Storyteller: Alexander Younce
Stevie, the owner of a local tea shop and the oldest of three children, has felt a lot of the effects that the virus has had on the economy, they had to close their shop and rely on government grants to survive. However, this struggle is something they consider minimal compared to the difficulty they now have communicating.
Stevie, who uses they/them pronouns, suffers from severe hearing loss and gets through much of their life by reading people’s lips, something that is now impossible with those who follow masking guidelines. “I miss a lot of conversations and small interactions with people in public.” they said. “I didn’t realize how much I rely on lip reading until that wasn’t something that I could do anymore.”
Along with the masks and the pandemic comes a higher risk for them as a person with a compromised immune system. They can’t visit their friends or family, who are their main support system, and it took quite a toll on their mental health. They gained weight pretty rapidly and said that they generally stopped taking care of themselves for the first few months. Their support system means the world to them and they knew the importance of keeping the safe, but they also prioritized the safety of the people they care about over themselves, something that had a lasting effect on them personally. Having to climb out of the hole that they had sunken into was something they needed help with, and in times when there was less risk they had their friends and family visit them to help clean their house and just generally help them recover.