The All 4 Inclusion Pod

#14 There is more to Alopecia than being bald with Laura Mathias

June 22, 2022 Scott Whitney Season 1 Episode 14
The All 4 Inclusion Pod
#14 There is more to Alopecia than being bald with Laura Mathias
Show Notes Transcript

Imagine wearing a wig 24/7

What are the consequences to you physically?

Mentally?

Laura and I spend time talking about what it's like to have Alopecia as a teenager. How it impacts on you physically, mentally and your education.

Your self confidence is broken, so is your self esteem. When do you start showing people your head?

Who do you talk to about this?

Laura is a true role model, she inspires people on social media and is intelligent.

During this episode she opens up about her feelings when she first found out and growing up. A lot of what you can learn from Laura can be transferred to any disability.

But is Alopecia a disability? Tune in to find out

Laura Mathias | LinkedIn

View our website and join our mailing list on 

www.all4inclusion.org

Voiceover for intro and outro by Jennie Eriksen | LinkedIn

Music granted free of charge very kindly by Music: https://www.purple-planet.com . The track is called Hope and Inspire.

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Scott Whitney:

Hello, everybody, and welcome to the next edition of The All4Inclusion Pod. Today I am joined by Laura Mathias. Laura, how are you doing?

Laura Mathias:

Oh, I'm feeling a bit frazzled after a day of work, but you know all good

Scott Whitney:

Yeah. What's it been like with you? Because there's been a bit of sun in Manchester, which isn't normal.

Laura Mathias:

Anywhere above the Midlands, no, that's probably not normal. And now I'm down south. So there's been bonkers this week is every time I've gone to go for a walk. It's just started Absolutely. raining. I was gonna I was gonna use a rude word. Yeah, so I feel like I feel like the weather is against me. Every time I go to go for a walk. It's just suddenly miserable. And there's like a storm or something. So I don't know what's going on. But yeah,

Scott Whitney:

So maybe it's a sign you need to stay in?

Laura Mathias:

Yeah, I don't know about that. I think the whole working from home thing and not getting up from my computer is detrimental, I think to me, but maybe we can talk about that a bit.

Scott Whitney:

So first thing I kind of wanted to ask and I wanted to ask this a little bit before we go into new telling us a little bit about yourself. You're involved or enrolled or included in some sort of LinkedIn scheme or something? Can you tell us a little bit about that.

Laura Mathias:

Yeah, well, I mean, scheme makes it sound like I'm a witch so I can scheming ot something So it's the creators programme, which just means that I mean, the one thing that I will get across I, I push to make things happen for myself, they will not happen naturally. Especially I'm sure people can relate to this. When you are living with any disability or visible difference, you really have to self advocate at the best of times. So with LinkedIn, I realised when I started sharing more about my experience of being a woman with a visible difference. And I was thinking, is this the right platform? Maybe it's not all I don't know. And then I thought, no, screw it. If I do this, I want to do it properly. I want to you know, appeal to community on Instagram. Maybe I'm going to do this on LinkedIn now. So I basically kept pestering people on LinkedIn by having a quick search and working out who was who? And then eventually they said, Oh, yeah, we do have a bit of space. There is LinkedIn manager, as she's called. And her specialism is diversity and inclusion. So she had a look at my page. And she said, Oh, I can see you're trying hard. So yeah, sure, I'll add you to my roster. And it basically means I get a weekly email kind of telling me about what's on their news agenda. If they can, and I do a relevant post, they'll try and include it in their roundup hasn't happened yet. But it did happen once before I was officially a LinkedIn creator. But it's it's very early doors with the whole LinkedIn creator programme. So it sounds impressive, but I think they're still trying to work out what it actually means. So for me, I just feel it means that there's someone I can go to and ask questions to. And just kind of hear a bit more about what they're hoping to achieve with the platform.

Scott Whitney:

Yeah. Okay. So, so programmes the right word, as opposed to scheme. So I'll remember that ........I'll forget it you know, in 10 minutes,

Laura Mathias:

I think that was just in my head because I watched a documentary on witches last night. Scheming and conjuring so it's clearly just in my head.

Scott Whitney:

So I'm still regardless of whether you've had to kind of push a little bit for them to then see your content, see your profile and accepted you that's still absolutely, absolutely awesome. So tell us no, just you know, introduced to the listener, my mum, exactly who you are, and you know why you're here.

