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A woman with alopecia has told how she was ghosted after telling a date about her condition, but says it has been a useful tool in filtering out bad potential partners.
She now wants to speak up about her own experiences so others with alopecia feel less alone.
Asset management senior executive Amy Burbage, 31, from Newbury, West Berkshire, was 17 when she felt a patch of hair, the size of a two pence coin missing at the back of her head.
Blood test results showed that Amy was suffering from extreme iron deficiency and was told that this was the likely cause of her hair loss.
Although short-term medication helped her hair grow back, as soon as Amy stopped treatment it fell out once again.
She said: ‘With my iron levels back up to normal, quick forum readtopic propecia answer search the doctors took me off the iron tablets and soon my hair began to fall out again, but this time quicker than before.
‘I felt absolutely devastated because I thought that I knew the cause and thought that the treatment was working.’
Amy was diagnosed with the most severe form of alopecia, called alopecia universalis, in which all hair on the head and body falls out.
Between the ages of 17 and 18, Amy’s thick blonde hair fell out completely, leaving her completely bald. For a teenager, who was admittedly vain prior to this, Amy’s hair loss was absolutely devastating and she was left feeling as if she was grieving for her former-self.
‘Your hair and the way you look is one of the most important things to you at age 17, so it was truly devastating to be losing it,’ says Amy.
‘It’s not a person you’ve lost, but you still go through a grieving process for it. It’s hard to admit it, but I was quite vain prior to my hair falling out.
‘Once I had a spot in the middle of my forehead and I had a full-on breakdown and begged my mum not to send me to school.
‘To go from that to having your hair falling out and realising there is nothing you can do to stop it, it definitely teaches you a bit of a lesson.’
Previously seeking out and receiving plenty of attention from boys, Amy retreated into her shell and tried to avoid drawing attention to herself.
But Amy was determined to not let her alopecia determine her life and dived into the world of dating after ending her long-term relationship with her childhood boyfriend in her early twenties.
Amy decided that she would not tell her dates about her alopecia until the third or fourth date when she knew for sure if she wanted to continue seeing them.
On one occasion, Amy told a date about her condition, only for him to ‘ghost’ her by not replying to any of her follow-up messages.
She said: ‘There is one time that has stuck in my mind where I brought it up to one person and he seemed absolutely fine with it and even said that I looked beautiful in my wig.
‘But, after the date, he completely ghosted me, even though we had met multiple times.
‘I wasn’t really that into him anyway so I didn’t mind too much, but alopecia really helps you filter out the guys and people in your life who aren’t worth your time.’
Despite understandably thinking this was rude, Amy has found that her condition has been a great way to filter out people who aren’t worth her time.
Her current boyfriend of three years, Charlie, 32, loves her wigs and even says ‘it’s like dating different women, but with the same amazing personality’.
Amy now runs an Instagram where she tried to offer support to other alopecia sufferers.
She said: ‘People who don’t have alopecia often don’t know how to bring it up to you, so the more it’s talked about, the more open people will be about the condition.
‘I’ve had a couple of girls in the alopecia community message me saying that people have asked them how their chemo treatment is going, thinking that because they didn’t have hair, they must have had cancer.
‘There is clearly a lot more educating to be done and I hope my page can help.’
Amy reflects on missing out on things in her life because the condition, saying she even chose not to swim or dive in a waterfall on a holiday to Mexico, not feeling confident enough without her wig.
Hopefully through sharing her journey, though, she’ll feel differently in future.
‘The confidence I have gained from posting my baldness on my social media means that I want to go back and do those things I missed out on in the past,’ she said.
‘I’m desperate to go back and jump off that waterfall.’
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