Source: Pexels by Cottonbro Studios
I never had a particularly great head of hair. It was a bit mushroom-like and tended to grow outwards rather than down. But what counts is that I had hair – no Friar Tuck look for me! So long as this beautiful mane was flowing, life would be wonderful. I even liked to tempt fate and would occasionally shave my head when fed up with how it looked. It always grew back, though, allowing me to feel carefree.
So imagine my surprise when a couple of bald patches appeared.
Well, maybe surprise isn’t the word. Horror? Panic? Terror? It was a feeling probably akin to a Michael Myers victim in the ‘Halloween’ films. There was one on the base of my skull which didn’t concern me – but the patch on top of my head? He made life uncomfortable. And he had the cheek to keep growing! Before long, I was freaking out. Checking my hair in the mirror at every chance? Check. Wearing more and more hats? Check. Anxious GP appointments to figure out what was wrong? Check!
This process lasted years.
Try walking around for years while being ultra self-conscious about the glaring bald patches that were worsening. And that’s as a man! We’re sort of expected to start losing our hair with the whole male pattern baldness thing. I don’t want to assume anything of our female equivalent, but if we start stressing and freaking out, I can only imagine how they must feel. While I managed to keep a strong beard for a while, my hair looked more akin to mass deforestation. At one point, a colleague at work asked:
“Is that a tattoo on the back of your head?”
A comment that showed that intelligence is not necessarily a requirement to work in the NHS.
While there could be a multitude of reasons for alopecia, shock tends to be a big one. It was about six months after my dad had died – and about two years after it first started – that all the follicles in my body went ‘SOD THIS, WE’RE OUT!’ and all fell out. Suddenly, no hair existed on my person. I was completely bald, suffering from alopecia universalis.
And you know what? God, it felt so much better! No more hokey-kokey-half-in-half-out rubbish, just pure clean scalp! The complete absence of hair came with a sense of calm and acceptance. There was no longer anything to worry about. It felt so free. Sure, there would be moments of wishing I had a head full of hair, usually while watching prime Billy Ray Cyrus in his “Achey Breakey Heart” days. But, hey, I no longer had to pay for haircuts at Brian’s barbershop down the road which is just as well as I’m not even sure he’s still alive.
The last three years have been fantastic!
With no hair follicles, my scalp has been ridiculously smooth and prompted many a feel over the years, all consensual. I was the envy of all bald folks who could only wish for the aerodynamic feel, and not the constant ingrown hairs from repeated shaves to ensure they maintained that strong Jason Statham look.
The biggest change comes from the outlook that comes with alopecia.
Being able to accept that change, being less self-conscious about how you look and just being able to get on with your life as normal, is how you deal with alopecia. It’s not easy and it’ll take time, but being able to own it makes the difference and I’m thankful that I’ve been able to embrace my slaphead nature.
Except now it’s growing back and my hair currently makes me look like Yoda. Goddamnit.