Laura Mathias:

Okay, so my name is Laura. I'm 31 years young. And when I was 12 years old, I started losing my hair due to the autoimmune condition, alopecia. And that progressed pretty quickly, until I was totally bald, and I'd be able to progress even further so that I have alopecia universalis, which means I have no hair on my body. So in many ways, it might seem, you know, it's not a life threatening condition, and I do appreciate that. But it has had a huge impact and created barriers in terms of how I feel I can succeed in life and go about, you know what other people do It would be deemed normal air quotes. And I do do air quotes and using that word because I hate that word. But yeah, having a visible difference, as I would call it has just made me have to think carefully all the time about how I approach situations, and I spent a long time hiding my difference. And recently, I've just started realising it's definitely better to embrace it. And I should say, as well, obviously, it's not the case of everyone. But with the autoimmune condition of alopecia, there are lots of kind of secondary things that come along with it. Like, you know, I have really bad eczema, severe asthma that tends to go hand in hand with other autoimmune things you'll find. And again, that's something that not many people with alopecia seem to talk about. So whilst Yes, alopecia is a visible difference, it does tend to mean your predisposition to have kind of other ongoing health conditions. And it's really hard to kind of communicate that with employers or even friends, when you're constantly worn down, or you're getting infections or whatever it is. So yeah, I'd say it's something that maybe people have heard of, but I think, what exactly like to live with alopecia, and often conditions is completely different.

Scott Whitney:

Yeah, excellent. And I'm hoping you're gonna be able to, to educate people listening and myself, hopefully, touch wood very shortly. So I wanted to kind of ask about one of your LinkedIn posts this week. So your LinkedIn post was along the lines in a poll. So that gives you a little bit of a heads up, as I'm saying it for for the people listening? Do you consider alopecia as a disability? Yes or no. So I will say that I was the first person who tipped Yes, on that. However, what is your opinion?

Laura Mathias:

So I think it's a really, really difficult question. And that's kind of why I posted it. Also, I've been intrigued to see, in terms of engagement, I think people are really apprehensive to engage with that question if they don't have personal experience, which is fair enough. But I kind of really hope that through, you know, your podcasts and things like this, we should be able to ask these questions, and you have a chat. So fundamentally, I would say, I think it's entirely subjective. This question, obviously, I am a woman with alopecia and eczema, for example. But I never say yes to having a disability, for instance, in a job application form. I was thinking about this and why I was intrigued what people thought, because often in that tick box in job applications, it says, a disability or a long term condition. And when they throw in that second bit, it's sometimes confuses me. Because I think, well, my longtime condition has impacted my ability to attend work, you know, I've worn wigs, you know, to the point where my head's been bleeding and sore and infected. And so I've not known what to do or how to go into the office, and I've made up excuses about being ill when actually it's dealing with being a wig wearer or not knowing how to cope with my alopecia. But ultimately, I say, No, I don't consider the condition of alopecia to be a disability under the medical model. But I do believe that having any visible difference, I should be protected legally, just like anyone else with a disability when it comes to things like hate crime or other kinds of legislation. So I feel like there is definitely grey area here, where we need to be thinking about things like alopecia visible difference, and how that kind of plays in to protecting those people.

Scott Whitney:

Yeah, no, that's fine. So I'm I ticked yes and I know you said if you, know, to put a comment as to why you've, you've put the answer, and I deliberately didn't. The reason I didn't is because we're speaking today, and I thought I can say why I ticked, yes. And I, I think if anyone's got a long term, health condition, it can be classed as a disability. I might be wrong. You know, I'm not an expert. But that's, that's what I've, that's the reason why I ticked Yes. But now you said visible difference, which is a term that I've not heard of before. Actually, you know, that's probably the word I would describe it as, however, you know, I would say, if I was an employer, and you ticked, On a disability because of because of the alopecia, and you're explaining what you've explained to, to me just now with, with your head bleeding and having to take time off through that, I would be saying, Yeah, actually, you know, do I need to support you slightly differently to someone else? I would say, Yeah, I would, because I would just be more I would be more flexible to saying, right, okay, you can work from home this day, you know, working from home is just a completely, you know, a topic we could probably talk about for ages. But I would just say, Look, just give me a call, you can work from home that day, or, you know, if it's a if it's a seven day a week, kind of job. Right. Okay, look, you do off on Saturday, why don't you swap your days or, you know, whatever it needs to be? I think there could be that support and flexibility. So I don't I would if I saw that, and, and having the kind of conversation we just had, I would go Yeah, you know, it could be

