Link Roundup: December 21st, 2018

Hi all! It’s Jay. I do a link roundup (almost) every Friday. 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

In June, he told The New York Times that he was “learning how to not be on meds” and that he’d taken medication only once in the previous week. In an October meeting with Donald Trump, [Kanye] West told the president that his bipolar disorder had been a misdiagnosis. Now, in apparently quitting his psychiatric medication for the sake of his creativity, West is promoting one of mental health’s most persistent and dangerous myths: that suffering is necessary for great art.

Amanda Mull writes about the myth that mental suffering is necessary to create art for The Atlantic.

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[RX: A Graphic Memoir by Rachel Lindsay] is also part of an emerging publishing trend: “graphic medicine,” or illustrated memoirs grappling with life, death, health, and the medical industry. While cartoons and chronic illness might seem like an odd combination, readers have been finding that comics can provide an antidote, or at least a balm, to the isolating world of pain, illness, and health care.

Some recent graphic medicine titles include Peter Dunlap-Shohl’s My Degeneration: A Journey Through Parkinson’s, Dana Walrath’s Aliceheimer’s: Alzheimer’s Through the Looking Glass, and Jennifer Hayden’s The Story of My Tits, a memoir about breast cancer.

Edith Zimmerman writes about graphic medical memoirs for The Cut.

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After Jillian Bauer-Reese created an online collection of opioid recovery stories, she began to get calls for help from reporters. But she was dismayed by the narrowness of the requests, which sought only one type of interviewee.

“They were looking for people who had started on a prescription from a doctor or a dentist,” says Bauer-Reese, an assistant professor of journalism at Temple University in Philadelphia. “They had essentially identified a story that they wanted to tell and were looking for a character who could tell that story.”

Maia Szalavitz writes about inaccurate media portrayal of the opioid crisis, which affects many with chronic pain because it can lead to restrictions on prescriptions. The article is in the Columbia Journalism Review.

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Giving birth in the United State can pose a fatal risk. This stark reality became evident to me immediately after I was discharged from a seven-week stay at a public hospital in Ohio, 34 weeks into my pregnancy. There, a team of doctors had monitored my fetus with an uncertain prognosis, constantly warning me of the potential for my daughter to be stillborn and the risk of my own death. Weeks earlier, I had been labeled by doctors as being a “high-risk” mother: a 30-something African-American with fibroids.

Omotayo Banjo writes about the increased mortality rates Black women face during pregnancy, and explores whether machine learning will help or hurt the situation in Motherboard.

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Roughly 20 percent of college students meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports. And the number using illicit drugs has risen from 34 percent in 2006 to 43 percent in 2016, the highest it has been in three decades.

Jen Soong writes about the increase in substance abuse in college students, and how universities are dealing with it for Yes! Magazine.

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For my whole life I have lived in a family where transparency about my mother and her illness was elusive to us all. We’ve all managed to say so much about so little over the years–my mother has struggled with mental health issues her whole life, but we don’t discuss it. Instead, we all try to ignore the great well of longing that she’s submerged in, that she’s pushed us into, too. This is our reality; I cannot comprehend a life better, or different, a life that wasn’t teeming with imminent emotional warfare. Living with my mother has always been tantamount to living in constant fear. Most days, we (my father, sister, and I) didn’t know what would trigger her. She wasn’t cunning or evil–she was disarming in her innocence. So tender, and yet fraught with tension, like a rubber band around a razor. For this reason alone, I have, and always, always, always will be at the behest of my mother.

Fariha Roisin writes about growing up with a mentally ill mother in a personal essay for Broadly.

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Even meetings that aren’t particularly contentious can leave you feeling drained or walking around in what I now call the “IEP haze.” I left that first meeting, having cried in front of a group of strangers who said we were asking for “too much” (and that Charlottesville City Schools had provided too much for our son) and feeling completely unheard. …

Around that time, I developed the mental hashtag #NotMyBlackBoy. It’s something I would repeat in my head as I prepared to engage educators who would try to convince me time and time again that, in Tophs’s case, the bare bones would do. But as Tophs’s mother, I’m never just advocating for an undiagnosed child whom several teachers have found puzzling and whose challenges don’t follow any script; I’m also a black mother advocating for my black son in a room full of people who don’t look like us. With an education gap between races that lingers at the threshold of almost every school building you step foot into, I have to hold both these truths close.

In Catapult, Taylor Harris writes about fighting for the education plan her developmentally delayed son needs.

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I was finally referred to a paediatrician who diagnosed me with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and a month later I saw a physiotherapist who called an ambulance she was so shocked at the sight of me. I’d had virus upon virus, including a throat infection that had killed my appetite so I was malnourished.

I went to hospital, and little did I know I’d be there for the next four years. My body just went, ‘I can’t do this any more’. I stopped being able to speak, move, eat, or talk. It was a state of semi coma, existing but not really alive. The endless days passed by with me lying there in a broken body, not thinking or listening, my brain gone. It carried on that way for two years.

In The Mirror, Lara Kilner writes the story of Jessica Taylor Berman, a woman who developed CFS/ME at 14 and had to be hospitalized for four years. She since been married and written a book about her experiences. She works to raise awareness of CFS/ME.


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