#community-voice Courtney Hays Speaker: Courtney Hays Date Aired: January 31, 2023 One thing about alopecia areata I wish my friends knew is: Don’t ignore it, instead acknowledge it. Ask them how their doing, but give them space if the need it. Don’t make judgements. Avoid comparisons. Encourage new hobbies. Listen to their story. Validate what they feel and what they’ve gone through. Do your research to become more knowledgeable and comfortable talking about it. Help them find a support group or counselor. One thing about alopecia areata I wish my parents knew is: It can dramatically affect confidence, and lead to increased levels of anxiety (at worst, even depression). Can lead to possible social isolation. It can help a great deal to confide in counsellors or others with the condition themselves (within a safe environment), who can all provide comfort, advice and even helpful suggestions to improve one’s appearance. Knowledge is KEY. The more others know about why your child has alopecia, the less likely they will be to tease or make fun of your child. Take the time to teach others why your child has no hair. It will go a long way to building self-esteem in your child and to making their school days happy days. One thing about alopecia areata I wish my co-workers knew is: The effects of the disease are, for the most part, aesthetically distressing, which can lead to problems on the emotional front. It does not tend to follow entirely predictable patterns and nor is it a condition that can be treated with any real certainty either. Unfortunately, there simply is no real way to predict an outcome as the condition varies from one person to the next. It is important to remember that emotional pain is just as valid and important as the physical variety, and it can be as (if not more) debilitating. One thing about alopecia areata I wish my classmates knew is: There is one thing that is very different about me — I have no hair!! I have a disease called Alopecia Areata that makes all my hair fall out. Lots of people have it, but nobody here at our school. I am not sick nor can you “catch” it. Sometimes I wear hats or scarves or I may even wear my wig, but other times I just go bald!! I just wanted to let you know so you wouldn’t be surprised on the first day of school. I don’t mind answering your questions, but I hope you won’t tease me or make me feel sad because I have no hair. hair. One thing about alopecia areata I wish my dermatologist knew is: One of the hardest things to come to terms with is accepting hair loss. It’s completely understandable for this time to be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, and everyone deals with hair loss differently. Be emotionally and mentally supportive and non-judge mental. One thing I wish my fellow Alopecia warriors knew: Many people around the world are living with the challenges of alopecia areata.No matter where you are in your journey with alopecia areata, it’s important to know you’re not alone. It’s most important to realize that there is no correct way to cope with living with Alopecia – your coping strategies are as individual as you are. Accept that it is an emotional trauma and allow yourself to grieve. Lean on those close to you working towards a sense of self-acceptance to feel stronger. Most importantly, keep things in perspective - its only hair and you are still you.