I have a debilitating physical issue that is starting to take a mental toll on me. It has been a problem for my entire life, though it started becoming more noticeable around the age of 16. Unfortunately, there's no treatment for this affliction. I just have to live with it and I will for the rest of my life. What makes the mental toll so great is that the issue is totally unpredictable. I can be coasting along, having a great day, having a great week, when the affliction will pop up out of nowhere and just change everything. This is my cross to bear.
People call me ma'am on the phone.
Listen, I can't lie to you. My voice is not bass heavy. But it's not like a dog whistle. However, there are times when I order food, or when I need to call about a bill, when people call me ma'am. The most recent outbreak was this past Friday.
"Hi, I'd like to place an order for delivery."
"Okay, ma'am, what would you like?"
The worst part is, strangers who think I'm a woman have to be thinking I'm an ugly, heavy woman with a terrible voice. I'm just caught in this lost, gray area. Usually, when it happens, I immediately try to drop my voice a bit, but it can only go so low. I never, ever correct the person in this situation because it's embarrassing enough as it is. But sometimes, we get caught up in a spiral.
"Hi, I'm just calling to close out my account."
"Okay, ma'am, that's no problem. What's your name?"
There are no fundraisers for my affliction. There are no treatments. There is a stigma. And I will live with it until the day I die. Although they say adversity makes one stronger, this adversity is definitely making me much weaker.