As stated in the zine’s subtitle, SICK is indeed a compilation zine made up of about 20 pieces from various writers. Most of these writers are experiencing some type of physical illness themselves. And at least a couple are written from the point of view of caring for a loved one with an illness. As a collection, the reader is presented with a valuable resource of information about various physical illnesses—and more importantly for the uninformed like me—how to support others with these illnesses. What is painfully surprising to me is the very common theme that seems to run throughout: that these people with physical illnesses have just about been forced to hide their struggles for fear of exclusion.
Quoting Ben from his introduction: “Too often those of us who are living with illness, have felt that our experiences are not welcome in conversation, even within radical/alternative communities. Illness is considered taboo; it’s seen by many as awkward, if not depressing, to bring up.”
Each submission has something to say and likely you’ll put this zine down with lots of newfound knowledge from which to pull.
In a mostly compassionless world we need zines like this in our lives to get us back on the right track. It is likely that we will all find ourselves giving and receiving support, as Emily Klamer writes in her piece, “The Invisible Witness”: “The experience of illness and/or disability can be likened to a body of water most of us will be submerged within, either as the sick or the caretaker, at one point or another. As Wendell writes in her work, The Rejected Body, ’Unless we die suddenly, we are all disabled eventually.’ Some of us are only temporarily dunked into the depths, while others will bob among the crests and troughs for our entire lives. Either way, the majority of us end up wet eventually. This impending shared experience can be used as a point of departure for temporarily able-bodied people to work towards a more viable solidarity with sick/dis/abled people. As Wendell also notes, ’Realizing that aging is disabling helps non-disabled people to see that people with disabilities are not ’Other,’ that they are really themselves at a later time.”
Of all the zines that I’ve read thus far in my life, I can honestly state that SICK has had the most impact. While this may shed some shortcomings in my own life, I’d like to think that the power lies with what this zine has to offer.