I posted this a couple days ago on Facebook and someone's comment really struck me. She said, "Does it have to be either/or?"
Her thought forced me to consider sadness, which I strive hard to avoid at all cost. Losing my hair resulted in a lot of repressed memories and emotions, both that ultimately result in sadness. It's always been my motto to look forward and move on, to never dwell on things you can't change. I couldn't change the fact that my hair was falling out- it was in my DNA, something out of my control. I focused on things I could control: school, soccer, and breakfast. (I would never wake up early enough to eat breakfast... to this day, I am not a natural early riser.) By focusing my emotions on physical things, I avoided dealing with the depression I felt from Alopecia. Junior year of high school was probably the toughest on me. Even though I was getting better grades than ever before and playing on several soccer teams, I was so disconnected emotionally that I don't have any fond memories of it. By isolating myself from my entire class, I avoided all types of interaction that could hurt me (or help me). Primarily, I ate lunch in my car almost every day. I couldn't face the social awkwardness of finding a table full of people who would either stare or want to ask questions about my hair loss. I kept everything so vague that, all my classmates knew was that I had lost my hair but didn't know why, how or to what extent.
Eventually, I told enough people what was going on that, at a school our size, word would travel fast. & it did, which I was grateful for. I didn't have to explain myself everyday- it was a no questions asked kind of situation. However, by senior year I realized that by keeping people at such a distance, I had alienated myself to a point where people were afraid to talk to me, in fear of offending or upsetting me. I began to use my alopecia as a talking point, as a way to let people in again slowly but surely. By educating them to exactly what was going on, they were able to understand and empathize rather than sympathize... something I had been dreading for so long: sympathy.
Sadness is never something people want to face, but is necessary for emotionally moving on. Mourning is an important step of the grieving process, a step that I had tried to avoid altogether which landed me on a social island by myself... dealing with something alone is always harder than with others that you love.
To this day, I still don't believe in dwelling on what you've lost- it's already lost. Yes- I lost all my hair to Alopecia. But rather than be constantly sad about it every day, I choose happiness. I choose to love this life, rather than be ashamed of what I have left. I choose to celebrate Alopecia and what it's given me. The years ahead of me are not affected by my hair loss, they're still coming whether I like it or not. So I might as well enjoy them with every ounce of emotion I have, happy or sad.