I was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata in 2012. Here’s what I can tell you about it.
Alopecia Is a Form of Hair Loss
It’s not life-threatening or anything, but it can definitely cause lots of mental health issues.
I felt awful when I lost my hair in 2012. It was a difficult period of my life, and it took me ages until I learn how to deal with the situation. Now I finally comfortable to talk about it and share my Alopecia experience with the world.Alopecia can lead to depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. #alopecia #alopeciaareata #hairloss Click To Tweet
My Alopecia Story
Let’s go back in time. That way, you can see how I looked before all started.
The picture below was taken in February 2012, and just in case you’re wondering, the beautiful woman standing next to me is Anna Pazdro, my partner and the mother of my children. At the time, I had strong and healthy curly hair. I’m half African so strong hair runs in the family.
In October 2012 things changed. As you can see in the picture below a little patch appeared on my chin. Apologies for the quality of the pictures on this blog post, but at least you can see, first hand, my Apolicia story.
I had great eyebrows, didn’t I? Well, that didn’t last forever.
For over a year, there weren’t a lot of visible changes however, as you can see, my facial hair continued to fall. At this point, there were several patches on my face and they were also bigger.
I’m not sure when I’ve decided to go to the GP but I can say for sure that at the time this picture was taken, I was already diagnosed.
The GP identified the patches very quickly. Told me that I had Alopecia Areata.
The first thing I did was search on Google for Alopecia Areata. I wanted to see pictures of other people with the same health issue. I was gobsmacked.
The last think I wanted was to look like these people.
I was concerned with what others might think.
What would people say? Point fingers at me? Think that I have cancer?
I couldn’t imagine what would be like to walk the streets with all those patches on my scalp.
Until now, the patches didn’t bother me that much because they were all in my head. But things changed.
When the first patches appeared in my scalp, I couldn’t help but feel depressed. When I walked outdoors, I always had the feeling that everyone was looking at me. Even though that wasn’t the case. The patched got bigger and bigger, and I knew that I had no choice but to shave my head. I was the hardest decision ever. It felt like losing my identity.
Can you imagine yourself bald? Probably not.
I had to go through with it. Finally, I shaved my head. I had to because I couldn’t hide the patches anymore, so I went to a barber one morning and just did it.
I still remember the feeling.
Before the cut, I was nervous – seriously. After, I was relieved. The reality is that I didn’t look that bad. It took me some time to get used to it, but the truth is that men shave their heads. I wasn’t the first and definitely not the last.
The hardest part was to come clean to family, friends, colleagues, and the worst part, the world. For a long time, all I could think about was what others were thinking about me.
My image completely changed. That wasn’t easy. People that didn’t see me in a long time wouldn’t recognise me.
In 2015, I realised that Alopecia isn’t a life-threatening despise, and for that, I should be grateful. Alopecia affects people psychologically, yes, but once you accept it for what it is, it becomes just a cosmetic issue.
Millions of man suffer with hair loss, most when they reach their 30s but for some that happens much earlier in their life. To me, it happened in a slightly different way, but that’s just life isn’t it?
At some point, I can’t remember exactly when I started a YouTube channel showing the results of the treatments that I tried. My videos were all in Portuguese so I will not share them here
There are several treatments for Alopecia, including lotions, steroid injections and natural teas.
I tried everything, but unfortunately nothing worked for me.
The good news is that for most people Alopecia Areata is temporary – some will not even notice because they only lose hair in their arms or legs and after 3 to 6 months everything goes back to normal.
Anyway, the YouTube channel experience made me realise that I am very lucky. I have a supportive family and I am a man.
Something interesting happened:
My videos reached hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. Many viewers sent supportive messages, and others sent their own Alopecia stories.
I realised that I was helping people and so having Alopecia is maybe an opportunity to become a better person.
Alopecia Awareness Became a Mission
- I spoke with young girls that are going through the same. Made them smile and help them realise that looks are not what makes them beautiful.
