Whilst doing admin updates for this blog, I started searching for pictures of myself since I first got alopecia. I say that I ‘got’ alopecia, but as I will never hesitate to point out, it’s not really something you just get. I think you develop it yourself as a reaction to various stresses, but that’s not what I’m talking about today. Bad Rosie, focus on the actual subject choice.
Whilst flicking through all the photos of me over the last 6 years, I realised how easy it would have been for people to jump to the wrong conclusions about me and alopecia at first. I don’t have many photos remaining from those dark ages due to multiple computer “crashes” (read memory losses, factory resets and explosions), but I have found a few, many of which are in a collage uploaded to my personal Facebook profile just over two years ago (see below).
Looking at a collage like this really shows how up and down my hair growth has been due to alopecia, and I doubt that this continuous (and thankfully, now predictable) pattern will change for a long time, if not ever.
I started losing my hair in the summer holidays between Years 7 and 8, so I reckon that my end of year 7 exams were my initial trigger. Looking back at them, they were probably the easiest exams I will ever sit, but at the time they were the be all and end all. Year 8 was the treatment ‘experimentation’ year, as I’ll deem it for now. We tried the lot, and only when we got to 2% DCPN (which for everyone who isn’t using it, is a nasty chemical they use in radiography or something, nasty stuff, so 2% is pretty high. The next highest percentage is 5%, and that is the maximum the NHS will use, so it turns out my hair, or more my immune system, is pretty stubborn) did we see any progress. Years 9 and 10 were the growing years, two years of pretty steady growth, with the only drop in progress being at my end of Year 10 mock exams. Year 11 was nice – pretty much consistent hair. Until the GCSEs hit. That was the end of all progress. Year 12; nothing. Year 13; nothing. Now that I’ve finished my A Levels two years later, I am finally seeing growth, although very little.
One of the things I regret not doing sooner, looking back at these photos, is eyebrows. I never really noticed how different my face looks with them, mainly because I didn’t value my appearance and I didn’t feel confident enough to even try at age 12. They probably would’ve helped to stop the quick assumptions ans fast spreading rumours of cancer at the very beginning, but even as I type this, I realise they would’ve happened anyway. It’s not every day that someone comes back from a 6 week break with no hair.
I’m halfway through my 12 week summer at the moment, and I’ve just agreed to do something which I class as pretty damn cool. Although it hasn’t been completely confirmed yet, I’ve agreed to help someone from Oxford University with a study on skin conditions such as alopecia by going for an interview about my experiences. It’s quite an exciting prospect, and I do hope it goes ahead. I do feel sorry for her when she has to interview me though – I talk far too much about something that I’m passionate about or intrigued by, and talking about alopecia fits both those categories. Through this interview, hopefully my experiences can help other people, which was one of the things I set out to do in the first place, so I’m feeling pretty good about myself. Someone once told me that we all have a little bit of superhero inside ourselves, that we all want to change the world. I can’t remember who told me that, but I completely agree with them. I wanted to change a little bit of the world by sharing my incessant ramblings about my life with the internet (a very bold and probably foolish move) in the hope someone would find it useful. Now someone has. Does that make me a superhero though? Hmm…I’ll let someone else decide.