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My Spiritual Journey

Bob Hershberger
Bob Hershberger

My Spiritual Journey

Hello to all my fellow alopecia areata friends. My name is Bob. I noticed in some previous newsletters that some people developed alopecia areata during their junior year in high school. Since I did, too, I thought I’d tell my story.

In the summer before my junior year, I developed alopecia areata. A friend’s sister noticed that I had a bald spot about the size of a dime, and when I looked in the mirror, it was true. I didn’t think anything about it at first. Then all of a sudden there was another spot, and then of course those spots grew until they met each other. The next thing I knew, I had big patches of missing hair everywhere. My mom, bless her heart, took me to a dermatologist who said I should put urine on the bald spots. Well, I did, but to no avail. I went back, and the dermatologist gave me some cream to put on the bald spots, but to my dismay that didn’t work. I felt like a freak since I had never met anybody with this condition. This was in 1970. I was almost 16 at the time, and I’m 52 now.

I remember that when I’d take a bath, the tub would be filled with my hair, as my hair was pretty thick before this started. Every day when I got up I’d look in the mirror and say, “Why me?” Every single day. It was horrifying. At the time my junior year of high school was coming up, and I didn’t want to go to school looking like I did. My parents said I was going to school no matter what, so I went and tried to get a wig. When I tried it on, it was so funny looking I cried. So I didn’t get it. Then I tried to do a “comb over” to hide the bald spots, but they just kept growing to the point where I couldn’t hide them anymore. I truly thought I was doomed for life. Of course no girl wanted anything to do with me. At that point I started wearing a beanie hat to cover my head. There was a rule that no hats were allowed in school, but the teachers somehow knew and made an exception for me. Then one day I went into a class and there were six girls sitting there, all with the exact same hat as I had, making fun of me. That was a new low point in my journey.…

I was walking home one day when I heard a little voice telling me I was on a spiritual journey. I said, “Yeah… well, you don’t have to live like this." I wondered if I was loosing my mind. A lot of people at school thought I had had brain surgery or something. At home, my brothers would throw rolled up socks at my bald spots and say “off the top,” and my sister changed my name from Bob to Bulb. Even my so-called friends would pull off my hat and show people my hair—or lack of hair. How rude! I didn’t think it could get any worse, but at the senior party someone took my hat for a beer collection, leaving me completely exposed. I thought I was going to die. It was then that I decided that everybody already knew anyway so, what the heck, . . . NO MORE HAT! I said, “If you don’t like me just as God made me then that’s okay; I don’t need any friends that shallow anyway.”

I started going out looking like anybody else with alopecia areata would. People stared at me like I was a freak, but I refused to hide myself anymore. That little voice in my head said to me, “Just be your self.” It was like a crummy poker hand. If you are dealt a crummy hand that doesn’t mean you can’t win the whole pot. I’m not sure why, but about four months after I decided to bare myself to society some little white fuzz eventually started to grow in. A little later the hair returned to my original color and slowly grew back in.

Back then I had not seen anybody else who had alopecia areata nor did I know of a support group. About five years after my hair grew back in, I saw a newspaper article about people with alopecia areata. There were stories of people who had done horrible things because they couldn’t bare the grief of it all. It brought back some terrible memories, so I almost put down the paper, but I eventually read it all. At the end of the full page article, it said that one percent of the population gets alopecia areata, and one percent of the one percent finds spiritual happiness. It was then that I realized that I had acquired spiritual happiness. During the time I was bald in patches, I had looked inwardly at the real me, instead of the superficial things on the outside, and I had learned to follow that voice inside me, which always takes me to places that are tied to the Lord. It had turned into a very special spiritual journey, which I still enjoy to this day. Believe it or not, having alopecia areata actually turned out to be the very best thing that has happened in my life—besides my Mom. Honest. So many special things have come from the voice that guides me that I wouldn’t sell or trade it for anything, ever.

I would love to chat with others who are going through what I did. Hopefully I can help save them some grief, or just offer moral support. Back when I was bald, there was no Michael Jordan making a shaved head look popular.

I do have some unusual symptoms: My hair has fallen out several times since I was young, but not as bad at all. My hair actually hurts at the hair line sometimes, and I’ve come to know that this means it is going to fall out. At this writing, I have a small spot on the top of my head, and I guess it’s my age—52. I had a fairly big spot on that back of my head, and it grew in solid white. It looks like a skunk, but I continue to just be myself and not hide my hair and go about my life.

For me, alopecia areata was the beginning of a very beautiful spiritual journey—one that I will continue to pursue until it’s time to go.

Keep the faith, give the love, and share the happiness.



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