To kick off our Womens Wisdom guest blog series we have the wonderful Amy from South Wales!
Here's what she has to say:
My hair began to thin around the time of my 21st birthday. Thinking I was dying it too much and using heat such as straighteners etc. I thought nothing of it. But as the days went on more and more hair started to fall out, it went for little bits on my pillow to waking up to clumps. Within about 4 weeks i lost 90% of my hair, it happened all so quick and I didn’t really have any explanations, I was left confused with what was happening to me. I went to the doctors 3 or 4 times and each time I left with the same answer, you have 'alopecia' no one knows how it is caused or triggered and theres nothing we can do to help it grow back. It’s unpredictable.
I felt lost. Looking in the mirror was such a hard task, I looked so different, I was bald. A bald GIRL. I couldn't get my head around it. I felt like a freak, I felt ashamed. I felt my life was over, how could I go about as I normally did? How could I achieve things with the way I felt? How could I afford human hair wigs? I felt like every door was closed for me and my anxiety and depression got in the way of almost everything.
It’s almost like I was given alopecia to help others going through the same thing.
I still have my down days, everyone does. But I feel completely different now, I have a fiancee who stuck with my through the whole transition, he kept me calm told me I was beautiful and kept me focused on the import things in life. He was such a big help. We have a beautiful daughter now who keeps me busy and makes me realise that there is more to life than hair. I feel more empowered that I am myself, I have helped loads of people by doing some work with BBC news on alopecia, working with BBC sesh doing some sketches about the perks of alopecia (bring a positive vibe to the subject). Loads of people have messaged me and I have been able to guide them in the right direction to products, help, advice pages etc. It’s almost like I was given alopecia to help others going through the same thing. Although I felt awful at first, I did adapt very quick, I didn’t really have a choice. I'm the type of person who tries to make the most out of every situation and count my blessings. I'm still alive, still breathing. I have a roof over my head and friends and family who love me. It could be worse right?
I faced so many challenges at first. From not going out for weeks because I couldn’t come to terms with what I looked like. Not being able to answer the door, not feeling confident enough to go swimming or the gym. Getting used to wearing a wig, doesn't seem like much but when its not your own hair it gets so annoying and can come out of place, it can also become really itchy and irritating. At the time of loosing my hair 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 as I’ve always kept busy and liked earning my own income. It was challenging coming to terms with the fact I had no control over the situation. I like to be in control and know whats going on not having that, or any answers was so frustrating.
At first I hated myself and because I didn't have any answers I kept asking myself 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 couldn't control. I would walk off from a mirror and tell myself how ugly I was, how weird looking I was now. As time went on I sort of accepted the fact this is how I was going to look from now on, so 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 so there was nothing to worry about, a bunch of opportunities came my way since that photo such as 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. I have my days where I feel down and I still can't fully accept I’m like this, but I try my best. I put on my makeup, choose a wig, find an outfit that makes me feel better or do other things to occupy myself/make myself feel better.
I'm so 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 to be honest within today's society it is more acceptable to do whatever you please and express yourself in any way. I think if this was to happen to me years ago I would have had a more negative experience but in today's times people are more sensitive, understanding and have more 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.
Life is too short to be worrying, especially about the things you have no control over.
My advice to other women is; 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. Looking after yourself is really important. But don't beat yourself up about going a little wild 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 :)
Birthdays come around every year whether we want them to or not, and when you hit 25 they gradually start to bring you more and more pressure, a few more passing comments, ‘oh you are half way to 50’…’when are you going to settle down’. At 26, you’re closer to the big 3-0 than 20. Then roll on 27 and your 20s are looking more like a thing of the past. Laura had always quite liked the thought of being 26 years old. "Looking back, I remember being a wide eyed, worldly inexperienced 6-year-old and realising that, one day way off not so distant future, I would become 26 on the 26th July and I found this idea quite novel. I somehow knew back then that being 26 would rock and boy 6-year-old Laura wasn’t wrong." But now moving from 27 to 28 she is reflecting on yet another glorious year on this planet.
Amy turned 29 in May and has had a recent shift in her way if thinking about the dreaded 3-0…
‘Entering the last year of my 20's was an odd feeling, I felt like this was my last year to be young, to make mistakes and at 30 I should have my life together. Well this certainly isn't the case, purely just societies expectations making me feel this way. 20's, 30's, 40's...we are continuously learning and growing throughout life and there is no magic number that makes you an 'adult', no perfect moment where you sit there and think 'I'm here, everything is perfect and my life is complete'. Let’s face it, that would be boring, because then what would we do with ourselves. I am more excited than ever to turn 30, to get there and realise that when I wake up on my birthday I won't feel instantly different, or older, or incomplete, not having achieved the things I 'should have'. I will wake up, be grateful for another year and pour myself a large mimosa.
