I first began thinking of the body as unruly after reading Hanne Blank’s collection Unruly Appetites. It was such a provocative, honest phrasing, this acknowledgment that the things we most want and crave are rarely easily ruled or disciplined. The bodies harboring our unruly appetites are unruly in and of themselves — they are as weak and fallible as they are strong. In many ways, our bodies are completely unknowable, but oh, how we try to master our unruly bodies, nonetheless.
Roxane Gay‘s pop-up Medium magazine, Unruly Bodies, is another inspiration for Chronically Lit. While the anthology’s focus is bodies in general, many of the included essays involve health issues. In one essay, Matthew Salesses writes about his wife’s pregnancy complications that lead to a cancer diagnosis, and the history of Asian-American immigration as it relates to illness. In “Distress Tolerance,” Kaveh Akbar writes about his experiences with alcoholism, describing a car-bike crash he was in while drunk, and its aftermath.
In between posting herbal tea and tincture recipes, Musa uses her platform to call out popular herbalism texts for subtle and overt racism. She talks about how Black healing traditions are not just the foundation of White herbalism, but White Western medicine. She helps students reclaim herbs like turmeric and ashwagandha, which are typically attributed to Ayurvedic medicine but have been used by indigenous Africans for just as long and in similar ways.
I enjoyed this profile of Sade Musa and the healing project Roots of Resistance, in the Yes! Magazine article by Danielle Dorsey. I’m interesting in learning more about herbalism, and would like to do so in the least colonized way possible.
Also, this is not an ad: I subscribed to the print edition of Yes! last week, and you should too! Their articles are from an intersectional perspective, and they’re one of the few magazines that’s entirely ad-free.
Labeled “slacktivism” or “armchair activism,” online activism sometimes carries the stigma of being insincere, lazy, and a fad.
In 2017, that sentiment was mistakenly reaffirmed. Led by actress and social activist America Ferrera, a panel entitled “#ActivismIRL” — or activism in real life — had the intention of helping social movement participants move away from the internet and do good in the real world. Though it wasn’t purposeful, the panel’s language was considered ableist by people in the disabled community. It insinuated that there was a clear line between online activism and “real activism.” As if our disabled lives, with their unique sets of struggles and experiences, are less real than abled ones.
In Hello Giggles, Samantha Chavarria describes the ways disabled people perform activism via the internet and pushes back against the idea that online activism is lazy or not true activism.
I used to date men and now I don’t. Their voices are too low for me to hear. I struggle mightily to understand them, even in nonromantic contexts. Eventually I stopped trying. Was it a lack of desire or was it me? I don’t know. My hearing loss has changed my identity, my sense of self. I am not who I might have become. But isn’t that true of everyone?
In Buzzfeed News, Anna Pulley writes about navigating sex and consent as someone who is hard of hearing. Although I haven’t experienced hearing loss, I did relate to being unable to distinguish what is a personal preference and what is a by-product of health issues. While reading this article, I recalled a moment I hadn’t thought of in years. Back when I first learned about fibromyalgia, I read the symptoms off to my then-boyfriend, and he said something along the lines of, “Wow, I thought all of that was just your personality.” That was when I first began to realize that I and my illness are too tightly intertwined to be pulled apart.
Think of us as your friend who also happens to be a therapist or a psychology professor. Whether you are looking for ways to better manage stress, understand a condition like ADHD, or learn more about why we dream, get the guidance you need to be healthy and happy.
I have to give a shoutout to verywell. When I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia ten years ago, there was almost nothing credible about it online. The Mayo Clinic outlined symptoms, diagnostic criteria, and treatment options for most illnesses, and I’d use their pages to help explain my illness to others. Still, the info was sparse.
Months ago, I stumbled across verywell Health and signed up for their email updates on fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Their overview of fibromyalgia is more detailed than Mayo Clinic’s, and they offer a variety of articles on topics I don’t often see covered elsewhere: what leads to remission, the connection between fibro and headaches, foods to eat or avoid with fibro, comorbid conditions, when driving becomes unsafe with fibro or CFS. When I signed up for their email newsletter, I didn’t expect to learn anything I didn’t already know, but I have. Their articles are either written or reviewed by doctors, and I consider them to be one of the best sources I’ve seen for illness information written for a lay audience. They also publish so many specific, concise articles that are easy to share to help others better understand what I’m dealing with. verywell Health publishes articles on most illnesses, take a look.
But anorexic memories are shade on every sunny day. Instead of remembering Anne, I found myself wondering if the leather sectional in her den would still feel like quicksand that fanned your thigh fat out on July afternoons spent in shorts. If we sat together, could I keep my hands on the table and not use them to protect my stomach?
In “You May Have Never Heard Of Anorexia Nostalgia, But It’s A Real Thing, And I Have It,” Lisa Fogarty writes about the memories that resurface as she makes plans to visit an old friend.
As a young woman with multiple chronic illnesses, I get you—I know what it’s like to feel limited and to want more out of life. That’s why I created ChronicBabe: To help you have an amazing life in spite of illness.
ChronicBabe by Jenni Grover is a cool community for women grappling with chronic illness. There are blog posts, a forum, videos, and more, all dedicated to providing support and information related to chronic illness. Grove also published a book, which we would love to publish a review of (hint, hint).