Image text: Chronically Lit’s Link Roundup: the best illness writing online
Academics, specifically early-career academics, worry about the consequences of being identified as someone dealing with health issues and conditions. In an environment where temporary, as-and-when contracts are more prevalent than permanent, tenured positions, employees are concerned about job insecurity. Individuals fear that by admitting to health conditions or disabilities they may be worsening their chances for employment.
…Academics with health conditions are concerned that they are not taken seriously or seen as academics in their own right, and that their achievements and publications are considered through the lens of their disability status. Although this can in turn lead to successful careers within critical disability studies, this may not be their disciplinary passion or desired career focus.
As an instructor in a visiting position, “Ableism in academia: where are the disabled and ill academics?” by Nicole Brown and Jennifer Leigh in Disability & Society really resonated.
Farida Bedwei grew up loving superheroes but noticed there were never any with her condition, cerebral palsy. So she decided to create one herself.
There’s a one-minute video with the superhero creator on BBC.
Just last week, I went to a new physician looking for new answers who, before running tests, told me that they saw no reason why I would be experiencing the daily pain that I am and asked if I’ve ever tried psych meds. This form of gaslighting is affecting the majority of women facing chronic illness.
“How The Medical System Is Failing Women With Chronic Illness” by Zoe Naseef in Bust acts as a link roundup, of sorts, summarizing recent articles and essays about issues women with chronic illness have with diagnosis and treatment.
There is no express contraindication to attending a sea shanty festival two days after quitting heavy mood stabilizers. But medical science notwithstanding, it’s still a questionable choice, even if the biggest question is who actually goes to sea shanty festivals? Well, me: a landlubbing millennial woman who does not know how to sail and hates the taste of fish. The tickets had been in hand for months, but my abrupt discontinuation of Seroquel hadn’t been planned. After a blood test revealed my blood sugar had finally crept to pre-diabetic levels, my doctor advised me to taper off my nightly dose, splitting the peach-colored pills into halves and quarters until I was free and clear. I figured I’d make it—really, I barely thought about it.
Isn’t Catapult great? Above is the first paragraph of “How Shanties and Songs of the Sea Helped Me Weather the Storm of Depression” by Blair Thornburgh.
Since I am bedridden, the only way we can be together is for her to travel across the continent to see me. But even with her willingness to jeopardize her health by traveling so far, we are often away from each other for months at a time.
When we are together, we spend weeks in bed, mostly holding each other, our bodies aligned like two pieces of a broken plate glued back together. Because I can’t speak, we often resort to communicating by text messages while cuddling in bed.
“Love Means Never Having to Say … Anything” is a NY Times Modern Love column by Jamison Hill.
Last year, when I mentioned I wrote about mental health in polite conversation with a Lyft Line passenger, he explained to me at length that chemicals in tap water are responsible for the rise in depression diagnoses and that essential oils might help combat the toxins in my bloodstream. And when a former boss found out I was on Prozac and Wellbutrin a few years ago, she warned me to be careful — she’d seen too many of her creative friends go on anti-depressants and “become numb.” When my ADHD comes up in conversation, everyone suddenly becomes a sociology professor: ADHD is a pseudo-medical phenomenon rooted in smartphone culture, they inform me, which means everybody has it, which means no one has it, which means Adderall is poison! (That is, unless they are inspired to tell a boring story about all the Adderall they took in college during exams, or that one night in South Beach.)
More recently, I posted a tweet applauding Mariah Carey for revealing her Bipolar II diagnoses in a recent People magazine cover story, remarking that people with mental illnesses are often doubly stigmatized for taking medication. Within hours, someone responded to me by posting three pages of a study on psychiatrists’ roles in Nazi atrocities.
Striking quotes from “I Need Medication to Treat My Mental Illness. Why Can’t People Accept That?” by Maria Yagoda in Broadly.
My only clear path now is trying not to pass on the psychological trauma I’ve inherited to anyone else. A few years ago, when my father made the idiotic choice of chastising me for taking seconds of my mom’s cooking — who wouldn’t ask for more? — I dropped my fork and sulked at the table, refusing to eat any more while he and my mom argued. I was so busy trying not to cry that I barely noticed my niece, then 6 years old, watching me not eat. She put her fork down too, waiting for direction. I took more food, and she cautiously picked her fork back up.
Scaachi Koul uses preparation for her upcoming nuptials as an occasion through which to interrogate how families and culture influence disordered eating in “I Shouldn’t Have To Lose Weight For My Wedding. So Why Do I Feel Like A Failure?” in Buzzfeed News.
When I stopped drinking, I finally realized the deep sadness I’d been trying to drown with alcohol was really gender dysphoria.
In “I Didn’t Know I Was Trans Until I Got Sober” by Finlay Games in Narratively, the author delves into how alcoholism masked his true identity.
Jay Vera Summer is the Editor in Chief of Chronically Lit.
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