Lynda Myra Boler discusses her journey with alopecia in this inspiring piece, what it was like to navigate adolescence and adulthood with a visible condition, and how she has found the strength to embrace herself.
My name is Lynda Boler and this is my journey with alopecia.
Growing up I was a very happy-go-lucky teenager who had striking long, silky, brown hair that my mother would enjoy brushing every night. That changed whenever she noticed, at the age of 14, clumps of my hair would fall out with every stroke and even more hair was lost with every wash.
The loss of hair was a slow gradual thing and so I was able to withhold my condition from people for a while and continue life normally. However, the time did come when I couldn't hide it from my peers anymore and the barrage of taunts and verbal bullying began.
This ranged from shouting out things like “piggy wiggy”, “baldilocks”, “egghead” and more. Even progressing to pulling my hairpiece off my head.
It was a rather painful time for me and I often cried myself to sleep at night.
My self-esteem went to an all-time low and my happy go lucky demeanour was lost from the endless teasing. I no longer felt beautiful!
Let's face it, for 95% of ladies their hair means everything to them to the point of spending countless hours and a vast amount of money every week at a salon.
Sadly I wasn't ever to be among that majority.
I was told by many Doctors that there was no effective treatment to cure my alopecia and that I had to just wait and hope for it to regrow naturally.
As a young girl I wasn't prepared to accept that, at least not without trying all available avenues and so over the years that ensued I tried various treatments that included :
- Rubbing lotions into my scalp, which burnt.
- Multiple injections in my head on a weekly basis.
- UV rays.
Each treatment did stimulate hair growth, but It was short lived and soon fell back out again.
So my hope of ever regaining my lovely locks were raised and dashed with every attempt.
By the age of 15 I was dealt another harsh blow…. I was diagnosed with a condition called Turner's Syndrome (to be addressed in a later article).
At 16 I made the choice to not go any further with my studies and to go out into the world to work. It was then things started to change for me, I was no longer getting bullied and was mixing with people of all ages who actually sympathised; they wanted to understand my condition and so I found myself talking to them about it. The more I talked the easier it became and slowly found myself in a position of acceptance and to embrace my hair loss.
So at 18 I made a conscious decision to stop all treatment…. I am now 52, and still bald.
I guess you're wondering now how I got on in the game of dating, well; during those formidable years I was quite lucky and blessed to find a few good men. I was always honest and open with all suitors about my long-term condition. Most of them were comfortable knowing about it and said it wasn't a problem but when it was time to take it to the next level and actually see me without my hairpiece on…. most freaked and ran for the hills!
It wasn't until my late 20’s that I found my soulmate who saw beyond my appearance and we’ve been married now for 21 years and we have a beautiful son of 19.
I have currently been living in hot, humid Malaysia for the last 12 years and to wear a hairpiece constantly in that climate is rather uncomfortable and sweaty. One day I even approached the primary school where I was helping out at the time and asked them if they'd be happy for me to go bald within the school. Their response was as I expected:
“Sorry no! It would be too upsetting for the children to see; also, we’d be inundated with complaints from angry parents when their children go home distressed!”
It's unfortunate that in the 21st century social norm still dictates whether I can be bald in public. I strongly feel that today's society need educating both at school and within the home to accept and embrace differences.
My hope, is that one day society will treat those who are different with kindness and empathy, therefore; allowing them to feel normal.
I’m still not fully at ease even now with anyone seeing me bald other than my husband and immediate family. I guess those early years of taunting still affect me slightly... will I ever be strong enough, I certainly hope so; one day!