There are so many words to describe this young lady. Her very wise and loving Nonna described her as funny, loyal, caring, strong, smart, forgiving, supportive, full of grace…but my favorite was this: Even though she is outwardly beautiful, her inner beauty shines brightest.
I could not agree more. When I found out about Lydia’s journey with Alopecia and observed just how confident and strong she was, I knew we had to get together for this shoot. Her story needed to be told in hopes of bringing awareness, hope and help to others. Thank you Lydia for sharing your story…you are an inspiration to many!
At what age did you start noticing symptoms/hair loss?
I was about 8 years old when my mom first noticed 2-3 quarter sized patches on my head. She took me to my pediatrician and I was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata (AA) right then and there. We decided to not do treatment because of how young I was and how unnoticeable the spots were. After a few years my hair grew back in.
Alopecia is a funny thing to me. The easiest way for me to think/explain how Alopecia functions and this is the way I explain it to most who ask, especially to children, is that my body thinks my hair is “bad” and attacks it, which in result can cause it to fall out!
Who has helped you the most throughout the years?
Jesus and my loved ones. Knowing who I am in God’s eyes and my worth in His truth has really kept me out of many dark pits I could have so easily fallen into. He created every single person in His image, I just think that is the most beautiful thing any of us could accept.
Ever since I was young, my mom has done a good job of reminding me that no matter what, hair or no hair it doesn’t change who I am. She really instilled that into me from a young age.
Since it’s been summer, I’ve been going in public without a wig on because it’s so hot and uncomfortable! Just like shaving my head and taking that claim over this disease, going in public without anything covering my head is so liberating. I have people ask me questions all the time and it gives me a reason to talk to people or educate them and share something with them that they may have never known before.
What do you want others to know about having alopecia?
I catch people staring at me and giving me pity looks when I’m out in public and the one thing people always ask me is, if I have cancer. I don’t have cancer!! I always tell myself, it could be worse. I could be sick and losing my hair from cancer. But I’m not. Even though, I don’t have hair and that comes with other symptoms such a fatigue, headaches joint/muscle aches and pains I’m a pretty healthy girl. I praise the Lord for that every single day.
What have been the positives and/or negatives you have experienced?
Any hair I want, shower time is cut down drastically, I don’t have to spend as much money on hair products, time spent getting ready went from 1 hour to 15 minutes! Getting to talk, educate and connect with people wherever I go. Just to name a few.
I’m always cold by nature but having no hair takes it up to the next level! So I guess that really is the only negative. I try to always see the positive in everything. No sense in wasting my time and energy on ideas and thoughts that don’t benefit me.
How did it start and how did it progress over the years?
After my first flare up when I was 8, it grew back over a couple of years. Going into middle school, I struggled with eyebrow loss but didn’t experience any more spots on my head. I would hide my eyebrows with these awful, awful bangs. Kids would always ask questions, not always in the nicest of ways. I became so embarrassed for others to see it.
Around 15 years old is when I went to see a dermatologist about it for the first time. I tried any and every topical creams/foams/ointments. I went through rounds and rounds of steroid shots, in my hips and in my eyebrows. For awhile, I did a clinical trial where we would do laser treatments on my eyebrows. Thankfully, I experienced minimal symptoms. However, all of it was unsuccessful. Going into high school, my eyebrows eventually grew back and became fuller. When you lose hair and it begins to grow back, the pigment in the hair isn’t always the same color as it was before. That was the case for me. My eyebrows have returned to its natural shape but the color in both eyebrows are different from one another. 2012-2018, I didn’t have anymore flare ups.
February of 2018 is when I noticed a tiny spot on the top of my head. From February to November of ‘18, I lost over 90% of my hair. I finally decided to shave it all last fall. I also purchased my first wig! I recently saw another dermatologist and she diagnosed me with Alopecia Totalis.
As of right now, I’m loving the chrome dome and embracing my inner beauty. Because let’s be honest, beauty goes far beyond someone’s hair. I mean, I can have whatever hair style, color, length I want.
I’ve come a long way from the embarrassed teenager I was to an accepting and embracing woman. And I don’t plan to stop.