We were contacted recently by Suzanne Bryden, a woman living with Alopecia Universalis, to let us know about an upcoming TV appearance on a Channel 5 TV show called 'Rich Holiday, Poor Holiday'. Suzanne wanted to let others with alopecia know about her upcoming appearance. We caught up with her to find out more!

Please tell us a little about your experience with alopecia..

I first suffered from Alopecia as a teenager. At that point it was sporadic and nothing more than the occasional small patch which could go unnoticed. It wasn't until five years ago, following quite a stressful period in my life, that the hair loss became noticeable and within six months I had lost all hair including eyelashes and eyebrows. I was diagnosed with Alopecia Universalis. Initially I was against the idea of wearing a wig and wore a cap. However I eventually decided to try wearing a wig and haven't looked back since. I instantly felt more like my old self and now enjoy wearing a wig.

For anyone who hasn’t watched ‘Rich Holiday Poor Holiday’, what happens in the show?

It is a reality show in which two different groups, from different ends of the wealth divide, swap holidays. My friend and I were chosen to be sent on the 'Rich Holiday'. In the show, I discuss my hair loss journey in parts and the difficulties this brings, as well as the reality of wearing a wig on a daily basis.

Were there any challenges relating to your alopecia in taking part?

The challenges arose during some of the activities we took part in, making sure I didn't lose my hair whilst in a hot air balloon. The weather was also particularly hot so that of course can be uncomfortable at times. I also got the impression the tv producer would have liked me to go wig-free on camera. I had however stated this was not something I was keen to do, despite being quite open about my hair loss.

Overall, how did you find the experience of taking part in the show? And did you enjoy the holiday?

The overall experience was great. My friend and I had a great trip and experienced things we wouldn't have usually done, including dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant and a visit to a local palace for wine tasting, as well as some more adventurous pursuits.  

How do you feel about the fact that you had the opportunity to talk about your alopecia as part of the show?

To have a great holiday was a good enough reason to take part in the show but I was also keen to discuss the impact of Alopecia, particularly for anyone who may be going through the early stages of hair loss. I found it tough when I was first shedding hair and now, a few years later, the struggle is not half as bad. I was keen to get across that Alopecia doesn't need to be something that prevents you doing what you want in life and you are still the same person. If anything, it can be strengthening in many ways. There is no shame to being someone who has Alopecia and you can decide what's best for you in terms of wearing wigs etc. I can't imagine having to spend hours blow drying my hair.  I'm also grateful i've not had to shave my legs in years!! Alopecia has its plus points! I love my wigs (buying them either online, from wig banks or via NHS prescription). I am also looking into having a custom-made wig which I am really excited about! I also use magnetic eyelashes and have had my eyebrows semi-permanently tattooed. It's great that there are so many options available to help! 

Which episode do you appear in and when can people watch it? 

Our holiday is due to feature in Episode 4 on Sunday 7th February at 9pm on Channel 5.