*This post includes discussion of various prejudices/oppressions, rape, and rape culture.*
Today I'd like to share a roundup of some of my favorite social justice-themed posts from Tumblr, Twitter, and more. The majority of what I know about social justice I learned from others on the Internet--and oftentimes, they put it a lot better than I ever could! So check out these posts that discuss feminism, disabled rights, and more. Learn from them, my padawans, and I'll be back again next week. (For more like this, check out my Social Justice board on Pinterest or my social justice tag on Tumblr--or my Twitter in general!)
*This post includes discussion of various prejudices/oppressions, rape, and rape culture.*
As you know from previous On This Day in My History posts, I keep a diary. But to just say that I keep a diary is a bit of an understatement. I've been writing diaries since kindergarten, in fact, although it didn't become a regular habit until fifth or sixth grade. As of today, I've been through over 75 notebooks, and my transcribed journals (up to about halfway through 2013), are approximately 5,000 Times New Roman 1.5 spaced pages in total. 5,000 pages! And that's after spending October and November reformatting in order to cut down on length.
We're still waiting on the cover for my next "Waiting On" Wednesday, so today, I'm updating you on what's been going on with my health since I went to Mayo Clinic, back in late July/early August.
When I got back from Mayo Clinic, I was already noticing some improvement. I'd realized, during their fibromyalgia seminar, that I had been exercising too much for my body to handle in its current condition. While at Mayo Clinic, I didn't exercise at all, and by the time I got home, my tremors and loss of balance had pretty much vanished. This was, of course, a big relief, and it made walking a lot easier. Evidently, my body's response to the overexertion was to respond with those neurological symptoms.
Hey, friends! It's time for a life update as told through a series of "-ing" verbs. Enjoy!
Eating: baked potatoes and penne, basically every day
Wearing: a navy and white striped dress and white, knee-length compression socks
Smelling: that my room is a bit cleaner now
Reading: The Mirror King by Jodi Meadows
Writing: nothing other than the usual
Editing: THE PROPHECY KEEPER
Making: fun of my younger self
Listening: to awesome new songs like "Young and Menace" by Fall Out Boy
Watching: nothing ATM, but I'm super looking forward to the next season of Stranger Things!
Pampering yourself and looking good are two great mood-lifters. However, when you have chronic pain, even basic hygiene can become painful and difficult. As my conditions have worsened, I've found myself more and more limited in my options of what I can wear. But I do want to look good and to own my own style! So I've come up with some tips on how to make the most of the options I have.
Beauty & Hygiene
Tuesday two weeks ago, me, my mom, and my brother all set off for Rochester, Minnesota, where the main Mayo Clinic campus is. This involved two airplane rides and almost two hours in a car, so it was fun times. Additionally, the airline left our luggage behind, so we had to make do with our carry-ons the first day.
Today, I think it's time for another Taking Stock of My Life post, in which I share the current state of my existence through a series of -ing verbs. Check it out!
Eating: plain cheese quesadillas on organic tortillas
Drinking: water, but as usual, not nearly enough of it
Wearing: A cute sundress in black with a peachy-brown flower print
Smelling: the wonderfully stale air of my room
Reading: Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
Writing: just blog posts and diary entries right now
Editing: old blog posts, mostly
Listening: to Bishop Briggs and the Piano Guys
One part of being chronically ill that can be really difficult is eating.
First off, let's be clear: one of the most common microaggressions disabled people face is other people trying to tell them what to do. Everyone has a magic cure; everyone thinks they know how to fix you. And yes, most of it's well-meaning, but often the implication is that you don't know enough about your own illness, that you don't know your own body, and that you're not trying hard enough to get better. Furthermore, being told about someone's aunt's cousin's friend who got 100% better after trying this "magic water" can be very hurtful for chronically ill people--because there is no such thing as a cure. Many chronically ill people, like myself, suffer from disorders that do not go away. Ever. All you can do is manage the symptoms the best you can with the treatments that do help. We have to deal with that fact, and having people come up to us all the time insisting that an impossible hope exists just causes us more pain. It makes it harder to accept the truth. It also makes us feel like the person suggesting a cure doesn't believe us, which is a huge problem that chronically ill people face in society.