At the end of each calendar year we all tend to take the time to reflect, promise ourselves we will drop 5lbs, sign up for a gym membership we will stop using by February, NEVER DRINK AGAIN (until next time). We both like to do the same kind of thing each birthday. We feel like birthdays are a far more personal time to reflect on the past year, be grateful for what you have achieved and for the people in your lives. We like to set some goals and think about what our next year on this planet might look like.
Amy: My biggest life lesson this year would be learning the power of getting uncomfortable and leaning into uncertainty. I tend to need to know every little detail, ask anyone who knows me, I LOVE asking questions and digging deeper so I can fully understand things. In some respects, this is great, but when it comes to the big plan of 'life' there are too many unknowns. This initially didn't sit well with me, I needed to know where I would be, what I would be doing and when I would feel complete. I learnt very quickly that this doesn't exist, and instead of trying to find certainty in everything and everyone, I leant into uncertainty. It was unbelievably uncomfortable to let go, and I still have to teach myself everyday and remind myself that sometimes it's ok not to know how things will pan out, and that isn't a negative things, it is simply the beauty of life.
Laura: My biggest learning this year is that resting is just as an important part of the process (if not more important) as pushing forward and getting shit done. I started taking more time to listen to what my body was telling me and I hardly get ill now! I used to be one of those people who had tonsillitis every single month, sometimes multiple times. Now, I take days off when I feel I need to and it sets me up to be able to create my best work on the days when I feel good. You may think that means less work gets done but I have actually found the opposite! Warning: Its super important to find the balance and to know when you need to rest and when you are just procrastinating.
My goal for the next year is to help as many people as possible to achieve their own goals and to have massive impact on the lives of 30 people. I truly believe that having measurable goals is the way to achieve them. By saying 30 this gives me a number to work towards. And I can celebrate my wins along the way. This is something you might what to think about when goal setting.
A slice of Gratitude…
This year we feel so much gratitude. Gratitude for the opportunities that have arisen, the people we have met and the deep connections we have made.
We have met some wonderful beings and are grateful for everyone who has inspired us and helped us grow over the last 12 months.
We encourage you, no matter your age, to reflect on the past 12 months and make a list of everything you have achieved. Can’t think of anything; did you get a new job, a raise, keep your kids alive for another year, learn to bake a cake? It can be as big or as small as you like. Just start writing down all of your accomplishments may surprise you. It also feels pretty good to look at the list once you’re done.
Now you’ve reflected on your many achievements, think about the life you want to create for yourself in the coming 12 months and what steps can you take today to make it happen? Do you need to make more time to practice self care so you have the energy to do all the wonderful things you want to do? Take that next step right now. Want to learn how to drive? Research local instructors and get some prices. Want to travel? Open a separate savings account and look into where you want to go. Whatever your big goal is take a small step towards it right now. What are you waiting for?
Age is just a number and birthdays are going to come around no matter what so stop worrying about the things you can’t control and start living your life now.
It's the year 2020, the year that will go down in history as the world came to a stand still. Everyone was blessed with the time and space to pause (terrifying right?) and we realised a large chunk of our lives were being lived based on other people’s expectations of us. Just sat under a cloud of ‘should’s’- buying houses, getting married, having babies, you name it, we should have been doing it. After some long conversations, we (Amy and Laura) realised, we, and so many women alike, were bloody exhausted of living life this way!
We put our heads together to create something wonderful during the Covid-19 pandemic, not only a place to channel our own energy during the long lockdown days, but with the question in mind ‘Who can we help out of the other side?’. We have both taken the time to dive deeper within ourselves and have over come so much during this turbulent time, and before for that matter, teaching ourselves every day tools that we practice daily to make life a little less stressful. We are constantly working towards being the best versions of ourselves (Disclaimer: this is something we practice every single day, and we don’t always get it right). What you will start to see is that this is a one day at a time approach, small changes that we can all make to our daily routines that add up to a new found ownership over your own life.
When we first started creating, we asked each other
‘What do we have that we can give to others?’
It was quite simply, our mistakes.
We are on a mission to teach women, with limiting beliefs to move past those road blocks that are stopping you be the best version of you that you can be. We have spent years trying, failing and ultimately learning and we want to help you fast forward to the person you were born to be.
Our mission is to equip women with the skills and knowledge they need to fully believe in themselves every single day, emerging from our covid cocoons stronger and more resilient than ever!
To launch our mission, we are offering 4 free places on our 1:1 coaching programme...that's right completely 100% FREE (no catches, we just want to help you!) You can sign up now and find out more information on just how we can help you here. Remember this is a time of discomfort, so why not take that chance, seize the opportunity and find some comfort in your new community with us!
We have so much to come and we cannot wait to share it with you, if you don't feel ready for coaching, you can join our mailing list to get a fortnightly newsletter with useful tips and tricks that you can use everyday to Love Your Damn Self!