How/When My Alopecia started (a long one...)

Hello My Shining Ones :-)

I also just posted a video that shares some of this same *long* story....if you'd rather watch than read :-)

In my first blog I said I would share "how/when" my Alopecia started as the story has unraveled itself to me slowly over the years! When I was 7 or 8 years old I realized I was somehow meant to "travel the world, meet my brothers and sisters and spread the message of love." Yes, perhaps an odd thought for a child, but it was something that resonated in a modern day St Francis. I would walk for miles around my town and along the beach singing "Love is in the Air". I was raised Catholic so we practiced Lent which is a 40-day period of "giving up" something that would be a sacrafice for you--like ice cream or the 4th grade I decided I would give up biting my nails. I used to bite my nails raw so this was a big deal for a 9 year old. I stopped biting my nails and though I grew up washing dishes and pots in my families restaurant I always had beautiful long nails...I knew that they were somehow a gift from God for making this "sacrafice." It was probably by that summer of '77 that I noticed that first small, nickel sized, smooth bald patch on the right back side of my head. I had long brown, wavy hair so I did my best to just pretend it wasn't there...a common practice of denial in my family and community I grew up in south of Boston :-) It stayed a small patch for quite some time but when it did begin falling out it fell out quickly and it was time to get a wig. I know this story is a bit all over the place but it will all come together by the end.
I soon read a letter published in NAAF newsletter that said (paraphrasing)..a man brings his son to the doctor and the diagnosis is Alopecia. The doctor says, congratulations your son has Alopecia Areata....there may not be a lot we can do about it but I have never met a child who develops Alopecia who doesn't turn out to be a pretty extraordinary human being!" I loved that letter and often was reminded of it when I was feeling down.
I tried a few creams but there was no part of me who was willing or wanting to try steroid shots--for which I am sooo grateful. I have truly come to believe (for myself) that a cure doesn't lie inside of treatments like this.
I realized pretty early on that there were worse things that could have happened to me so I didn't spend a lot of time feeling sorry for myself. Now, that being said, I didn't handle having Alopecia in a powerful way. I wouldn't say the word wig, share with anyone about my condition or look at myself in a mirror without my wig on for 10 years! Though looking back now I know that this was my experience so I would be able to share in the future about my self-induced "transformtion." During highschool and college I became a huge advocate for other causes, racial equality, women's rights...even if I couldn't face my own challenge I was becoming a champion for others.
I realized that I was learning lessons about love, understanding and compassion for humanity that I can say I probably wouldn't have learned had I not been given the opportunity of having Alopecia. In November of 1998 while praying I had an idea for a book called I Love You More. It stayed an idea for about two years during which time I turned 30 and pretty much out of no where...2 weeks before my 30th birthday I told my friends to throw me a big party...I was going to have my "Coming Out" party as "The Bald Chick". I didn't get at the time that the decision was related to the prayer but losing my wigs has been the most brilliant and freeing gift of life that I could ever give myself. And it now allows me to go into schools with my book and share powerfully the lessons of "Just Be Your Self" and "Self-Esteem".
Well...just a few years ago at Book Expo I was interviewed for Yoga Journal from Southern California. The reporter asked, of course about my Alopecia and if they knew what caused it. At my 1st NAAF conference I heard a doctor say that they couldn't be sure it was stress triggered because it happens to children. That never resonated with me...or perhas I just heard him wrong. I have come to believe that basically every disease is stress is your body breaking down letting you know that something is out of whack. Now, stress is relative to every individual, it could be a bad grade, a move, a difficult labor or birth (for mother or child), a divorce, job loss, car accident, break up...etc. The reporter asked if there were any other side effects and I said it was hard to say...that I believe that losing your hair can be so stressful that it can trigger other conditions...but they may or may not be directly related to the Alopecia. But...I did share with her that a lot of people have poor nails but that because I had given up "biting my nails" for Lent that I felt I had somehow been gifted with beautiful nails. She was the 1st person to make this link...she said..."well, when did you start losing your hair" to which I responded..."probably just a few months after I stopped biting my nails". She shared that it was obvious that I was stressed because biting your nails is a release of when I stopped biting my nails my stress manifested in another form...Alopecia Areata!!! FYI...My life was full of dad was an alcoholic, we moved from the ocean to the country, a new school, etc. It could have been one or the combination of these situations. But that was a big "Ah-Ha" for me...that I really do believe that Alopecia is stress triggered and if we can identify the stress/es and deal with them we can reverse our hairloss (if we choose). I also think that there may be the option of using different stress relief techniques (so even if we might not be able to pinpoint or eliminate the stress) we can still deal differently when we are feeling stressed. My biggest suggestion here is deep breathing and yoga. I think deep breathing is the 1st thing we stop doing when we are stressed and so many woman especially begin realy shallow breathing that can totally effect your health and well being. wonder I was resisiting writing this "short novel"...sorry I don't have an editor for this one :-) But the last thing that I want to share is that I absolutely believe that my Alopecia has been an incredible gift from God/Consciousness/the Universe so that I might fulfill on my mission of generating the conversation of love around the world! Who knew that losing my hair would teach me the lessons of compassion, understanding and love for humanity and eventually allow me to learn the biggest lessons of learning to love myself and allow others to love me?! What a journey this has that I certainly would not trade for hair :-)

Keep Shining!
Laura Duksta
NY Times Best Selling Author of I Love You More

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