Laura Mathias:

That's interesting. But have you seen in job applications with lots a lot now as well, it says, If you tick the box, that you if you've got all the standard qualifications that they're looking for in a job application, it will guarantee interview. So I'm sure that that is a topic that you could talk about in a whole other podcast, whether you tick that box or not. Because obviously, that wouldn't be why I'd be ticking the box. But I worry that if they didn't then agree with my model of what disability is, they'd be like, if you just tick this box, you baldy to get the interview? .

Scott Whitney:

Yeah. And I guess, you know, you could protect yourself kind of halfway by, by not ticking the box. Because, you know, you, you're not trying to guarantee that interview, you want to be judged on your own merits the same as anyone. But you could turn up at the interview with like a disclosure letter or something like that, which would then, you know, at that point, you're kind of on par with, with everyone.

Laura Mathias:

Yeah, I find now that I'm trying to raise my condition and my experience in interview at the end, when there's any more questions. And I'm lucky that because of what I'm trying to do on LinkedIn, Instagram, and just generally campaigning for awareness for, you know, my visible differences, my conditions, it's luckily lending itself to the kind of jobs that I'm applying for indications. So it's quite handy. And I feel it's making me feel more confident that I'm bringing my authentic self to that interview.

Scott Whitney:

So let's go back, let's rewind quite a bit, going back to when you was in school. So obviously, you said, you know, he was 12 years old when the alopecia sort of came on? What can you remember? What was your first kind of reaction was? What was you thinking?

Laura Mathias:

I mean, I was just terrified. I just didn't understand. I think it was just panic. Because it there, there was something in builts I don't know where it comes from. But it was like, instant concern. Once the hairdresser pointed out a little 50 p sized smooth, bald patch. And then I was just obsessed. I couldn't stop feeling it. I was worrying about it until I could get that first doctor's appointment. It just I knew it wasn't, again, that word normal. You know, I was like, Well, I've not seen anyone else why? I thought older people start losing their hair or getting thinning hair. Why? At my age, it doesn't make any sense, you know? And then when I went to the doctor, it didn't, they didn't make me feel any better. There wasn't there wasn't a solution. There wasn't a treatment. It was just the kind of, Oh, lots of people get this. And I was like, Okay, so why haven't I heard of it? Why haven't my mom told me this, you know? And he was like, Oh, well, you know, you're going through a lot of stress because my parents are going through really messy divorce at the time. And he basically said, Oh, if you try and calm down, I'm sure it would grow back. So the emphasis was on me and they're like 12 / 13 year olds, to be told to manage my emotions better so that my hair was sort of falling out which was just horrible.

Scott Whitney:

So the kind of the medical thoughts are being passed to you is, this is either my fault for feeling stressed, or it's my parents fault for for being divorced or getting divorced. So what was your hair like, sort of length wise and stuff before? You know, before that was it was noticed,

Laura Mathias:

It was totally unremarkable photo, just mousy Brown. And actually, this is what's weird when I've been looking back at photos recently. And you know, I'm 31. So it's photos aren't like what they are now like the kids grow up today just gonna be like all over the internet and have so many photos of themselves. I bought like a few hardcopy printouts that my mom has an adorable somewhere. But looking back now, I can see that my hair is fairly kind of thin around that age group that was maybe already the alopecia taking place. And we didn't know yet. Or if my hair because when I was when I was younger. I mean, it was just, I remember it being quite thick, but maybe I've missed remembered. And maybe that's wishful thinking, because obviously, I've now lived more of my life as a bald woman than I have as someone with hair. Yeah. Which is crazy when I think about it. So it's really hard to remember but looking back at photos, you know, over the shoulder pretty cool. But I was at the hairdresser's that day when she discovered the bald mark because I was having my hairstyle, but I was getting it straightened. You know, I was just going into my teenage years, it was all about trying to make the most of what I had. And this was as a girl with, you know, I was overweight with eczema. So my hair was kind of my crowning glory. Yeah. Yes, awful. But then I was like, really? On top of everything else.

