You’ve heard of Millions Missing right?
Millions Missing is exactly what it sounds like. Millions of people are missing from the world: children too young to understand, teenagers, mothers, sisters, fathers and friends – yet no one knew they were right there the entire time, hidden behind closed curtains. The campaign is a way for those who have no voice to be seen. The ones who were sentenced to a life of limitations and unreachable dreams and cannot show the world their true raw state; the state that is M.E.
Shoes are placed to represent the absent or ‘missing’ person, currently ill with M.E. The shoes are there to open the eyes of the healthy, that there is real, living people behind the diagnosis and the current state of treatment and awareness is NOT good enough. The ones who can attend, well they stand, sit, lie, shout, cry and scream, hoping to be heard – to be seen.
May of 2018 was the first time I attended Millions Missing, after being inspired from the documentary film ‘Unrest’. My parents and I attended one held in Birmingham the day before the normal date, as more people flooded past the cathedral on a Friday than a Saturday. My parents placed me in the middle of the walk way. That way they had to look at me, my wheelchair, my pale complexion and my sign painted ‘missing my teen years’. I had one sign strapped to the back and the other held by myself. With every person that walked past, they studied me up and down, left to right, reading my sign and carrying on.
It was a challenge in itself being in my wheelchair in such a popular place. Dealing with the on going stares I normally try my hardest to ignore was another thing entirely. That day I wasn’t annoyed by the stares as I tried to act like I didn’t see them. Instead I looked them straight in the eye, I looked right back. For the first time ever, I didn’t want to ‘blend in’ so I felt less awkward. Instead I made it my task to be seen: for my family, myself and for the patients who couldn’t attend.
The rest of the campaigners made conversation about the cruel greedy disease M.E is, to the walkers of the day. Others asked for petitions to be signed in order to stop GET and CBT as the only, and may I add complete shit, treatment we’re provided with. Imagine giving someone with Cancer, treatment that not only doesn’t work but also makes the patient worse. Complete and utter madness if you ask me.
Many people walked past. At first it was hard to see so many careless people ignore us without any consideration for what we were fighting for and how horrific it really is. It doesn’t take much to sign a box which could potentially help millions of sufferers in the near future. Does it?
I got three things out of that day. The first being, Uni is possible for me. At long last have I now met 2 people (on the same day) with M.E who successfully attend Uni. The second being what I originally thought, but only proven further; people don’t bother helping others or supporting others if it doesn’t personally affect their life. It’s harsh but it’s true. And thirdly, I know every single person that walked past and ignored the cause, saw me. That my fellow blog lovers is the best bit yet. Whether they helped or not, smiled or not, signed or not – they saw me and they saw the way I was because of ME. Every person that stared me down took home with them more knowledge and awareness than they came with. That is enough of a reason for me, to campaign and fundraise till my legs drop off and maybe even more. For the ones that walked past with no second thought, you’re even more of a reason to shout from the roof tops.
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis is cruel, life changing and disabling in every way imaginable. If you can attend or show your support for the disease and the ongoing campaign, please do so. 30 years on and we’re still fighting for decent medical attention. Help us win the fight and join in wherever you can! If you’re a fellow M.E fighter and can attend the next campaign, show your face to the world. You might be the face that changes it all.