When faced with something like alopecia, some people find that thoughts pop into their head which arenít always accurate, and when challenged can be shown to be misguided. It is a perfectly normal and a common reaction to an unusual or new situation. But without challenging them they can lead people to find it harder to cope with their situation. It is important to remember that you might have been having unhelpful thoughts for a very long time and it can take a lot of practice to start spotting when they pop into your head.
Here are some examples of the type of unhelpful thoughts that have been put up on our own or other discussion boards, together with ways of challenging them:
Everyone is staring at me. If I havenít got hair then I canít be attractive. I will never get another boy/girlfriend. People are laughing at me.
The truth is that none of these thoughts are likely to be accurate. Stop and think about each of them. Is everyone staring at you? Some people might have a fleeting moment of registering that there is someone near them who has a bald/patchy head. They double take Ė has that poor person got cancer? And then they move on to the rest of their day. They are unlikely even to remember that they saw you later in the day. They didnít `stare', they checked what they thought was an unusual situation. Some may stare, and they are definitely in the minority by a long way. And it is a problem they have got Ė not one you have!
Are you unattractive? There is a successful model with alopecia totalis who models sometimes without a wig. She is very attractive. She was always very attractive, with or without hair. Some people are more attractive than others. We all deal with it in every day life. Your friends donít find you any less or more attractive with alopecia. New people you meet will get to know you in exactly the same way as they did before.
You know from stories you may have read on this site and others, that people with alopecia do meet partners, get married and have children in exactly the same way as everyone. Has it fundamentally affected their relationships? Has hair loss made a difference? Or, if there is a difference, is it that people with alopecia can sometimes feel depressed in the same way as other people, but with a more obvious trigger? They in fact have variously successful relationships, just like everyone. Alopecia is just one aspect of their person.
And the fact is that people will only laugh at you very, very rarely, if ever. Would you laugh at somebody with a similar problem? Everyone is capable of smiling at, for example, a person wearing a large, very colourful hat, someone with red and white stripey hair, or even a Scotsman in a kilt. It's really no more important than that. Just something a bit unusual, forgotten as soon as the person's out of sight.
The thoughts are understandable because they reflect how you might be feeling. But they arenít rational. And it can be very helpful to try to deal with these thoughts. It might help to talk to friends, or if you think it will be more helpful, ask your doctor to recommend a counsellor with whom you can talk it through. The likelihood is that neither you nor your family and close friends are therapists, and you shouldnít regard any of these tips as a replacement if you feel you need to speak to a professional. Remember that people close to you could be having almost as much trouble as you yourself in coming to terms with alopecia.