Scott Whitney:

Yeah. And I guess kind of, like I said, you get in it styled. And then, you know, at the time, you're probably thinking, well, actually, I can't have this style now or I can't have that style. Although now that's, you know, that's here nor there. But sure, that had a bit of a bit of a, you know, thought going through your mind at the time.

Laura Mathias:

Yeah, 100%. It was, it was just something that I was not emotionally able to think about. It was too much for me to understand what to do with it. You know, if there's too much going on in your brain as that age anyway, you know, you're in high school, boys have suddenly gone from being your friends to suddenly like talking about your appearance. So it's really, the barriers are already there. They're already starting because you're being judged on the way you look. And that hadn't been an issue for me growing up. And in primary school, I was really outgoing, loud, you know, like confident girl. And that all of a sudden, the fact that I was, you know, overweight, I had glasses I had, all of a sudden all these things that hadn't been an issue before I'd hadn't. I've just taken them in my stride. They started crippling me in the sense that and I'm sorry, that is maybe the wrong word to use. But again, it's that terminology that we're aligning, that we shouldn't be using when we're talking about disability, but I've just realised, but I thought when I use that word crippling in the sense that it literally stopped me doing things I felt unable to do things because I was ashamed of being judged. Or I would make myself unwell when I'm talking about things like the eczema, you know, wearing wigs all day, to the point where I had open sores on my head rather than just embrace being bald.

Scott Whitney:

So when was it you you first wore a wig?

Laura Mathias:

So after that first bald patch started growing and joining up until basically, I was trying to style my hair everyday to cover what was basically nothing going on underneath just the top layer of air. And it was awful. When I stopped going to school, I stopped leaving the house. And that was about six months of just refusing to go out or leave the house. I can't remember much about that period. Other than I did a lot of sitting on an exercise bike in front of the TV, I lost a lot of weight. And I was clearly not coping with everything that was happening in my life. When it got to it was the start of a new academic year after about six months of just shutting down and not dealing with all all of this. And so I said to my friends, I will go back to school, of course I have to go back. I'm going into year 10. Now like I'm going to start my GCSEs so I went back wearing hats and headwear. And I was terrified and I remember my mom dropping me off but my friends were they were really happy to see me and that was really nice. But obviously I looked really different. I'd lost a lot of weight. I put it all back on again now but you know, as a teen it like it was I looked different and I wasn't happy I was I've gone from being this happy chubby you know laughing outgoing girl to being effectively a shell of myself because of everything that had been going on with my hat off, and I went back for a week wearing hats. I found it really difficult. So many questions, people asked me to remove my hat, it was always causing more problems. So then I said to my mom, I need to shave my head and get a wig now, because what's left with my hair is not covering my head. So I went back to the hairdresser, and she shaved my head after hours so that when no one else in the salon, and then this week that I'd managed to find a wig that was far too big for me. Yeah, literally would come down to at my eyebrows is ridiculous. What was left of my eyebrows. Yeah, I literally did not take that wig off. Or a variation of that wig in public until this time two years ago. So 17 years of wearing wigs every single day, every minute of every day, whilst with people. But the thing is, as soon as I was at home and in private, the relief of just you know, just being myself and just not having it on. That was always my go to.

Scott Whitney:

Yeah, yeah. And sort of then when you was in school, then how did it, How do you think it impacted? A, Although it might sound obvious question A upon your mental health, and then B upon your your education.

Laura Mathias:

Yeah, so mental health wise, you know, hugely, like I said, developing alopecia. And then how I kind of didn't cope with it, and then wearing a wig for all different kind of stages of the same overriding mental health problem, which was being a young person that suddenly didn't look like everyone else, you know, all my peers. And I just felt totally on my own. And, you know, I know that people say, fake it till you make it again, at that age, it's just too much. And, you know, I did keep going to school, and I stuck with my friends. But if I look back, I feel so sad thinking how painfully insecure and distracted I was wearing a wig even so we've gone from, you know, covering my head off to them. The anxiety around wearing a wig and what if it falls off? And how do I do PE and I'll know the boys are gonna know. And yeah, or really, it's really a flippin uncomfortable, you know, really. Especially in summer, it's like a hat a pair, you know, it's just awful. Yeah, mental health wise. I, I hated being bald, and I hated being the girl with the wig. I did not feel there was a version of myself that I liked. And it consumed my thoughts all day, every day. And I'm at school, like you say, to be getting my education to be learning. And I was just constantly worrying. But somehow, luckily, I mean, maybe I'm naturally academic, or whatever. But I was lucky that, you know, I managed to do well in my GCSEs and a levels and went on to uni and stuff. And that's why we've managed to do okay with and actually, I'm definitely more of a humanities person. You know, I went on to study film, literature University. And I do wonder if the experience or wasn't going on with my family, and then the alopecia yet and everything. Maybe that kind of gave me more empathy, or it just really kind of I just had so much internal dialogue, that maybe my essays at GCSE level, looking back, mortified, you know, maybe that was able to come out or something. But yeah, so my education could really have been affected, and I'm sure it was, but I'm lucky that somehow I pulled it back.

