It is a difficult time for anyone to deal with losing their hair. Whether you are a small child, a teenager or an adult. Or indeed someone in the limelight, such as Nadine Dorries MP who earlier this week disclosed she has been suffering with hairloss (alopecia).
An interview with Nadine Dorries aired on Day Break on Monday 3 June, sent a shiver down my spine. Initially I thought great, here we have a public figure who is willing to share her story about alopecia and encourage other people who are going through a similar situation that it doesn't have to be the end of the world. I was enthused about the possibility of raising much needed awareness to this non-life-threatening condition, but nevertheless life-changing and psychologically traumatic.
But alas no...
The interview was far from positive on any level and did not promote the condition to be something that one can face in order to live a normal life. To those of us who do cope and carry on our lives and face the world, it merely patronised and stigmatised the condition. She explained that "When men go bald and when they lose their hair, what they tend to do is have a mid-life crisis and go out and have an affair, but what women tend to do is to actually go into their houses and lock the door". This comment was both condescending and patronising.
Actually, we are proud that we have found the strength to hold our heads up, to fight, to accept, to move on.
The people I have been fortunate enough to meet who have alopecia, certainly do not lock themselves away or have affairs as a result of hairloss. I know many alopecians who have taken on this condition with grit and determination and in fact have become stronger for it.
The entire interview really hit a nerve with me. She came across as ill informed, naive and negative and should not be publicising this condition as something to be ashamed of. There are some of us, a lot of us in fact that are pretty dam proud to be bald. Many of us work hard to support others who are so desperately in need of positive support - not with negative, terrifying and false information.
I am not denying that Nadine is struggling with her hairloss, but to talk about the condition on national television, where many viewers may well be going through a similar journey to Nadine, will quite frankly have been terrified.
To explain that the condition is reversible is also not necessarily true and for many, treatment is merely not an option. For many, options are available, but should be looked at realistically and what might work for one person, might not for another.
I was diagnosed 11 years ago, and there was no treatment available. I was simply told "What a shame for a 25-year-old woman" and was sent on my way. Yes I was traumatised, but with the support of friends and family around me, I did come to terms with being bald. Emotional and psychological support is what I believe to be the fundamental component in the journey of hairloss. Whether your hair grows back or not, the anxiety and high emotions that are associated with this condition should not go unnoticed.
Regardless of how one loses their hair, or the severity of the condition, the distress associated with this condition is on a par. What we now need are support services available to people with hairloss, to offer psychological interventions to support the hairloss journey and provide coping strategies, whatever the outcome.
"Losing your hair does not mean losing your smile"
Watch this space...