Thursday, 8 March 2012

Beautiful bald girls.

There's a trend at the moment on facebook of posting and sharing pictures of beautiful, smiling, young people, with no hair, accompanied with a message about how cancer needs to be beaten. It's nice, and I quite like it. I mean, it doesn't do anything to stop cancer, but if even one person who is suffering from cancer sees it and knows that there is a whole world of people out there rooting for them... I think it means something. I do. Especially when you're young and the rest of facebook seems to be out having the time of their lives; these kind of circumstances are probably one of the only times I think a facebook thing like this might make a difference. You are NOT alone. It's not like the utter stupidity of 'change your facebook picture to a cartoon cancer, to help abused children'- DO NOT EVEN GET ME STARTED on that badboy, I'm still to find a person who can show me a child helped by that one.

No, the cancer thing is different. It's an acknowledgement of suffering and a message of the beauty of the fight, and the person at the centre. A reminder that the disease isn't all; there's light and a life that's so very valuable, an absolute strength and fire. But it makes me sad, because Lord knows that's not the only type of suffering. I can appreciate how a message like that might mean a little when you're suffering because I'm a little sad there wasn't, and won't be, anything like that for us. If you posted a picture of a young person with swollen eyes so bloodshot, skin a pale yellow, rotten teeth, neck and chin glands swollen like eggs, all from vomiting? An emaciated person? Scars? You'd immediately be inundated with messages of disgust. And I can get that, the disease isn't beautiful and when the symptoms can be classed as self-inflicted, a phrase I hate, by the way- there's so little genuine self involved in inflicting such damage- people recoil somewhat, because they can't imagine a decline of self in that way. They only see the ugly, the tumour, but not the fight and the light and life and strength and fire that they see when they see somebody battling the cancer. They don't understand that cancer is as ugly as mental illness, they can't separate the mentally ill person from the ugliness of the disease in the same way they can separate the person fighting cancer, from their cancerous growths.

In a way, maybe that's alright. We don't want our children seeing the beauty of the manifestations of mental illness, right? Maybe then they'll develop their own mental illness? No. NO. Be as worried about your children seeing the beauty of cancer and so smoking 60 a day. You don't get a mental illness because you want to be pretty, or even because you just WANT one full stop. I don't believe in glorifying emaciation or self-harm, but I believe utterly in glorifying people. We are not the disease, we are the fight. And that is, we are, as beautiful as the beautiful bald girls.

I wish being mentally ill wasn't almost criminal.