Letter from the Editor(s)
By: Christina Shideler
WELL. This issue is far later than any of us intended it to be. Because truly sometimes life couldn’t give a fuck if you’re finally giving time to something you care about. Like some Bermuda Triangle perfect storm of absolute shit, all of us co-founders have been navigating wave upon wave of life diarrhea for quite some time. I don’t want to speak on their behalf, but I will speak on my own.
The last year I’ve been pretty sick. I went from having three jobs and my own projects a couple of years ago to having to cut down to one part time job and basically nothing else. There were weeks when even this felt like too much. I’m not gunning for your sympathy, though everyone could use more of it, and I’m not willfully being vague. I still don’t have a diagnosis, and sometimes that feels like the worst part. (Wait, no, that is nowhere near the worst part. There are so many worse parts: sleeping 10 hours only to wake up still feeling so sleepy that I weep thinking of the few hours of work and commuting that I have to do. The constant brain fog from constant fatigue and pain that makes me feel incapable and not myself, like the dumbest clone of a clone from Multiplicity. The isolation and associated loneliness. Oh god. Yeah, that’s the one. That’s the worst part).
Being sick in the late stage capitalist wonderland that is 2019 America and its spiritual capital, New York City, is the kind of mind fuck that riddles adulthood, yet still seems completely surprising and impossible. There are so many humiliations: so many doctors that want to blame everything on weight, so much bodily fluid to collect and be drained of, so many cold people with no shred of empathy in a profession that is supposedly about care. So many bills, so much scheduling, so much research and self-advocacy because a woman’s pain is rare to be believed. So many friends who wonder where you’ve gone, but don’t ask how you are, or offer to accommodate your limitations. Did I mention the loneliness? And then there’s yourself to contend with: feeling like because you don’t have a diagnosis maybe you are exaggerating, until you remind yourself that you walked around New York City with a broken thumb for three weeks until the pain finally told you to stop. There’s the inability in this country to extract self-worth from career, and going back to part-time feels like a step back. Relying on others financially, emotionally, physically making you feel like a burden. And all of this is on top of your body just constantly giving out on you. Realizing that you may never be able to live like you used to. You never get to take your health for granted again, and I could say some inspirational shit about how it teaches you to be grateful but wow would I love to be able to take my health for granted. To factor it in as a given that it will move without pain or wake refreshed or walk more than two blocks without feeling sick.
It’s not all bad. Spoon theory is real (Google it!) and so I can only pick about two things. Thing 1: the job I have to do to survive. Thing 2: writing. Because writing has the best ratio of energy put in to aliveness felt. New people, new experiences, recreational drug use. These things used to make me feel alive. But they’re gone now and I have to try and be okay with that. I am lucky that it happened in your 30s, and I already married some poor sap who has to support this shell version of myself. If you’re lucky, you play in your own head and get enjoyment from that. This too sounds inspirational, but it’s just the result of a cost benefit analysis. I would love to keep putting off writing to accidentally walk into a street fair or do acid on a Tuesday night, but this is what I have left to give life a little bit of tszuj.
So, forgive the lateness of this issue. As of now, the future of the magazine is uncertain. I’d love to keep it going, but I’m still figuring out my limits, boundaries, and priorities. And this is pretty high on the list, but the list has been cut pretty short. I’d love to do an issue about chronic illness and disability, though, because you have to find the humor and beauty in some of these humiliations to survive. But for now, Hysterical is hanging out here in limbo with me and my diagnosis.
But this issue is fresh off the presses, and I love it and hope you will too. Reading the work here is one of the few things that could get my sick ass excited about the potential for creativity and risk-taking with words (and pictures).
In closing, if you’re sick, be it physically or mentally, and want someone to listen as you complain, hit me up. I’m here, and I’m lonely too.
Thanks for reading. I hope this is au revoir and not adieu.