Link Roundup: August 31st, 2018

Hi all! It’s Jay. I do a link roundup every Friday and this is the sixth one. If you encounter a link you think I might want to share, please tweet it at me or Chronically Lit.

Chronically Lits link roundup
Image text: Chronically Lit’s Link Roundup: the best illness writing online

The day my nephew arrived, my family and I circled around in hushed excitement to take turns holding our brand-new family member. He’d arrived a little earlier than expected, but once he rejoined his parents on the maternity ward after a few hours in the NICU, we couldn’t wait to hold him. All except my mother, who hesitated to reach for her first grandchild, and looked at me instead of at him: “It’s because of you that I am so nervous to hold him.” The rest of my family, in wide-eyed adoration of the swaddled bundle, remained oblivious.

In bitch, Sandy Ho writes about being disabled and Asian-American.

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Painkillers don’t put a dent in fear, confusion, anger, or exhaustion. For these, even clinicians recognize the inherent power in the one of the oldest forms of healing—storytelling.

As you might have guessed solely from knowing that I founded Chronically Lit, I am a big believer in the healing power of writing and storytelling (though I want to emphasize the healing does not equal curing).  In JSTOR Daily‘s “How Storytelling Heals,” Farah Mohammed writes about folklore scholar SunWolf’s book focused on storytelling and, as you guessed, it’s power to heal.

Also, side note: I just heard of JSTOR Daily recently, but this is a type of site I’ve been saying should exist for ten years now. Their tagline is “where news meets its scholarly match.” Awesome!

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Scroll through my Instagram feed today, and you’d be forgiven for mistaking me as able-bodied. My well-framed selfie is consolation for the fact I spent hours on my makeup, and then bailed on going out due to a flare-up of my symptoms. A snap of my new shoes makes up for the fact I can’t walk in them for more than 15 minutes due to joint pain, and my Throwback Thursday hides the fact that I’ve been in bed for a week, unable to move because of chronic fatigue.

In Broadly, Ione Gamble discusses the discrepancies between her real-life and online personas while dealing with Crohn’s as a late teen and early twenty-something. Initially, she posted openly about Crohn’s online, but now her Instagram account gives the impression she is free of chronic illness.

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When I was 27 years old, I weighed 105 pounds and was extremely sick. Over a span of 15 years, I’d been extensively treated twice for Lyme disease, with waves of debilitating illness interrupting periods of restricted but relative health. This go around, I wasn’t sure if it was Lyme again. I only knew my body was breaking…

And yet, when a girlfriend saw me stepping into the pool at my parents’ home, shivering in the hot August sun, with opioid patches on my chest and braces on my wrists, she looked at my bikini-clad body and said, “Oh my God, I am so jealous of how skinny you are.”

This Bust article by Jacqueline Raposo is a good reminder not to automatically compliment people for weight loss. It’s also a reminder that our society’s beauty standards are awfully messed up.

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Clearly, fame offers no protection from suicidal urges. And in many ways, it makes things worse. If you kill yourself, everyone will want to know why. Fans who love you will feel betrayed. Your suicide could traumatize them, in all kinds of ways.

But it can work both ways. Mr. Styron discovered that he could use his fame and storytelling genius to bring people back from the brink of death. And he could give family members the language they needed to forgive, love and empathize.

In the New York Times, Pagan Kennedy writes about author William Styron, and how he wrote about his depression openly long before that was common or socially acceptable. She discusses the effects his book had on depressed readers, then delves into suicide in today’s cultural landscape.

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The story of being on benzos and then trying to not be on them is long, but the executive summary goes by quickly. Although much is known to many about the dangers of long-term use, quitting benzos is still not a popular form of quitting. There are robust communities for those who want to be rid of alcohol or heroin or cocaine. Strangers will high-five you if they see a black plastic “Keep Coming Back” keychain fob or if they hear you saying “I’ve got a year.” Benzos, though, are a liminal influence, neither aspirin nor heroin, not afforded the room to acquire their own dramatic characteristics. They are popular enough that there is still not a consensus view of the downside.

In Popula, Sasha Frere-Jones writes about the affects of addiction to benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, Klonopin), and how the dependency is often ignored because it doesn’t usually lead to death.

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Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that across the country from 2010 to 2014, Black women died from pregnancy-related causes at a rate of 40 deaths per 100,000 live births versus 12 deaths per 100,000 live births among white women and nearly 18 deaths per 100,000 live births for women of other races. 

This isn’t chronic illness-related per se, and it’s more reporting than the writing we usually feature, but still worthy of mention: Senator Kamala Harris is spearheading a bill aimed at doing away with the disparities in childbirth deaths by race.

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According to researchers, the incidents [of police brutality] may contribute to 1.7 additional poor mental health days per person every year, or 55 million more poor mental health days every year among Black Americans across the United States.

yes! magazine recently did a series of articles on mental health.  The above quote is from an article by Tasha Williams, about research suggesting Black Americans suffer trauma due to police brutality. Another interesting article in the series focuses on how microbes encountered while gardening can improve one’s depression and anxiety, written by Daphne Miller.


Jay Vera Summer is the Editor in Chief of Chronically Lit.