Scott Whitney:

Yeah. Excellent. Yeah. And then if we're kind of talking about you know, when was the first time a friend or someone saw you without without a wig on?

Laura Mathias:

Oh, oh, that's a really tough one. Because obviously, you know, so I know I'm wearing a bandana now, but I didn't even like being able in front of my mom or my sister. Like I say, I mean, like when I say I'd be bald at home. I mean, like, even back then I was in a bandana. Which because it was almost like I didn't want to upset my mom more. I didn't want people to see me. Even Yeah, so I can't genuinely made I don't think anyone saw me completely bald. And maybe, maybe my first proper boyfriend. Yeah, like, I mean, I had a boyfriend in uni, but I didn't even tell him that I was wearing a wig. Until like seven months into our relationship. That's how intense my anxiety was about my visible difference. was so probably Yeah, in my mid 20s. And I was in my first real serious relationship. And I really kind of made this big song and dance. I was big secret. I have to tell him I'm looking back on my bloody hell or what were you doing? Like, it's not like I made it such a big deal. And it kind of made him anxious. I think it made him think it was going to be viewed. In response to your question I actually can't pinpoint the first moment I let someone to do that. It probably was in the last six years or so.

Scott Whitney:

And did your? Did your friends know? Like when you was kind of in the GCSE year and a levels that they know you was wearing a wig?

Laura Mathias:

Yes, yeah. Okay, because I came back to the same school, because I came back wearing hats with really thin hair on me. And then I went away for a week and then came back with a big, thick, very wiggy looking head of hair. Yeah, they knew but it was like the worst kept secret, everyone knew that they knew that I didn't want to talk about it. So like to see people looking, I could see people whispering that they wouldn't talk to me about it. And I didn't want to talk about it. And again, looking back. And now you know, sometimes volunteering with charities like alopecia UK, I'm really keen to think, how are young people going through this today? And what advice would I give them? And how would I have done things differently? You know, what I don't think they need my advice to the younger people of today that are going through alopecia, I'm just seeing all of what they're doing and how they're just embracing who they are, you know, some days going to school wearing a wig, some days not or wearing a wig most of the time and then whipping it off to pee. And I'm just like, Oh, my God, like the confidence.

Scott Whitney:

So it could almost be flipped around. And maybe the younger you needed, the younger people today's advice. So yeah, I mean, it's it's one of those where, you know, how would you think you'd have reacted? If, say, it was just you and your best friend now, a close friend in a room, and they kind of broach the subject with you, do you think you would have kind of broke down because you really didn't want to talk about it? Or do you think if it was done in the right way, it might have sort of supported you and helped you.

Laura Mathias:

I think 100% asking questions or speaking about it in a kind way, I think I would have felt relieved. I was desperate to talk about it really. I used to, but I wasn't I thought it was my way of dealing with it. But it was just me not dealing with it. I was just burying my head in the sand my big bald head in the sand. I just wasn't dealing with it, you know. And then when I started thinking about I mean, now you can't shut me up talking about it. Because because it makes me feel so much better to be able to put into words the impact that it has. Yeah, I don't want anyone else to be suffering in silence. And it is suffering when you feel you are hiding kind of a version of yourself or that you you're just ashamed to be who you are. Because, you know, I used to go to sleepovers with friends when I was a teenager and I'd sleep overnight in my wig. Like I said, it was I mean, genuinely not okay, like the state of my head, I would have to recover for like two days afterwards, because my head would be infected and open and, and that's probably because I have such bad eczema as well. So the combination of alopecia and eczema really not a good, not a good mix. I would have loved for and I still do when people approach with genuine curiosity and wanting to understand. I'm happy to talk about my condition.

