Thursday, 2 April 2015

Stop telling me I'm stressed!!!!!!!!

I know this one is a bugbear for many suffering from hairloss, particularly when it's a poorly understood condition like Alopecia or androgenetic Alopecia. Why is it that hairloss seems to be intrinsically linked to an assumption of stress? When in reality it isn't?

I've done a lot of research into this and studies show stress can be a factor or contributor to hairloss; but it isn't the only or even most commonly-related cause. In fact it appears that in many cases of hairloss, stress is evident, measured by increased blood pressure or levels of cortisol, but these measures are often taken after hairloss has started - go figure! It seems equally likely then that hairloss is caused by other factors and while stress can be a contributor (and in one or two extreme cases the cause I'm sure) it is equally likely that the increased levels of stress hormone are in fact a side effect of the hairloss, not the other way round! 

To look at it another way, if stress and hairloss were intrinsically linked, then anyone who has lived first-hand through an extreme natural disaster, poverty, terrorism or even a personal tradegy would be joining the ranks of the bald army, even just once in their life. For me, linking my hairloss to stress is probably one of the most disrespectful things a stranger can do; you don't know me, have no idea what my life is like or in fact how well everything is going at the moment (and it is), so why make an assumption about my levels of stress? The same in fact is true of assuming we have poor diets, or not enough sleep, or mental issues, or any other potential contributor, when the fact remains that they have no idea.

I think for me, the perfect illustration of this was on a trip to the Doctor; I had been having severe knee pains for several months and eventually, the doctor gave up and referred me to a specialist. Off I hobble to the hospital, wait in a stark white room, stinking of disinfectant and twiddle my thumbs through the inevitable delay to see a knee specialist. In I go and he looks at it; "Yes he says, I can feel it grinding", going through each of my symptoms one by one. "I wonder if you have a slipped piece of cartilage or perhaps you've just twisted it." He proceeded to book me in for a scan and some physio, advising some exercises in the meantime. As we neared the end of my allotted time, he popped onto the computer and looked up my NHS records to add some notes; while there, he stumbled on a whole series of blood tests I'd had a month or two before and wanted to double-check there were no underlying issues. "Why did you have them done?" he asked. "My hair fell out" I replied matter-of-factly. He asked if they got to the bottom of it, and how long it took to grow back, and I told him it hadn't.

It was like I'd flipped a switch. He proceeded to cancel all the appointments he'd booked me, advised me my knee was a result of the same 'stress' that had caused my hairloss and promptly booked me in to see the nurse and the psychiatrist. Needless to say, the nurse found verifying symptoms of stress like high blood pressure and a fast pulse; I was so angry at this point, I'm surprised I didn't explode the machine! I didn't attend the appointment with the psychiatrist (I cancelled) and I didn't ever get to the bottom of the knee pain. Instead, I opted for alternative therapy, and regularly see an osteopath who helps keep the knee clear of pain!

I guess to sum up, although it happens far less often these days, I really hope that greater education helps reduce these comments on stress. I'm not, it's not and frankly, it's none of your business!

Anyone else have this sort of experience?

Victoria x Twitter: @PrettyBald

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