Art and Alopecia

Creative practices like art, music, writing and dance have long been known to help support mental health. Arts therapy is a recognized practice with many potential benefits, known to help with communication, self-image, personal development and coping skills.

Throughout the challenges 2020, we’ve seen how arts and creative practices have been very helpful for individuals and families. A range of creative practices have seen a swell in popularity, from mindful colouring, paint-by-numbers for adults and learning viral online dances. Art, dance and music can be great learning tools for young kids and an opportunity for self-expression or exploring emotions for teens and adults.

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Ten Truths from my Alopecia Journey

80427854_10157275466804398_3913179368066646016_nMichelle Ogbonna

My Alopecia Journey began many years ago, when I was 15 years old,  in Year 10 at High School. I was in the Drama Club, and one evening as we prepared for a performance, someone styling my hair exclaimed: “Oh look , you have a little bald spot right at the back of your head !” A few people laughed, including me, and I didn’t give it much thought, as it stayed the same for about 2 years.

During Year 12,  however, a few more little patches appeared, and in the year after I left school, those few little patches became many little patches, which joined together to become big patches, and I could no longer hide them with careful styling.

I wore hats and scarves to hide my patchy scalp,  and struggled terribly with anxiety and depression.

During that time, there were many lies I told myself and believed about myself and my future.

Now,  I am  43 years old, and my life is far different than I had expected it would be. Here are 10 of those lies and 10 of the truths that have replaced them.

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How to Cope

Well, 2020 sure is something, huh? 

I had the idea for this article in December after a difficult personal month with family impacted by the bushfires. After some consideration, it felt a little too personal and not relevant enough to others to share to this blog.

And then the last three months happened.

Fires, floods, pandemic, political scandals, workplaces closing down and suddenly we can’t buy toilet paper. That’s just the macro level, big-picture stuff. Underneath all this, our personal lives keep on keeping on.

For me, that start of 2020 has been a house move, the passing of a much-beloved pet, family members battling cancer, and, after over six years of Alopecia Areata Universalis, my brows are growing back. In the wrong place. Urgh.

It’s a whole lot. And we’re all feeling it. Even if you haven’t been directly impacted by fires, workplace closures, or sudden lack is tissues, we’re all feeling the instability and unpredictability. 

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Motivation, Healthy Habits and Alopecia

IMG_2285Submitted by Nellie – You can read more about Nellie’s journey with Alopecia Areata here.

When my alopecia takes something away from me, there is usually an antidote that restores my equilibrium.

Hair needing to be cut into a pixie once some regrowth comes through? A licence to purchase a new lipstick and eyeshadow colours that compliment my new look. Alopecia Areata progressing to Universalis? A new wig cut into a sharp bob in a shade of blonde that I’d never be able to upkeep with my real hair. Braving life in the outside world without a wig at all? Easier to tackle with a new dress that gives me some extra confidence in my appearance. No hair to tie up or pin back? No need to perpetually purchase hair elastics or bobby pins when they inevitably get sucked into the hair-accessory black hole. Being unresponsive to new alopecia medications that seemed to work wonders for most other alopecians? Focus on other aspects of my physical health, applying for an AAAF sponsorship to playing tennis and stay active, have fun and remember that a bald head need not stop me from doing things I enjoy.

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Alyssa’s Alopecia Story

Alyssa Gardner (3)Alyssa shared the first steps of her sponsorship journey with Love, Alopecia here

August 2019

The last 4 months of sponsorship through the AAAF for membership with Studio 360 Cycle, an indoor cycling studio in SA, have been incredible. Cycling at the studio has given me an opportunity to exercise and challenge myself physically without fear of accidentally misplacing my “hair”, which has been a big fear of mine since my alopecia developed. What’s fascinating, though, is that more engaged I’ve been with the sponsorship and the studio, the less my hair (or lack thereof) actually matters…

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Finding Balance with Alopecia

By Linsey Painter

I’m thirty-five years old and I’ve had alopecia in its various forms all of my life. Yet these past two years have been the healthiest I’ve ever experienced with alopecia.

My idea of healthy alopecia has to do with my whole being.

Healthy on the OutsideLinsey HA (1)

 When people see me with a scarf on my head—or just my bald head—most immediately jump to the conclusion that I am sick. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

So when I’m doing the Red Arrow walk in Cairns or bike riding with my two boys to school I often get surprised looks.

Exercising can be hot, sweaty business and taking off my cap is the fastest way for me to cool down. I’ve found that while I’m chugging up the steep path and stairs on the Red Arrow with my cap on people usually ignore me, they’re in their own little world of music and breathing, and let’s face it, just trying to make it to the top without falling over.

When I take my cap off all of a sudden I see people’s heads lift and faces break into a smile.

People say, “Hey.”

And suddenly there is a connection.

It makes me feel good to know that people see me as a healthy individual. I don’t have hair and yet I’m obviously not sick either.

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Self Love for Alopecians

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.”

-Buddha

So, what is self-love, you ask. Self-love has become the latest super food for the soul but very few know what it really means.

The dictionary tells us;

Self-love | noun | Regard for one’s own well-being and happiness.

Now that can even seem vague and open to various interpretations. In fact, it’s taken me years to answer this question for myself. I’ve searched high and low, lived in Ashram’s, done six silent Vipassana retreats, travelled solo, lived alone in foreign countries, practiced many different techniques and approaches and I can say this, its discovery of a very different kind. It’s not an experience you are looking for, it’s a relationship with yourself. That can’t be found anywhere but within. Continue reading “Self Love for Alopecians”

On Puzzles – Shea’s Story

Everybody you meet has a puzzle.

Your puzzle is different to mine. Mine is different to yours. Mine may be really big and overwhelming and complicated. Yours may be small and for the most part simple, or vice versa.

These puzzles represent our emotional, mental and physical selves. Your wants and needs to survive. Your situation. Your history. Your future path.

It is your puzzle and yours alone.

 

For a really long time, I have tried to solve other people’s puzzles. Continue reading “On Puzzles – Shea’s Story”

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