Link Roundup: October 21st, 2018

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

I have #multiplesclerosis . I am in an exacerbation. By the grace of the lord, and will power and the understanding producers at Netflix , I have a job. A wonderful job. I am disabled. I fall sometimes. I drop things. My memory is foggy. And my left side is asking for directions from a broken gps. But we are doing it . And I laugh and I don’t know exactly what I will do precisely but I will do my best. 

Selma Blair announced she has Multiple Sclerosis via Instagram. While I of course feel bad that she has it, I’m so grateful for her openness about not only the diagnosis, but the many years it took her to receive it because her symptoms weren’t taken seriously by doctors. Her speaking out will hopefully bring needed attention to the issues of doctor dismissiveness and diagnosis lag time.

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When you tell your therapist about your anxiety attacks and visits to the doctor, he suggests that you are a somatizer. You remind him that that’s what they said about Kafka, and then his throat closed up. You wonder out loud if you should be on medication, but you are frightened of exacerbating a chemical imbalance. There is schizophrenia in your family. You have heard numerous stories of people committing suicide while on antidepressants. You once dated a woman who liked to cook while on Ambien. You had to put out two kitchen fires; she forgot she was cooking and walked away from the stove. If you take antidepressants or anxiety medication, will you remember that you are living?

Moshe Schulman writes about health anxiety, obsessive thoughts, and disordered eating for The Rumpus in “How to Keep Calm and Carry On.” The voice and pacing is wonderful in this one.

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Ottey, meanwhile, believes women’s increasing candor about their health- and health care-related frustrations can be traced back to the advent of social media. Ottey describes her own struggle to finally get a diagnosis and a treatment plan for PCOS in 2008 as one that made her feel “absolutely alone,” but in the years since, she says, she’s seen women with similar conditions and complaints find and support each other on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. “Women see other women, and other girls, speaking up,” she says.

In The Atlantic, Ashley Fetters writes about the increase of media attention on women dealing with chronic illness. Aptly titled, “The Doctor Doesn’t Listen to Her. But the Media is Starting To.” this article acts as its own link roundup of sorts. I chose to pull out a quote about women talking about their illnesses online because–hey!–that’s what we’re here for.

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What percentage of higher-education faculty members are disabled? How are their requests for reasonable accommodation managed by colleges? How do disability and accommodation figure into tenure and promotion reviews? There’s surprisingly little published on this subject.

In “The Neglected Demographic: Faculty Members With Disabilities” (The Chronicle of Higher Education), Joseph Grigely argues that while disability accommodations and services for students have greatly improved, the same likely isn’t true for disabled faculty.

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Shortly after the second infusion of drugs, a profound change overtook her brain, affecting her behavior. It would last about two months; even after the period was over, she didn’t know the full extent of what she had done until her family began to reveal it to her in bits and pieces, leaving her horrified.

Did she really accuse the exterminator of trying to poison her? Did she get lost while out walking a mile from her home in Annandale, Va., and decide she didn’t care if neighbors saw her pee herself as she tried to find her way home? Did she walk past a car that had been hit by a tree, and then circle back and point out the felled car again, because she’d forgotten seeing it half an hour before? 

Libby Copeland writes about neuroscientist Barbara Lipska’s experiences with her own brain tumors and experimental treatment in The Washington Post. Barbara Lipska wrote a book about her experiences–we’d love to read a review of it. (Hint, hint.)

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Being seriously ill, especially as a child, is terribly isolating. Everything is a reminder that you’re different, that you’re “abnormal.” Television commercials were mostly about food I couldn’t eat. Visits from school friends highlighted what I was missing; reminders of a life I used to live, and love. Kids relate to one another through shared interests and experiences. How do you explain your pain to someone who hasn’t felt it? The experiences and medical language that accompany chronic illness can feel like a language barrier. When Starbright World entered my life, I suddenly had access to an entire community of kids who got it. It was a virtual speakeasy for kids who all knew the passcode.

In “Life Inside a Digital World for Chronically Ill Teens” (Narratively), Lauren Henderson Starkweather reflects on spending years in the hospital as a teen, and the escape found in a pre-contemporary internet virtual world that allowed her to escape the reality of her illness while connecting with similar youth.

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To be sure, the revelations Plath made to Barnhouse were unsettling: Hughes beat her two days before she suffered a miscarriage in 1961; Hughes would have nothing to do with their second child, Nicholas, because he was a boy, “an usurper” to Hughes’s male dominance; Hughes taunted Plath, after their separation, to kill herself.

In Lit Hub, Paul Alexander writes about letters Sylvia Path wrote to her psychiatrist, which have recently resurfaced.

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It has been known for a long time that suicide rates spike during heat waves. Hotter weather has been linked with higher rates of hospital admissions for self-harm, suicide and violent suicides, as well as increases in population-level psychological distress, particularly in combination with high humidity.

I often think about how weather affects my symptoms, and wonder what part of the country would be the best for me to live in. Sometimes I forget that weather affects the health of many people beyond those who have pain disorders. This article in The Conversation focuses on recent research suggesting climate change will lead to more suicides.