Sick: A Compilation Zine on Physical Illness

Sick: A Compilation Zine on Physical Illness

by Ben Holtzman

Sick collects peoples' experiences with illness to help establish a collective voice of those impacted within radical/left/DIY communities. The zine is meant to be a resource for those who are living with illness as well as those who have not directly experienced it themselves. Contributors discuss personal experiences as well as topics such as receiving support, providing support, and being an informed patient. These writings are meant to increase understandings of illness and further discussion as well as action towards building communities of care.  Check out the Sick Blog.

 
 

Comments

Razorcake 8/28/2010

“What an odd, senslessly threatening, and lovely thing these people have put together. It's never easy to confront serious illness or handicap, either in real life or in your heads. This reads as a sharp reminder of human beings' general frailty, our knife-balance of life, and fear of death (or worse). Sick, a collection of autobiographics by the handicapped, sick, ill, or however strikes at you with all of that existential baggage. And it leaves you equal parts sad and hopeful, dread and soaring. Life isn't all drunken stargazing and warm socks, and it isn't all colostomy bags and mortal genetic fluctuations either. Sick rests comfortably in the middle. They don't want your pity; they just wouldn't mind your understanding.”

Roctober 7/23/2010

"Using a d.i.y. zine style book (which comes across in the writing, not in the beautiful, clean design) to actually relate something real and heavy (as opposed to real and self-indulgent and meaningless, like which Vegan ice cream is more cruelty free or how you got beat up outside the Avail show) is pretty powerful. These jarring tales of the writers' serious, incurable illnesses is a difficult but rewarding read. Moral: Be loving and supportive of your sick friends and family, because the health care system and most of their friends won't be!"

Dagger Zine 6/20/2010

Sick is a compilation of stories by writers sharing the gory details of their experience with physical illness. It is a fascinating read. From kidney disease to hypoglycemia, everyone has a story to tell, not just about having one’s body go to war with oneself, but how sickness can affect people’s connections to the folks they love. It’s about our really broken healthcare system. And it’s true, in most public circles, people don’t really wanna hear about this. Sickness is depressing. It’s ugly. It’s not very cool to go on and on about problems with your bowels, or whatever. But being sick is not all there is to Sick. It’s about knowing oneself on a new level. It’s about living that old saying “Whatever doesn’t kill you, really does fucking make you stronger.” www.microcosmpublishing.com MARINA MENEGOL

Feminist Review 5/26/2010

"Sick gracefully navigates its way through a wide range of experiences as it aims to open the channels of communication and establish a collective voice for those impacted by illness. How do we respond when someone tells us they are sick? How many people in our community are transparent about having a disability or illness? What can we do to help each other feel welcome, equal, and supported?

The zine also considers exclusivity within radical/DIY/punk scenes. How does someone’s level of health determine their participation in a particular community? Riding a bicycle, marching in a protest, and dumpster diving, for instance, are activities accessible primarily to the able-bodied. To avoid being ostracized or dismissed, many sick individuals find themselves pushed into the proverbial closet of shame and isolation.

In our culture, sickness is a private affair. We have been socialized to fear or ignore it. Consequently, sick people must not only learn to manage their own disease, but are often burdened with others’ inability to openly discuss and cope with illness. Often racked with feelings of guilt, isolation, and alienation, it is essential that a sick person’s experiences are acknowledged and validated. This is what Sick achieves. It opens dialogue and validates experience. Perhaps we cannot understand what it means to have supraventricular tachycardia, but we can learn to listen and ask our friends how we can provide the support they need.

Though the accounts in Sick can be grim or downright disturbing, the writers’ warm resilience brightens every page with hope for opening discourse and dismantling entrenched social norms. It’s the writers’ heartfelt declarations and earnest desire to create a caring community that makes this read so compelling.

Sick is a compassionate, honest work and a necessary first step toward understanding the complexities of physical illness and building communities of support. It is challenging and tender; it is unprecedented and accessible."

Anton News 1/26/2010

“The stories are gritty, no-holds-barred, firsthand accounts of what it is like to live and cope with physical illness and chronic disease, including the struggle to get and then find one’s way through the maze that is health insurance. By openly revealing what it feels like to be young and sick, the authors - mostly young women - go a long way toward supporting [the zine’s] vision.

Hospitals and physicians would do well to have this publication, and ones like it, available as resources for young people with physical illnesses and their friends and family members. Giving voice to what it is like to suffer in silence, is a way that these young DIY authors have extended the bonds of belonging to create true communities of care.”

Dagger Zine 1/26/2010

Sick is a compilation of stories by writers sharing the gory details of their experience with physical illness. It is a fascinating read. From kidney disease to hypoglycemia, everyone has a story to tell, not just about having one’s body go to war with oneself, but how sickness can affect people’s connections to the folks they love. It’s about our really broken healthcare system. And it’s true, in most public circles, people don’t really wanna hear about this. Sickness is depressing. It’s ugly. It’s not very cool to go on and on about problems with your bowels, or
whatever. But being sick is not all there is to Sick. It’s about knowing oneself on a new level. It’s about living that old saying “Whatever doesn’t kill you, really does fucking make you stronger.”

Maximum RnR 1/26/2010

“Everyone needs to get their hands on this zine immediately. This compilation of nineteen people’s experience with physical illness confronts issues of support and care within radical and DIY communities, as well as issues of silencing and secrecy, as productive dialogue about illness rarely has a space to exist amidst raucous punk shows and frenzied activist organizations. This zine is immensely important not only for those who experience physical illness, but also for those who have never had to deal with such issues, as the contributors provide powerful insight into the ways in which those with illnesses cope within our communities, as well as, tangible ways of supporting people, and advice for navigating the health care system. The writings reflect on an extensive range of physical illnesses, from kidney disease, to Crohn’s and Lyme disease, and they also point to monumental variety of emotions, from isolation to hopelessness, that people are forced to deal with. Sick provides a space for the voices that have been silenced in our communities to emerge, and it is an invaluable resource for those who experience physical illness and their allies.”

