A lot of people rarely understand Alopecia Areata or what causes it. Those that suffer with the disease don’t really know where to go for help. I had alopecia for about 31 years! It started with small patches, which would come and go, but in later years it took hold and the patch extended to cover about a third of my head.
I spent $10,000 on pills, potions and applications. I understand hair loss from experience - the bigger the problem gets, the more desperate you feel!
You keep thinking - Why is this happening to me? - What’s going to happen next? - Will it eventually move right over my head? - How can I go to work with no hair?
Going to the hairdresser was a nightmare because I felt everyone was looking at me, the lady in the corner with the big bald patch. Getting tangled up with the nor’west winds that we experienced quickly reminded me that I needed to hold down what I had left so I would not be stared at.
In those early days I really thought that I was coping because I was able to cover it quite well, but looking back now I know that it had been eating away at my confidence and I was becoming over-sensitive about it.
I was eventually referred to Dr. David Nicholls, a Christchurch dermatologist. He was very supportive and began treating me with steroid injections and minodoxdil. To our frustration, my patch was still been getting bigger. I was getting some hair growth, but the problem was starting to extend across my head. I had also been experiencing a lot of stress at work and both Dr. Nicholls and I felt that this could be contributing to why I wasn’t responding to the treatment. It was a vicious cycle.
When you have upset or trauma in your life, it triggers any medical conditions including Alopecia, and the more you see the patch getting bigger, the more you worry. You really do feel quite helpless.
Dr. David Nicholls eventually referred me to Hair Therapy Christchurch. I will always remember my first visit. I hadn’t been there long and Kevin (the business owner at that time) put a black hairpiece on my head. It didn’t match my look at all, but I could instantly see that there was a solution to my problem.
The wig subsidy from the Ministry of Health was enough to provide one hairpiece or partial wig, with some leftover to put towards a second wig. I had hesitated enquiring about any kind of hair filler, hairpiece or wig before because I wasn’t ready to cover up what was left. I had no idea that a hairpiece could be attached to the side of my head!
As a result of my new hairpiece, I was more confident and people kept telling me they could notice the difference. Another interesting thing is that since I had stopped worrying about having Alopecia Areata, there was some new hair growth!
Once my new hairpiece (or 'wig') became comfortable for me, and a real part of my life, I found the confidence to be a better me. I told my story at the opening of the new premises for Hair Therapy several years ago, in gratitude for all they had done for me. The fact that I was able to tell my story at all was to me an indication that I was coping better that I ever thought possible. I knew there is no way that I would have spoken about this to anyone six months prior.
The referral from Dr. David Nicholls changed my life. My experience at Hair Therapy showed me what I really wanted to do with my life. I was determined to provide this service of hair loss solutions, using my own unique understanding of what I had been through. This has enabled me to go beyond simply offering people a service, into making real life changes, simply through treating people the way I wanted to be treated.
There is no shortage of funny stories along my journey, one occurred four years before I became the proud owner and manager of Hair Therapy Wigs in Christchurch. At that time I met an outstanding hair dresser called Anna, and I told her, as I had been telling everybody, that I will one day own a wig salon to help people, and I asked her would she like to come and work for me when that happened. She said yes! And amazingly enough, four years later I did, and she did! And we are now both part of a very special team.
Thank you for reading my story. I hope that I have helped you understand how I got to where I am, and how my team and I can help you in your journey.
I know that there is great joy and success on the other side of adversity, with the help of people like my team and myself, who genuinely care. My business is making a difference to people’s lives. I am living my dream.
~ Diane Watson.