Chris Mager Wevik

If you’ve ever had nightmares about losing your hair, you’re likely to benefit greatly from hearing Chris Mager Wevik’s story.

The wife of Beresford farmer Doug Wevik, Chris knows first hand what it’s like to deal with hair loss after being diagnosed with alopecia in her 20’s.

Alopecia is a mysterious type of hair loss that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles, which is where hair growth begins. Doctors believe alopecia is an autoimmune disease, which means the body mistakenly fights off hair as if it were an allergy or some kind of threat to the body. Alopecia isn’t contagious and/or hereditary. Hair follicles aren’t damaged by alopecia so there’s potential for hair to grow back. There’s currently no known cure for alopecia.

Over the past 30 years, Wevik learned so much about alopecia and coping with hair loss she wrote a humorous self-help book on the topic, “It’s Only Hair.” And while she recognizes the trauma severe hair loss causes for both women and men, she has learned that her hair is just one small facet of herself.

“When I first started working on my book about 30 years ago, at the suggestion of my therapist, my attitude was much angrier,” Wevik says. “Through the course of this disorder, I’ve learned that no one can make you feel inferior without your permission. Eleanor Roosevelt said that and it’s so true. I’ve also learned that humor and a bit tougher skin can get us through a lot.”

Throughout her childhood, Wevik kept the long hair she “loved” and took good care of what she and others considered an attractive asset throughout high school. When Wevik started losing some hair at age 21, it wasn’t a large concern. Busy with her marriage and life in general, she didn’t pay much attention to the changes that were just beginning.

“It was two years before my first daughter was born,” Wevik says. “I started noticing dime sized spots on the back of my head that were just smooth skin. I couldn’t figure out what would have caused it but it didn’t bother me at the time. No one else could see it because it was hidden under my long hair and I thought maybe it was just a fluke.”

As time went on and Wevik began finding more bald spots on her head, she decided to visit the doctor. That’s when she first learned about alopecia, “That first visit to the doctor, they told me that this sometimes happens but my hair would probably grow back and I would probably never have problems again,” Wevik says.

When her hair did grow back, Wevik gave little thought to the entire incident and went about her life. But a couple years later, her bald spots returned. This time they were larger and her hair, overall, was thinner. The cycle of bald spots and thinning hair seemed to return about every two years.

She had no idea what triggered the baldness and even physicians disagree about what triggers alopecia. The disorder is somewhat like herpes, an autoimmune condition where the body just erupts after exposure to a trigger.

“After hearing about alopecia, I had learned that things like crash diets, severe illness or other types of trauma could trigger hair loss,” Wevik says. “I know of a woman who lost a family member and then lost her hair. Another had a difficult childbirth and then lost her hair. So there can be any number of things that can trigger this autoimmune disorder.”

When Wevik was pregnant, she seemed to grow hair really well, but the cycle of bald spots and overall thinning continued.

“Each time the bald spots appeared, hair grew back on the spots but they didn’t fill in all the way,” she says. “And even though I seemed to have hair while I was pregnant, I didn’t want to keep having kids just so I could have hair.”

Eventually, Wevik had no hair on her arms or legs. After her last child was born, postpartum blues exacerbated the depression she had battled for many years, reaching the point where she needed intense medical attention.

“I ended up in the hospital to be treated for the depression and while I was in the hospital all my hair fell out and it never grew back again,” she says. “There were patches of fuzz that grew after that, but nothing that was ever more than an inch long. Even that didn’t last long before it fell out. I started looking like a newly hatched bird.”

What followed for Wevik were a number of years when bits of hair returned, only to fall out over time. In her struggle to deal with her loss, her emotions ran the gamut of fear, anger, frustration and despair.

“I remember telling my husband that, as hard as it was to be bald, I didn’t want to get my hair back if it’s just going to fall out again,” Wevik says. “He said maybe you’re looking at this in the wrong way. Maybe you should consider any amount of time with hair as a gift. If it falls out again you know you’ll handle it because you’re handling it right now. Think of it as a time you don’t have to wear a wig or a hat and rejoice in it.”

Wevik took her husband’s words to heart, recognizing that she shouldn’t be ungrateful because she had hair.

“I used to have dreams about my hair growing back and in my dream I’d think, wait a minute, I didn’t have hair yesterday, I bet this is a dream,” she says. “Then I’d wake up and I used to be sad when I woke up. Then I thought, I have dreams about my mother, since she passed away. They’re always pleasant. I know I can choose to be sad that I had the dream or wake up and be glad that I got to be with my mom. I look at my dreams about hair the same way. It was a time I had hair and I was happy and when I wake up I don’t have hair, but that’s okay.”

Wevik’s book discusses causes of hair loss, living with the condition, alopecia facts, real and imagined treatments and cures for hair loss, her own experiences, options for “hair-challenged” individuals and more. Over time, Wevik has learned how to openly talk about her disorder, which is therapeutic for her and others who suffer hair loss.

“Many people encouraged me and believed I could develop this book about what I experienced,” Wevik says. “Though I’ve sometimes been somewhat of a reluctant student, alopecia has forced me to learn new things and realize I have the capacity to learn new things. It’s also brought me opportunities to write and speak and trust in myself, invest in myself by continuing to learn and grow.”

You will find Wevik’s book at, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. She can be reached through her Facebook page.