Plus, a lot of the time, these cures are scams. Even when they're not, they likely only have a limited impact on a limited group of people, because different bodies respond differently, even to properly tested, doctor-approved medications.
Now, most people who suggest "cures" for chronic illness focus on diet. No matter how long someone has had a chronic illness, how many doctors they've seen, or how well controlled their symptoms are, people will always comment on their diet. I've had people I barely know give me advice about healthy eating upon hearing about my disability, which, again, is insulting. The two things I've heard the most are a) go gluten free and b) eat more vegetables.
But no one ever said anything about corn.
I've talked in the past about my experiences with good vs. bad teachers, but today, I want to share the worst and most ridiculous thing to happen to me at school. This is the story of Kevin and his calculator.
Once upon a time, during my first semester at BYU-Idaho, I had a religion teacher whom I did not like. I didn't hate him either; I just found him to be a little too black-and-white in his thinking and a bit self-righteous. But, as usual, I did all my schoolwork and kept under the radar and got good grades.
Every week, on our own time, we took an online, open-book quiz. As a disabled person, I had a number of accommodations granted to me through the Disability Office. One was that I used a Kindle for many of my textbooks, in order to minimize the amount of weight I had to carry. My scriptures were one of these.
Then, on the second to last week of classes, the religion teacher called me into his office.
"You've been getting better grades than anyone on the quizzes," he said, "and you finish them quickly."
I nodded, unsure where was this was going.
"Have you been cheating?" he asked.
Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, a book blog tag hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Today, I'm going to share my Top Ten More YA Novels About Mental Illness, adding on to the thirteen I recommended in this earlier post. Check them out!
1) Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman. This is a truly fantastic YA contemporary about a boy in treatment for schizophrenia, written in a riotous, confusing manner that puts you right in the head of the patient. It's a well-deserved National Book Award winner.
2) Underwater by Marisa Reichardt. This beautifully paced YA contemporary explores the situation of a girl suffering from agoraphobia after a trauma. Like Challenger Deep, it does a great job of getting you in the mindset of the mentally ill individual so that you can better understand.
3) Still Life with Tornado by A.S. King. This odd YA magical realism tells the story of a girl suffering from depression and a bad home life and how she starts seeing different versions of herself from throughout time as she tries to come to terms with her situation.
I've shared myleast favorite tropes before, but every so often, I come across a trope that I find particularly upsetting. Today, as part of my Kill the Trope series, I'm going to examine the "crazy telepathic woman" trope and explain to you how it combines misogyny and ableism so horrifically that it needs to be abandoned. *Comics spoilers ahoy*
Once upon a time, there was a woman with telepathic powers. She could read minds, control them, maybe even undo them. Despite the enormous mental and emotional pressure that having such a power would exert, she managed to eke out a life as a hero. She used her incredible gift to protect lives, and even though it was a pretty scary power that was sometimes hard on her, she became a real force for good in the world. Then, one day, something terrible happens--a death, usually, or some kind of accident that breaks her powers loose.
She goes insane. Not just your regular old "wow I have a mental illness" insane, but "I am going to literally murder everyone" insane. She loses all sense of morality, all sense of boundaries, all sense of self, and wreaks terrible havoc across the world until someone finally stops her, usually by killing her. (Because she's a superhero, she will probably come back, but even once she's her normal self again, everyone will be wary of her and will constantly bring up that one time she went crazy, if not outright reject her.)
A few months ago, I switched antidepressants. Almost immediately, my mind began to clear. It would appear that my severe brain fog was, in part, a side effect of my previous medication. So now, thankfully, I'm awake again. I can keep up with what's happening around me. I can write without feeling as though I have to swim through Jello to find each word. It's the most progress I've seen in years.