- I spoke with a mum but was deeply depressed because her children feel ashamed of how mum looks. She called me many times just so that she wouldn’t feel alone.
- I spoke with men that lost their confidence. I told them about the little girls and made them understand that we’re quite lucky for being men.
- As part of my Alopecia Awareness Mission, I raised money for Alopecia UK.
When I finally thought that everything was under control, my eyelashes started to fall. I didn’t expect that at all. Losing my eyelashes and my eyebrows felt like going back to square one. Losing my hair changed my identity, but this was a lot worst.
Have you seen people without eyelashes and eyebrows? Probably you thought that they were going through chemotherapy. That might not always be the case.
This was probably one of the worst phases of my Alopecia journey. At this point, I was feeling like a weirdo. I didn’t feel good with the way I looked. My eyebrows were falling really quickly, and I had no control over it.
A new David was born. I now looked completely different. I didn’t recognise myself in the mirror. However, I have accepted the disease and the fact that I will probably live with Alopecia Areata for the rest of my life.
Filipa, my best friend, visited me and it felt so good to know that I was still the same old David for her. My personality didn’t change, nor did my values or my sense of humour.
I hit rock bottom, not psychologically, but physically.
In September 2015, I didn’t have a single hair in my body, not even in my nostrils.
Breathing became difficult. My nose felt like it was on fire all the time – burning. That’s because my nostrils didn’t have protection against the polluted air and smoke on the streets.
Once again, I had no choice but to get used to it and continue living my life.
It took me a long time, but I finally got back on track and felt like a human again. I was at a wedding in this picture, feeling handsome and not ashamed of my bald head.
I continued to work on my self-esteem. Started to workout (a little) and looked after me. Hair loss is not painful or requires medication – it’s just a bump on the road of life. Get over it, and everything will be fine.
One year has passed, and nothing changed for me, except for the fact that I kept getting older. My hair kept growing and falling.
Alopecia doesn’t stop the hair from growing.
The problem is that the hair keeps falling.
I now know that this is who I am. Alopecia Areata is part of me, and that will never change. I will keep telling everyone what Alopecia is so that when people walk past young hairless girls, don’t assume that they have cancer.
People like me need to be treated normally by others. The worst feeling ever is when someone shows that they’re sorry for me.
Sorry for what?
I am blessed for being healthy and having a beautiful, supportive family. There’s nothing to be sorry about. Please don’t show that you feel sorry, especially to ladies and young girls – it will make them feel worst.
Getting older also affects people. I’m now 30 years old.
Does it matter? Not really. Still feel like I’m eighteen.
Anna Pazdro, my partner for life, supported me and loved me, since the very beginning. She has never judged me and has always made me feel like nothing changed. I can only be thankful. I thought that my drastic change in appearance could affect the way she feels about me. Anna could stop feeling attracted to me. I feared that, really, but it never happened.
Most of us spent most of 2020 at home. Usually I shave everyday.
Yes, every single day. However, during the lockdown, I thought it would be a good idea to let my hair grow. That way, I would be able to see what is the current condition of my Alopecia.
Well, you can see it for yourself.
I have probably over 60% of my hair back, but for me, those aren’t good news. It only means that it’s harder to shave every morning.
I still can’t bear the idea of going out looking like that.
When I shave, I feel good. I got used to it. I say jokes about it all the time – people laugh. with me, not at me. That’s a good thing.
COVID-19 hit me, and I had to stay home for 2 weeks. I didn’t shave during that time so that I could take some more pictures of my scalp. I wanted to share them with you all to see it for yourself and try to understand how people with Alopecia might feel.
How would you feel?
I know this isn’t my typical optimistic and positive post. In fact, it might feel like I am portraying myself as a victim of a depressed man.
That is not the case.
I am very grateful and happy that I am generally healthy, and I have a beautiful and supportive family.
I wrote this article to share with you what it is like to live with Alopecia.
I want everyone to know that there people out there feeling depressed, sad and ugly. Please be kind to them and love them.
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