Alopecia Totalis affects 1 in 250,000 women. Finding answers and support can be a arduous journey, but it’s not one you’ll face alone. In our latest blog series our friend Erika Ferreri takes us on her journey with alopecia totalis, from discovery to invincibilty.
What the “H-E-double hockey sticks” is happening to me?!?!
Yep, that pretty much sums up exactly how I felt in January 2015. I was waiting to pick up my son at the airport, and I ran my fingers through my “Kim Kardashian-like but all natural” long, dark, thick hair. I still remember it like it was yesterday, I ran my fingers through the front part of my head all the way through the nape of my neck and then I brought my fingers out they were holding about an eighth of my hair. I ran to the bathroom to look to see what happened and I had two large bald spots on the lower left-hand side of my head. From there within three months all the hair on my body was gone…. and was off on a two-year journey that completely changed my life.
I like to call this part of my life the single most life-changing event that I’ve experienced in 39 years of life. It was by far the most traumatic but also by far the biggest source of personal growth.
OK here’s my story….
I always tended to lead a pretty intense life. I viewed success as having a lot of money, being educated, and being a perfect mom. So, I did that…I worked three jobs, I went to school full-time and got my graduate degree, and then I got into a pretty stressful relationship for seven years. Then about two years ago all the stress reached its peak. The first sign of my stress was my development of alopecia. I didn’t know what it was that at the time, but it started out with two bald spots on the side of my head that appeared while I was waiting for my son at the airport. From that point forward mysterious health symptoms popped up. I gained 30 pounds overnight (it seems like), my hormones went all out of whack, and I lost cognitive function where I would forget one part of my sentence and would have to stop talking. I lost muscle strength; I couldn’t hold 20 pounds over my head, even my skin tone changed! I’ve always had olive clear skin but I developed huge black spots all over my body so bad random people would hand me cards for women abuse centers. I had no idea what was going on with my body. I had gone to medical professionals, and no one could explain to me why I was losing my hair. Female baldness does not run in my family. I had always been one of those super annoying people that complained about how thick their hair was, and that I had to go to the salon to get it thinned out so that it was manageable.
In June 2015, I experienced the most powerful moment of my life! It was at that point that I had lost so much hair I could no longer hide it with a baseball cap. Not only had I lost the majority of the hair on my head, but I had also started to lose most of the hair all over my body. It was at this point that I decided that I would take my ex-boyfriend’s clippers and shave my head at 1 o’clock in the morning. It was a total G.I. Jane moment!
As I ran the clippers through the front part of my head and I thought to myself, there’s no turning back now! I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to feel. There was a bit of risk in this act because I’d already seen half a dozen medical professionals and none of them could tell me why I was losing my hair and if it would grow back! For me, shaving my head was like admitting that I was going bald and that it just might be permanent. But as I brought the clippers over the remainder of my head, I began to feel these feelings that I had never experienced before, and at that moment… that very moment, it was the most invincible I had ever felt in my life! It was like I was finally taking control of my body and losing my hair was on my terms.
Now, it wasn’t until a year after this moment that I discovered Salon Juan. I had managed to get the majority of my newly diagnosed autoimmune issues under control or completely resolved by looking into healthcare solutions on a global scale. For more information on this, you can visit my Facebook page: FMT-Auto Immune Treatment Journal.
However, I now had not one single hair on my body… not in my ears…not in my nose…nowhere! However, as traumatizing as this is for a woman to lose all of her hair, I’m not gonna lie, the benefit of never having to shave from the nose down is amazing!!
But because I connected my hair with my femininity, and my personal identity, the emotions behind losing my hair were unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my life. I literally went through all the stages of grief over about a year and a half. The experience of losing my hair had been emotionally draining and also financially draining. The learning curve on buying wigs is pretty steep, and for me, none of my doctors had any resources to give me on who to go see to help me purchase wigs.
The day I walked into Salon Juan I had spent approximately 10K on the most amazing assortment of the scratchiest, most uncomfortable wigs ever! Juan greeted me at the door and had me sit down in his chair. He then began to tell me all about alopecia and hair loss in such great detail, a detail that I had never heard from any other professional up to this point. He schooled me on all the different types of wigs that there were and I was finally able to make an educated decision…. What did I choose….well I will save that for my next post!