Scott Whitney:

Yeah. I mean, I just think if I was, you know, in school, and one of my friends had a condition or something, I could see them kind of suffering, I would have probably been really nervous in the kind of build up to kind of doing it and I'd probably had the opportunity to do it two or three times and check out. And then, you know, eventually, you know, I like to think of would have had that, that conversation mainly to you know, really just help help them, give them something to someone calling myself a thing, someone to talk to and, and unload on at the time.

Laura Mathias:

I think because the thing I say is one of the biggest things was the loneliness because, you know, no one around me seemed to have alopecia. There was no one represented in the media that I could look up to really. No one was talking about it. So you're right, as soon as if someone had been speaking to me if one person That that would have definitely helped that element of the mental health.

Scott Whitney:

So what was in what was uni? Like? was? Was you held back in ways? Or did you miss out on any parts of it?

Laura Mathias:

I mean, I missed out on things because I refuse to remove my wig. When so things like friends, you know, would be organising going to a theme park and I would make up excuses why I couldn't go even though it was my group of best friends. And I would love to go and celebrate someone's birthday. I couldn't bring myself to, you know, explain why, for lots of people. I remember a few months later, after this particular birthday, I did one on one explain to that friend. Yeah, I went through most of uni. And I probably told maybe a handful of people. And now looking back and talking to some of my friends who are you know, going to their weddings this year and stuff, you know. And they are genuinely so proud and happy for me about how I now embracing while a future. And it's so interesting to hear their perspective. Because they were like, we, we kind of knew you were wearing a wig. It was pretty obvious. And I might back it if someone had said that to me. And I have had people say that to me, you know, years ago, that would have been so anxiety inducing to hear that that's my worst nightmare. Yeah. Because I always said what would be the point of wearing a wig all the time if I just looked so obviously different, you know. But now, I chose how far I've come because I'm I just feel I just feel sad. But I wasted that time. Saying no to opportunities, saying no to things, you know, impacting my relationships. So romantic and friendship, because there was this big thing that I felt I had to take from people. And it really did affect how I saw my value, because kind of what I was saying, at the beginning, when we started chatting about, you know, you are kind of your judge Bates, your value is often tied up with how you look and how you present. Yeah, and that is really, it's just wrong. Not helpful. And yeah, I just didn't think very highly of myself.

Scott Whitney:

Yeah. And did you did you lose friends? Do you think I've spoken to a few people recently, and they feel that they've lost friends because of not being able to do

Laura Mathias:

Yeah, I think there's that thing when, when things? you've got something that you're ashamed of, or that physically prevents you doing things, you know, in my case, not putting myself in situations where I could remove my wig or we're scared of losing my wig. I became, in my mind very high maintenance. I couldn't easily go sleep over places. I've never been to a festival all these things because of my alopecia and ecxma, but I just would be like, No, I can't do that. That's not for me. I can't do camping. I can't I'm not gonna stay over there all holidays and strangers unless I've got an ensuite, I don't know how I'm going to do that. You know, and in my head, I just never considered that you could just be yourself. You could just tell them that you have bad eczema and alopecia. And that you need sleep or whatever, you know, like you just have to self advocate. Just set your boundaries and people can either accept it or they can't. But I think you potentially I do see how potentially I kind of drove people away because I wouldn't. I was apologetic to apologetic for my boundary. And so I became the high maintenance friend. Yes, true friends and your real friends they should understand. And they do understand that I'm very lucky I have some amazing friends that even some of my best friends a couple of them even though they've seen my head now at its worst and obviously I'm so open on social media when I have an extra flare up on my scalp or you know when my head to toe uncovered an eczema and I'm like I can't put a wig on today is awful. I feel crap. Even then, when there's times that they've wanted me to do something I've been like that. I can't I need a rest day. I just need a day to recover. I feel like that I owe typical flaky Laura and you will get some people that are like that that went under.

Scott Whitney:

Yeah. So it kind of you know, you've thrown me a little bit there because I was gonna go one direction and now I want to go another but I'm gonna stick I think in the in the direction I was gonna go. So what what was the reason? Then you met you just went right? I'm just telling everyone.

