My name is Michele, I am 52 and I have had alopecia on and off all through my life. It started when I was in high school and as you might imagine for me, back then, it was horrible. Some kids tried to pull my wig off which made high school a horrible time. The doctors tried everything. I had lots of tests and my mum and dad spent a fortune on treatments you would never have thought of. They took me to a hairdresser who massaged my scalp then put iodine on it, I looked like an egg lol. I had sun lamp treatments at the hospital, blood tests, you name it we tried it. My mum and dad were told my hair loss could have been caused by the shock of my dad leaving to work on oil rigs.

My parents spent so much money on real hair wigs for me which was amazing, but then my doctor gave us a letter for the hospital and then I got an appointment and was able to get them on prescription. When I was in my late teens, my hair grew back which was fantastic. When I had my wonderful daughter at 20, well guess what, yep, my hair fell out again but this time around, I lost it all. I have been living with Alopecia Totalis for over 30 years and do you know what, I love it!  I have two beautiful grandchildren and the oldest one only knows me with no hair.  When I have my hat, wig or bandana on she says ‘Take it off’ , which is fine because she doesn’t know me with hair, but when its special occasions I wear my hat.

I love swimming, walking, and a little running and when I’m doing these things I wear my bandana or baseball cap. When I am at home though I don’t wear anything on my head at all, even in the garden when my neighbours see me and are all absolutely fine with it, it’s just me.

I have worked with children for over 20 years and I love it. It has been fine working with children but as you know sometimes they want to play with your hair or they touch your hair. They look at you as if something isn’t right or ask questions but I just tell them the truth and say “Michele doesn’t have hair so I wear pretend hair” and that is all it takes. Kids are so good and just accept it and then get on with the day in nursery. The staff are so amazing about my alopecia as well. We have recently purchased the children’s story books on alopecia as one child was asking me a lot of questions. I spoke to the management and we decided to purchase the story books to help to explain to the children.

Going on holiday is fine for me as I just wear my bandana and baseball cap. I feel that it doesn’t matter if it’s a beach holiday or a city break because no one knows me and I don’t bother. I have had the odd person ask how I am and how my treatment is going to which I reply “I’m one of the lucky ones” and then leave it at that.

When I am going out with friends or other people I tend to just wear the basic makeup. I have tried the eyebrow stencils but OMG it’s difficult so I have given up on that. Putting on false eyelashes is another OMG moment for me so I don’t bother, although at my daughter’s a few weeks ago a makeup artist asked me if I would like eyelashes. I was like a kid in a candy store! ‘YES please’, a huge smile came across my face. Everyone commented positively on my make-up which was so kind. Friends have said to me to get my eyebrows tattooed but I’m too scared. I had one tattoo when I was forty and I nearly passed out with the pain so I think I will just have a blank face!

I must admit I wish I could go to the hairdressers and get my hair washed and sorted, but as I say to people going to get a new wig is my hairdressers! Trying on the new styles, different colours, it is a lot of fun! I took my wee granddaughter with me so she could see where I got my “hats” (wigs) from and she loved it.

If I could write a letter to my alopecia it would say: -

Dear Alopecia,

You and I have been living with each other for a long time now. We have been through some ups and downs in that time. We have had some sad moments which I have come through. We have always been there for each other, and you have made me the person I am today. You made me realise that not having hair isn’t a problem, it’s just who I am. I now embrace my baldness but it has taken me a long time to get to this point. Whatever else life throws at me, I know I will always have you there by myside, so thank you for coming into my life and making me the strong person I am today.

Love Michele xx