My Journey

For 52 years I had a full head of hair, and like most women it was my pride and joy.  I had never heard of Alopecia and never in my wildest dreams did I think it would happen to me.

For 10 years I was a teacher and progressed to Head of Faculty for Business studies and Information Technology.  During this time I discovered my skill at dealing with troubled teenagers, so when the opportunity came for me to become a Pastoral Manager I jumped at the chance.  Every day was different – dealing with children coping with bereavement, disgruntled parents, angry teachers, upset children, removing disruptive students from classrooms, child protection, and the list was endless – I became a referee, negotiator, police officer, nurse and counsellor.  I loved the challenge, the pace of the job and on the outside I remained calm, but inside maybe I was not?

I am happily married (37 years and counting), we have two fabulous sons and three gorgeous grandchildren.  They live about an hour away and so we see them most weeks which is great.  My hobbies are painting and gardening and have had a range of other activities I have tried which included learning how to pole dance!!  I hasten to add that this was part of a fitness drive to improve my strength, not a career move.

When my Alopecia struck I found it increasingly difficult to continue with my hobbies. As I walked across a windy playground to speak to a student I would have to hold onto my wig.  If there was a fight that I needed to stop – what would I do if during the scuffle my wig fell off?   My shop-bought wigs slipped around when I bent down to garden and I ended up with mud on my face and wig when I pushed it back into place.  I was frightened that if one of the grandchildren played with my hair, they could pull my wig off which may frighten them, so I avoided getting too close to them.  My exercise routine stopped as I found it difficult to exercise with a wig on.  On one occasion my female trainer encouraged me to take my wig off.  I was very self-conscious, but did so and as I hung upside down on the pole, a delivery guy wandered into the gym!!  What a sight – a bald, middle-aged woman hanging upside down on a pole!

I decided to take a break from my career as a Dr suggested my hair loss could be down to stress.  Slowly I began to become more and more withdrawn from my “old life”.  I could not see any future joy or happiness.  One day my husband came across a blog from someone else who had Alopecia and I contacted her.  After talking for nearly 2 hours she told me she wanted to start an Alopecia Research charity and would I be interested in becoming a trustee.  This was a turning point for me as at last I was doing something to try and find a cure.  www.aar-uk.org was born and I have dedicated myself to progressing the charity forward.  We have been able to support a Biobank in Glasgow dedicated to taking samples from people with Alopecia together with many other projects in the pipeline.  Recently we have been holding talks with Alopecia UK about merging which is another exciting development.

During this time I was also introduced to Freedom wigs and I can honestly say since my first wig I have never looked back.  I resigned from my job and have changed my life completely.  Exercise – no problem,  gardening – my garden has never looked better, grandchildren – I am back to being a Nana again.  They know I wear a wig and occasionally ask to see my bald head.  I am happy to do this as I feel confident and beautiful again.