Amy Chinnick is a beautiful brave 25 year old mum from Caerphilly who suffered sudden hair loss.
My hair began to thin around the time of my 21st birthday. I thought nothing of it, I was probably dying it too much and using straighteners which generated too much heat. But as the days went on more and more hair started to fall out. It went from little sprinklings of hair on my pillow to waking up with clumps there. Within 4 weeks I lost 90% of my hair! It happened all so quick and I didn’t have an explanation. I was left confused so I went to the doctors. 3 or 4 trips there and each time I left with the same answer, you have 'alopecia' no one knows what causes it or why it has been triggered in you, theres nothing we can do to help it grow back. It’s unpredictable.
I felt lost. Looking in the mirror had become a hard task, I looked different, I was bald. A bald GIRL. I couldn't get my head around it. I felt like a freak, I was ashamed. I felt like my life was over, how could I go about as I normally did? How could I achieve things feeling this way about myself? I couldn't afford natural looking human hair wigs. It was like every door was closed for me. This caused me anxiety and depression which got in the way of almost everything. I was forced to take time of work as I worked with food and my hair was falling out every time I turned my head. That was a big challenge, to give up work, I’ve always kept busy and like earning my own income. It was challenging coming to terms with the fact I had no control over the situation.
I have faced many challenges with alopecia. One, not being able to go out for weeks because I couldn’t come to terms with what I looked like now. I couldn't even answer my own front door. I couldn't go swimming, or the gym. I had to get used to wearing this wig which may not seem like much, but when its not your own hair on your head it gets annoying and often comes out of place, it's also itchy and irritating.
I hated myself because I didn't have any answers. I kept asking what did I do wrong? It was a constant battle in my
head about what if I did this? or what if it was this that caused it? I was beating myself up all the time about something I had no control over. I walked off from a mirror and telling myself how ugly I was, how weird I looked now. As time went on I started to accepted the fact this is how I am going to look from now on, I might as well embrace it.
The moment I put my first picture on Facebook without a wig that was the moment I didn’t have to hide the fact I was bald. Everyone knew now, there was nothing to worry about any more. Opportunities started to come my way after publishing that photo. Articles with the metro and Daily Mirror, I've made videos with BBC news and BBC Sesh, and now writing this article to raise more awareness with Love Your Damn Self. Now, I'm empowered to be myself and have helped people in similar predicaments to me. BBC Sesh did some sketches with me about the perks of alopecia to bring a light hearted positive vibe to the subject. It's gained a lot of traction and many people have reached out and I have guided them to help, advice and even products. I feel as though I was given alopecia to help others going through the same thing. Although I felt awful at first, I adapted quickly, I didn’t exactly have a choice. I'm the type who tries to make the best out of every situation. I count my blessings. I am alive. Still breathing. I have a roof over my head and friends and family who love me.
I must admit, I still have my down days, everyone does. But I feel completely different now. I have a fiancee who has stuck with me through this whole transition. He kept me calm, told me I was beautiful and kept me focused on the import things in life. He was a massive help. We have a beautiful daughter, Daisy, who keeps me on my toes and makes me realise that there is more to life than hair.
I'm incredibly lucky that no one has ever expected anything from me. I know some people expect you to wear a wig if you're bald, especially if you’re female. But I believe that within today's society it is becoming more acceptable to do what you please and express yourself in whatever way you like. I think if this happened to me years ago I would have had a more negative experience but today people are more sensitive, understanding and have better knowledge of differences. As soon as I put my first bald selfie up I think everyone just expected me to continue being myself, and that felt good.
My advice to other women:
Do not waste your time trying to be something you're not!
Embrace yourself as much as you can, even your flaws!
Life is too short to be worrying, especially about the things you have no control over.
Of course we all get upset over things, but it’s important to know when to just sit back breath and evaluate a situation realistically.
Never bottle up your feelings, it makes everything 100% worse, if you don't like talking to people, a diary could be another alternative.
There are plenty of positivity groups, forums and other social media platforms that can help you with whatever you are facing. I also find a nice healthy diet, plenty of fresh air and a daily walk makes me feel better about myself. Taking the time to look after yourself is really important. But don't beat yourself up about going a little wild from time to time either, everything in moderation.
It’s okay not to be okay and everyone needs to understand that. We are all human and in this together. Try your best at everything you do, have passion, be confident and don’t be afraid to give something new a go.