Sickzine 1/5/2010

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS ON PHYSICAL ILLNESS

Sick: A Compilation Zine on Physical Illness collects peoples' experiences with illness to help establish a collective voice of those impacted by illness within radical/left/diy communities. The zine is meant to be a resource for those who are living with illness as well as those who have not directly experienced it themselves. We're doing a second issue of Sick now and are looking for submissions.

Submissions should be 750-2500 words. Somewhat longer pieces may be considered, or may be hosted on the Sick zine website. We are open to submissions in other media, such as comics, drawings, photography, or collage. For more information on the previous edition and the ongoing project, see our website:http://sickzine.blogspot.com/. To get a copy of the first edition, go tohttp://microcosmpublishing.com/catalog/books/2764/

Please be in touch with questions and submission ideas: sickzine at gmail dot com

Potential topics:
Personal narratives of living with illness • Illness and support within left/ radical / DIY scenes • Current or historic examples of community-based groups that focus on the politics of illness or support of community members • Intersections of race / gender / sexuality / class / culture and illness • Experiences with doctors, hospitals and treatments • Body image / identity and illness • Bridging the space between disability and illness • Disempowerment / empowerment of illness • Mental health and physical illness • The experiences of being a caregiver • How life changes after a diagnosis • Living with multiple diagnoses • Illness as taboo • Insurance • The financial burden of illness • Sex and illness • Illness and creativity • Illness and isolation • The invisibility of illness • Providing support to someone living with illness • Creating and sustaining community support networks

In addition to pieces by individuals, we'd like to include a few pieces about the work that community-based groups have done to address the politics of illness and to support those dealing with illness. If you are a member of such a group, please feel free to write!

THE DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS IS ARPIL 17th, 2010

Please forward this message on, and spread the word!

Additionally, if you know anyone who would like to donate funds of any amount to support the printing of this issue, please have them contact sickzine at gmail dot com

Somnambulist Zine 10/24/2009

"I have read and re-read "Sick- A compilation zine on physical illness" and each time I do, I get new things out of it. I often wonder though, how people without illness would view the zine, if they would get as much of, if anything from it. Regardless, I highly recommend this zine for those struggling with physical illness and for anyone who has a friend or loved one who is sick.

There is some great advice in this book, but there is also just a lot of beautiful writing. I particularly liked Kristin Alysia Pape's piece about living with pain as a result of her MS and diabetes. She writes about our lack of useful language in describing pain: " Our metaphors for pain are always about violence to the body … I'm trying to find a more accurate language, one that accounts for the pain of disease without casting the disease as a violent opposition, an enemy army. Being constantly at war is exhausting." I couldn't agree more. Sometimes, lying in bed, pain rolling up and down my legs like waves, I think that my pain isn't always necessarily unpleasant. There is a wide spectrum of sensation involved with the body, and the way we describe it in the English language doesn't always account for this variety.

Another point in Pape's essay to which I could relate is the section where she describes giving herself shots. I'm not sure how often she has to do this, but because I give myself five shots a day, I knew how she felt when she wrote: "Think of stopping the treatment that only makes you sick so that you don't get sicker. Dream, guilty, of release: wheelchair, numbness, the body finally silenced, nothing left to be done. Tell yourself you're just tired. Irrational. Know you'll dutifully do it, the shot, again, on schedule." This is the kind of statement only a really sick person can truly understand. You don't have to worry about making the wrong choice because in the end, you know, begrudgingly, that you'll make the only decision you can make: the decision to go on living.

There is a bunch of other really great stuff in the zine. Several pieces deal with how to treat yourself when you're sick, others address how to be a good friend to someone with an illness. So please if you have even a marginal interest in the topic, if you know someone who is sick, or if you yourself are sick, buy this zine!!"

avatar allisbe 8/4/2009

I have only just skimmed the book and deeply read a few of the essays, but already I feel so glad for having it. Dealing with chronic illness can be extremely lonely, it is comforting to know there are others out there that feel the same sense of isolation. Thank you.

avatar brittany shoot 7/7/2009

As I wrote to Ben privately, this is one of those unique zines that offers both sides of the coin - the difficulty of dealing with a problem, and solutions for moving forward. I'm truly inspired by the entire collection, and it's an honor to be included among such thoughtful writers.

avatar Leigh 7/3/2009

I read this zine and really enjoyed it. I think it offers a tremendous amount of inspiration. I especially appreciated the practical elements on how to offer support to one another.

avatar microcosm 6/26/2009

Not Okay: Dealing with Incurable Illness: Krista Ciminera
Illness, Disability, and the Punk Paradox: Luci
Scar Mates: Rainbow
Black Cloud: Emiko Badillo
The Invisible Witness: Emily Klamer
A Letter to Family and Friends Without Hepatitis: Sarah Hughes
It Hurts. No Really. It Hurts: Joe Biel
Me and My Brother: Rachel
My Coming Out as Sickly Story: Mandy Earley
Radical Heart Support: Lauren Denitzio
555.1: Erica
Cut Across the Dotted Line: Tessa Petrocco
Clearing Head: a Story About Migraines: Brittany Shoot
What I"ve Learned From Chronic Lyme Disease: Andrea Runyan
My Body is the Brilliant Contradiction: Five Meditations on Being Ill (Excerpt): Kristin Alysia Pape
Illness and Support: Ben Hotlzman
The Other Side of Support: ema
Care for Bodies and Sustainable Communities: Beth Puma
Tips for being a "Patient': Ben Holtzman

sorry it took so long. love, microcosm