A couple of years ago, my hair stopped growing. Next it got thinner and thinner before falling out in patches, which became so bad I was left with no choice but to shave what little was left. Now, to open the front door, or leave the house I put on a clever little piece of material called a cancer cap and/or a hat. I do this because I feel ugly, and ashamed – I had my ears pinned as a child and have hated the abnormal shape of them ever since, so I don’t make a ‘beautiful baldie’ and I sure as hell don’t feel like one. I won’t even look at myself in a mirror because I can’t bear the distress it causes me. I can’t bear to see what I am – a freak. Every day is an exercise in humiliation, every time I have to leave the house, or answer the door. The worst thing, is the deliberate invisibility. The people who stare but won’t make eye contact. The people who move away from me in the queue at the supermarket. The people who pretend not to see me as they turn away. The people who will never even acknowledge that they see a problem, much less ask why, and I don’t just mean strangers – I mean everybody. To this day, ONE person has spoken to me about it, a cousin, once. No person has asked why it has happened. No person has asked how I feel about it, or how it affects my emotional health. No family member, other than two of my children, says, or has said a word about it. If I say something about it, my words are skipped over, subject over, unacknowledged and undiscussed. My heart breaks, over and over as I remain silent, trapped in a very public private hell because nobody wants to listen or even acknowledge my obvious pain – it is hardly a hidden condition. Nobody wants to talk, because nobody wants to look at the freak show in front of them. You think you feel uncomfortable? Stand in my shoes.
If I had cancer (I don’t) or Parkinsons, or some other fashionable disease, I would hear how ‘brave’ I am, told to ‘fight’, and ‘be strong’. You wanna know what I think to that? I think you’re a bunch of fucking hypocrites. Every last one. Because I don’t have a terminal illness, there IS no physical cause, and this may or may not be permanent, who knows? It is too late for any bullshit sympathy, too late for platitudes, too late for you to pretend you cared, too late to pretend that there is anything resembling kindness or compassion left in anybody. It may not be the worst thing in the world, indeed there are many far worse off than me, traumatised, agonised people screaming out to be heard. You may refuse to see what cannot be hidden but with your silence you perpetuate that which causes it. If my experience is any measure, then may God have mercy. Covid didn’t kill humanity – it’s already dead.