and less-noticeable ones on the top of my head. Over time the patches move and swirl around the back of my head creating different patterns. I've just started a project to get someone to photograph the back of my head every few days to create an artwork of photos over the course of several months. The biggest impact on me has been the feeling of a total lack of control. I was also concerned that it would make me less attractive to people and would make people feel awkward around me. I worried about having to explain it and making other people feel awkward. More recently I have come to see my alopecia as my body's very unique artwork. It moves and swirls and creates new shapes constantly. At least one a month I get compliments about what people think of as a deliberate style choice. I spend quite a lot of time out having fun and dressing up, including by using my patches. The other day I was in a cabaret outfit with a very stylised fake moustache drawn on my lip. I got a friend to draw lots of little matching moustaches in my alopecia patches. Very few other people can do this! My job involves a lot of public speaking, including TV appearances. At first I felt nervous about what people would say or think. But it quickly became apparent that if I didn't make it an issue, others wouldn't. Even though it's regarded by many as a somewhat of a cosmetic condition, I think itís important for those with alopecia to recognise that it's really hard to lose your hair. It's ok to mourn and feel sad and angry and lost. But also realise that the control you do have is how you deal with it. Stand tall, if you can, play with it. Realise it's something unique. Or if youíre not comfortable with your hair loss being visible to others, use it as an opportunity to get some great wigs or headwear. Talk to your friends and family Ė donít shut them out. Talking to others can really help.