You’re likely wondering: “How else can a person like her not be positive? She has everything in life including a good family, expanding work opportunities, two degrees under her belt, good health, free time and vacation time, close friends, and very few worries. How else can she not be positive?” Well, I’m not flawless; nobody is. I have Alopecia.
Alopecia is a rare and generally harmless condition where hair on different parts of the body stops growing. Mine has stopped growing in large areas of my scalp. My doctor used to say that alopecia is a genetic disorder, and cannot really be explained. My parents and my brothers all have full heads of hair, so it is beyond explanation why mine has stopped growing, Some alopecia is caused by stress or sickness and can be reversed, but mine is the disorder itself where my hair refuses to grow, despite many medicines, supplements, solutions, herbs that I have tried for decades. Some studies show that some women with alopecia suddenly grow their hair back during pregnancy, but of course, I have yet to see that happen to me (get pregnant). Alopecia is also an auto-immune disease where the reason why hair stops growing is because my body thinks that my hair is a foreign, harmful object, and thus attacks it before it can even grow.
Other than the loss of my hair, I am perfectly healthy, so I really have nothing to complain about. I was diagnosed with alopecia as a teenager, about fifteen years old, but back then, my hair was just thinning out unexplainably. My parents took me to various doctors. We had many medicines and tests. People gave suggestions. My hair continued to thin out and stop growing entirely.
circa 2008, with my hair pulled back. Derma advised me to go short, but still, the thinning shows. The smile doesn't fade, though!
In 2010, a few months after I decided to wear real-hair wigs as much of my hair had already stopped growing, I finally decided to shave the remaining hair off.
In church, with mom and my friends, Ate Mila and Ate Gerlyn from NextGen
There was no point in having patches of hair and baldness. I had been wanting to shave it all off for a while anyway, and I wanted to do it for myself, as a sign of courage. My yougest brother encouraged and strengthened me. When I came out in public bald, some people applauded my courage, some were uncomfortable with it, but mostly, I was just happy to have done it, to be free from hair that refused to grow anyway.
Letting it go, even before Elsa sang about it!
After a few months going around as a skinhead, I decided that I and many of my close friends had been used to it enough and I returned to wearing my human hair wig. Going bald was one of the most liberating experiences in my life, but I needed hair to keep warm, to protect my head, and also to keep people from staring at me and making me an easy target when I travel alone.
At UP Technohub, having my first photo op with my new hair. This photo got a lot of likes.
I have been wearing my wigs since 2010. They are quite expensive, but very comfortable. I sometimes even forget that I am actually wearing real, human-hair wigs and not hair that grows on its own, from my scalp.
I rarely talk about my condition. Before I began wearing my wigs, only those close to me looked beyond my thinning hair and chose not to talk about it. I always felt that people who looked beyond my hair and accepted me as a healthy, intelligent individual were the ones worth talking to. It was I who broached the topic with the people who didn’t nose around, didn’t ask rude questions. I would choose to tell them my story as i am now telling you.
On the other hand, I learned early on that the curious and the tongue-waggers would always ask questions and pretend to want to help me with my condition. I often secretly rolled my eyes at them, always avoided their questions and curious stares. You wouldn’t stare at a person who has lost his leg, wouldn’t ask someone how he became blind. In fact, it is just rude to stare and to ask questions that do not concern you. It should be the same for people with alopecia. I have learned that the best way to help someone with alopecia or any physical condition at all, is to accept them without prejudice.
I am quite a positive person, really, and for the longest time, it was my family who was hurt more by my alopecia than I was. I used to have a full, healthy head of hair, but after puberty, things changed and I had to find ways to accept it. Most of all, my family had to find ways. We have tried many “miracle cures”, drugs, pills, herbs, lotions, potions. Truth be told, (genetic) alopecia has no real cure except for acceptance, a healthy diet, and a positive outlook. Hair is really just cosmetic, aside from something that protects your scalp and keeps your head warm.
Look at me with lots of hair. I really love braids. I still do.
My parents wish I had more hair (for my sake), and my brothers, both of whom have full, healthy heads of hair, all wish the condition had gone to them instead as bald men, or men in skinheads are generally more accepted by society. But no, the condition is on me, a woman. I have no hair, or very little of it, and society lauds a woman who has long, shiny, healthy hair. But I despair not. In fact, my family tends to forget nowadays that I am now completely bald. It is a funny thing, really. I make jokes about it. Better to accept it than to mope around negatively. It’s just hair anyway. Despite popular belief that a healthy head of hair signals health, my having alopecia does not render me unhealthy. I still have a healthy body, an active mind, and my limbs, my organs are complete. Some people have it worse and if they can still be positive, why can’t I?
After a run at Luneta Park, one of the many runs I would take to inspire my friends and family to be fit.
I still don’t talk about it though, just like I wouldn’t dwell on things I cannot change, but my alopecia is not a secret. I just feel that only those who do not ask deserve to know why I am bald, why I believe I am stronger than most people, and the real reasons why I am so positive. This is one of them.
Swimming hair-free and getting a scalp massage as a skinhead? Just two of the 'perks' of alopecia.
Alopecia is an illness, yes, but it is quite harmless, both for myself and for those I love.
2014. Longer hair! ^_^
I could have had something worse, but I believe God allowed me this because my spirit can handle it. I have dealt with alopecia most of my life, and I am quite happy, thankful, and hopeful in spite of my lack of hair. As I hope you have noticed, I have never allowed my condition to affect my relationships, my work, and my productivity, my faith in God. In fact, ever since I was diagnosed, I’ve always felt that this verse was meant for me: Luke 12:7
Counted! So God knows that my hair has stopped growing, too!
All my close friends, family, and even those who have loved me (and whom I have loved) know about my condition. I am loved and accepted beyond belief, and for that, I am thankful. Alopecia or not, I can become the person I truly am.