Hi Everyone!

I've been struggling with severe social anxiety ever since I started losing my hair a year ago.  I am terrified of people asking me questions about my hair and eyebrows.  I feel so bad because my boyfriend wants me to hang out with other people with him, but a lot of the time I can't bring myself to do it.  I have always been more on the introverted side, and social experiences have never been the easiest for me, but now even the smallest social interaction gives me really high anxiety.  For example, if we're at his place and his roommates are around, I don't even want to leave his room to get water or make food.  I feel horrible because my boyfriend has been so wonderful through this whole thing, and I want to be able to spend time with his friends because I know that it means a lot to him.  I'm just so anxious that someone will say something about my hair and I'll break down and start crying because I still have a really hard time talking about it, and I'm scared that people will think that I'm ugly or lesser in some way because I have alopecia. 

Has anyone else felt this way?   Do you have any advice about how to deal with it or confront it?  

My boyfriend thinks that I should tell his friends about it, but I haven't even told my own friends about it who I am much closer to.  I don't really feel comfortable telling people that I don't know very well about what I've been going through for the past year.  Do you have any tips about telling people about having alopecia areata?

Anyways, thank you in advance for any replies!  I really do appreciate it!

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I'm sure that you and your boyfriend have a certain circle of friends . Start by having him talk to these people and explain Alopecia . He can explain how hard it is for you. Then start by getting together with just a few. Gradually you will be able to be around larger crowds. You will find that these people will understand and accept you for who you really are. They will actually stand up for you If someone outside of these friends says anything that could hurt your feelings. Give your friends a chance you will be pleasantly surprised.

I got myself a good wig from a local wig store that looks like my hair, They will help you learn how to wear your wig with confidence. And you don't have to tell if you don't want to. If you do tell people you have alopecia and you are wearing a wig, people are usually interested and not critical as they wonder if they could handle loosing their hair as well as you have It's not a flaw in your personality. You are still the same person. I have been wearing wigs for 7 years as I have alopecia Universalis Yes I was freaked out but then I realized I couldn't help it and I am still me. Get a good wig at a local wig store. Be around others that have also lost their hair, which you will find in a wig store. Its very enlightening.

Dear Dayna,

Go to this website and you'll see that 40% of hair loss sufferers are women!

http://www.americanhairloss.org/women_hair_loss/introduction.asp

Mistakenly thought to be a strictly male disease, women actually make up forty percent of American hair loss sufferers. Hair loss in women can be absolutely devastating for the sufferer's self image and emotional well being.

Unfortunately, society has forced women to suffer in silence. It is considered far more acceptable for men to go through the same hair loss process. Even more unfortunately, the medical community also treats the issue of women's hair loss as if it were nonexistent. Since hair loss doesn't appear to be life threatening, most physicians pay little attention to women's complaints about hair loss and essentially tell their patients that "it's no big deal", and that "you'll just have to live with it."

Of course what these physicians don't seem to realize is that the psychological damage caused by hair loss and feeling unattractive can be just as devastating as any serious disease, and in fact, can take an emotional toll that directly affects physical health.

The American Hair Loss Association recognizes that hair loss is women is a serious life altering condition that can no longer be ignored by the medical community and society as a whole.

I agree with you,,  My doctor doesn't seem concerned at all that I have no hair at all, no eyebows, eyelashes, nose hair or hair on my head.  I was devastated.  Insurance didn't want to pay for a cranial prosthesis like they do for cancer treatments.  As a mater of fact if my doctor puts down on my report for my visit about my hair loss, the insurance won't pay for my visit even if i'm there for another reason but also talk about my hair loss.  Now we just talk about it and he doesn't write it in my report.  I still don't have any answers.   I don't know what they answer is for women like us, but I understand your feelings, but I am resigned to wearing a wig now.  It's part of me.

Do not let even a week go by without doing and enjoying everything your peers are doing at this age. Cover the head and go get the life, laughs, learning and memories you deserve.

Hi Dayna,

I also struggle with social anxiety and my alopecia has certainly magnified that struggle.  It feels better for me to control when and how people find out so I just tell them.  It is unlikely that people will comment or even notice your hair loss (depending on how severe it is or if/ how you choose to cover it).  Of course there is still the possibility they will, so in the long run it puts me more at ease for things to be in the open.   In my experience, the way I imagine the conversation going is typically worse than how it really plays out.  Most people are kind and understanding and actually don't even care much about your hair. It still feels very uncomfortable to me to talk about it, but the discomfort is fleeting then soon over.  As far as advice for what to say, I usually rehearse a few sentences in my head.  Just keep it brief and to the point.  I'd start with telling your friends first to test the waters. I think alopecia looses a lot of negative power when it is no longer a secret.  I agree with Tom and think you could ask your boyfriend to tell his roommates/friends about your alopecia.  

I also highly recommend reading the book "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz. It has really helped me deal with thoughts like "what if people think I am weird/ ugly?"

Becky

I think that mental illness is worse than physical illness. Of course, any illness is horrible and I would like nobody to be ill, but the trust is that people do not pay enough attention to their mental illness, and they see the problem only when it is too late. I had depression, and I know what I am talking about. I was afraid to interact with other people and I thought that was the end, but thankfully I found a site where there is organized virtual group therapy. They helped me to recover and to start living again. I want nobody on the earth to be ill.

Talk to a specialist! Perhaps the most trivial and the most effective option will help you achieve the best results. Working with a competent psychotherapist will help you work through all the anxiety situations that you can get into, understand what caused the fear, and learn to build a trusting relationship with a person who will not judge you under no circumstances. A specialist can also prescribe medication to help reduce your overall anxiety level until you learn to cope independently. You can read about the peculiarities of this disease from specialists https://fherehab.com/anxiety/treatment/. The main thing is to start treatment quickly!

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