Unfortunately, the medication change has had almost no effect on my physical state. I'm still in severe pain, all over, with no relief. I suffer from muscle weakness and loss of balance, and I have truncal titubation tremors whenever I exert myself much more than I am now (and right now, I'm almost on bed rest). I need naps, like, a lot.
It's something. It means that I can finally make some progress with my writing again. But it's not the miracle I'm looking for. It's not enough for me to have a life again.
This past week, my interstitial cystitis also decided to flare up yet again, making it almost impossible for me to get the sleep I so desperately need. Not only can I not wear pants right now, I can't wear underwear either. I spend all day with my heating pad on. Even then, my bladder is like a never-ending siren shrieking inside of me. I decided to try a bladder instillation, where they put medication into your bladder while you're awake (as opposed to a hydrodistention, where they also stretch your bladder as far as they can, a process so painful it must be done under anesthesia). It helped for a few hours, and then my pain became even worse. I'm still waiting for it to settle. I hope that it does.
I'm also now dealing with the Specific Carbohydrate Diet on top of the already very strict IC Diet, for two weeks while I take an antibiotic to help with my IBS. I am ridiculous hungry, and I really hope it's worth it.
And so the fight goes on.
Hey guys! It seems like a good time to give you another life update, in the form of "-ing" verbs.
Eating: plain popcorn and organic sugar cookies
Drinking: organic apple juice
Wearing: a grey wrap dress
Reading: Black Widow: Red Vengeance by Margaret Stohl
Writing: a personal project
Editing: nothing right now
At the end of last week, my bladder gave up. Again.
I went from my everyday “yes sir, this is quite unpleasant, this is some very bad pain here, sir,” constant-heating-pad-use, never-able-to-wear-pants pain to “I want to scream and throw things, BUT THAT WOULD JUST HURT MORE”, unable-to-sleep-or-eat, not-even-able-to-wear-underwear pain. My bladder was tired of all the stress, all of me trying to push myself to do “just a little more, come on, this shouldn’t be so hard,” and it decided that my very strict diet and Elmiron doses weren’t enough. Neither was the heating pad. Neither was the ibuprofen, or the emergency hydrocodone. Coriander tea, which has by far been the most effective pain reliever, could only do enough to keep me from totally losing it.
Thankfully, my urologist came through for me and prescribed some new emergency pain meds for me to use. I’m having another hydrodistention under anesthesia, which should reset my pain to at least a tolerable level, next week.
Except I’m starting to wonder what “tolerable” really looks like.
I’ve been suffering from severe fatigue for the past seven months—though it had been building up for at least three years—along with tremors, muscle weakness, and a loss of balance that can’t really be explained by the fibromyalgia or the interstitial cystitis diagnoses. For the past few months, my energy has been so limited that, in order to get an hour or so’s worth of clear thought a day—just to be able to write a blog post or two!—I have to spend the rest of the day in bed doing little but watching TV. Every action on my part means extreme sacrifice, because I have so little to give in the first place. Think of the Biblical widow’s mite, but, like, way less inspiring.
Hello, friends! I figured it's time to do another Taking Stock post, in which I use a bunch of "-ing" verbs to tell you what all is up in my life. Which isn't much, because my high state of disability is continuing, but hey. It's something!
Making: myself get up every day
Eating: nice homemade chicken soup, but no delicious chocolate (boo for interstitial cystitis)
Drinking: low-fat non-alcholic eggnog
Reading: Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
Writing: a sekrit thing for myself
Editing: nothing right now
Wanting: to be less sick
Looking: tired, but also #gorgeous
Playing: a game called "how long can I stay in bed"
I'm an unpublished novelist, primarily of YA fantasy, working towards my MLIS degree. I love psychology, cats, social justice, and love! I'm also a huge fangirl. Basically, stories are my life.
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