My name is Ruth and I live in Scotland. I am 52 years old and was diagnosed with alopecia totalis last year.
I have had a few small patches of baldness before but they were never visible and didn't bother me. However last July I noticed quite a big bald patch. Then, in September, I suddenly noticed that my hair was falling out by the handful. It was all gone in just 10 days.
I felt absolutely devastated. I felt out of control. I felt as though my life was slipping away from me. I was determined that there must be a reason or a cause and I was going to fight back. Although part of me felt shame or guilt in some way, another part was convinced I should be up front and bold.
My experience with my GP wasnít good. I was told there was nothing they could do and that they believed it was caused by stress, something everyone else was telling me too!
My dermatology appointment didnít offer much more hope. I was told that I was looking Ďreally wellí. I explained I was trying an autoimmune diet. He wasnít interested or encouraging. He did offer steroid injections but after he explained that there was no guarantee they would work, I turned them down. Other than that, I was offered a wig.
The rapid nature of my hair loss, losing it all in just 10 days, was a difficult thing to deal with. I felt like crying whenever I showed people my head. My eyelashes and eyebrows gradually fell out within a further month.
My biggest struggle was the general sense of loss and trauma. Looking at myself in the mirror and not recognising the face staring back Ė it felt alien to me.
The love and support of my husband, daughter and friends have helped me through. Having dinner parties, that end up being wig fests for everyone, allow us to have some fun. Doing activities, like riding, where nobody pays attention to how you look has helped me. I have also pushed myself to go out bald (which Iíve only done in small ways) but it has helped to build my confidence.
I think itís important to treat hair loss like a bereavement and be given the space and care from others in the same way. I went skiing this year and when I arrived I cried for 3 days and did not feel like dashing down the mountain. My advice to others going through the same is to listen to yourself and be gentle.