Laura Mathias:

I'm I really wish I had a pithy answer to you. But I don't it wasn't like a lightbulb moment. It was it was probably a really It's gradual, you know, I'm 31 now, and I was 12 / 13, when I started losing my hair, that is a long time of hiding. So it was probably like a pressure cooker, you know, just building up and up and up. And over the last kind of few years, you know, even maybe being in serious relationships with people. So having an opportunity to speak more openly, like you said, even with one person and kind of be bored with that person and vulnerable with that person. That was all leading up to what was effectively the closest thing I can think of being that pandemic moment and everyone working from home, and everyone's routine was completely disrupted. And I no longer had to get up every single day, put my makeup on, draw my eyebrows on chuck hair on to exist and go out. Because my whole world was suddenly just at home. And at home, I'm used to being covered in moisturiser without a wig on, you know, like, it's my space. So it was like, those two things colliding, the home version of me. And then the public facing me. And the divide was suddenly less obvious. And I basically was just spending more time on social media because I live on my own. And it was terrifying. You know, when they first announced lockdown, wasn't it, you know, just thinking of God, what am I going to do? So like lots of people, I spend more time on social media discovered all these other incredible people, you know, really owning their difference and embracing it, whether that be hair loss, or any kind of visible difference. And I just got inspired. And I thought, if they can do it, why can't I? What's the worst thing that can happen? If somebody that I used to go to school with was following me on Instagram, sees me post this full picture, what's the worst thing that can happen? Is that boy that I can't see, he didn't know I'm more aware of the uni, is now going to see this. Because what does it matter? What matters is what I think about myself and other people that have got alopecia or the conditions that I have. Yeah. So

Scott Whitney:

how does it feel then? That you've seen people, and they've inspired you. And now you're inspiring hundreds of others.

Laura Mathias:

I can't quite get my head around it that people might feel how I did, but I know it must be true, because I know. I know just how it felt, seeing anybody posting a picture without their wig when I was at that stage with my mental health and my anxiety. So it feels amazing. And I hope that that's how it is. I mean, I've had a couple of messages you know, from the biggest kind of best feeling is when it's like I've had a mum or two messaged me on Instagram, saying that they show my videos to like they're even have like a toddler that's completely bald spot alopecia totalis. And, and just knowing that their mom is going out of their way to show them examples of women like me, and that, that video of me, prancing about and within the wig off may seem really silly and self indulgent to someone else. But knowing that that little toddler is going to see that and think, Oh, that girl looks like me or look at her. He's confident she's happy. She's laughing to dancing. Yeah, that makes it totally worth well.

Scott Whitney:

Excellent. Excellent. And I think there's, there's a point where, you know, you're not just inspiring people with alopecia. You know, I think you you're inspiring people kind of with disabilities in general. You're inspiring, abled bodied people. I think you're inspiring just people with low self esteem. So I think you're inspiring a lot more than just people with with alopecia. So, so yeah. So I would just say, keep doing what you're doing. Because you know, I'm inspired by by your posts that you put on LinkedIn. So so yeah.

Laura Mathias:

Thank you. That's, that is really, really lovely. So thank you.

Scott Whitney:

Now that I've got so much more I want to ask you. We're running out of time. And we did a podcast, which has not long gone out. But it'll be about six weeks ago, by the time this one comes out. Where it went down really well with people. And I've had other people messaging me to ask questions to that person again. So would you be happy to come back again in two or three weeks after this podcast goes out? out because I think we'd need to touch upon work life. I think work is definitely a big subject. But I'm sure there's other people who have got questions for you. And, and I would love to be able to put those questions to you as well.

Laura Mathias:

100% course I'd be happy to come back. Yeah.

Scott Whitney:

Excellent. So, I always wrap up with, you know, asking you for just one final other bit of advice or, or just one final thing, just to leave it on.

Laura Mathias:

Okay, well, I'd say just embrace who you are, whatever that looks like, whatever that feels like, however, that presents. Even if you think the world's not ready for it, you will feel so much happier being your authentic self, then desperately trying to hide it or mask each and every day.

Scott Whitney:

Excellent. Thank you. So thank you, Laura. Thank you, everybody for listening. That is it for the or for inclusion pod. Tune in next week. And yeah, thank you very much, Laura.

Laura Mathias:

Thank you.