Losing all my hair helped me learn to really love myself fully

May 23, 2016 at 12:00 p.m. ET
Image: Sanah Jivani

It was Spring Break of my 7th grade year when lost my entire head of hair. Each morning, I would wake up surrounded by it. All over my pillow, the sheets, the floor. As I grabbed the chunks of hair that fell off of my head, I couldn’t breathe. My head felt light, and my heart felt heavy.

My dermatologist explained my condition: Alopecia Universalis. It wasn't going to grow back.

As he explained: “Alopecia is a disease that makes your body think hair is a disease, so you are constantly fighting it off. In a way, it’s like you’re allergic to your own hair.”

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I was despondent. With every strand of hair, I had lost a strand of confidence, and I was left with absolutely nothing.

My first move was to buy a wig. My second, sadly, was to begin a life long battle with depression and self-harm. I was bullied mercilessly. From an online BurnPage made about me to a note in my locker titled “50 ways to go kill yourself." I wondered if I should.

But then I realized something else: The only way out of this was to learn to like myself. I wrote myself kind notes to battle those bullying ones. “I am worthy,” I told myself every time I passed a mirror. Those affirmations may seem silly to some, but they saved my life. And when I was 14, I ditched the wig for good.

I used social media and a video to tell others my story and rather than hate, I got love. I got acceptance. I heard others share their own stories of bullying and depression and suicidal thoughts. I had something to share. My own experience could help others. What a miracle it was to see my worth staring me in the face.

Since then, I’ve started a non-profit organization called The Love Your Natural Self Foundation. It’s a organization dedicated to helping individuals build confidence.

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When I lost my hair, I felt like I lost a big piece of myself. For a long time, my Alopecia defined my self-worth. I feel like my life began the moment I let something else define it. Love. Self-love. And pride. I am so proud to be me. I love myself. Without my conditions, I'd never have learned this kind of grace, kindness, and self-confidence. I feel grateful for the journey every day — Alopecia and all.

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