Please, please, stop asking if our mental illness is “cured”

I feel an all-to-familiar wrinkle in my stomach as the conversation shifts to a roundtable sharing of mental health issues — who’s recently taken a mental health day for self-care, who’s sometimes troubled by fleeting anxious thoughts.

As each person shares their trial or tribulation, slowly leaving only me who’s yet to speak, the wrinkle tightens into a thicker and thicker knot. It’s at this point I usually throw out an ambiguous “Oh, I’ve dealt with anxiety issues and a mood disorder, but I’m doing much better now” and leave it at that. …

The COVID-19 pandemic made our lives rigid and frozen. Now (maybe) those jagged edges will begin to melt.

Before any lockdowns, mask mandates, even before the spread of SARS-CoV-2 was labeled a pandemic, I’d paid attention. From the first mention I came across on Twitter, early in January 2020, describing an epidemic of infections from a mysterious virus, I searched for as much detail as I could find. Having a chronic illness and weakened immune system, I worried that the virus would soon spread to the U.S. My family told me I was too anxious, my mind hyperattentive to a…

I have a recurring dream where I’m at the top of an extremely tall building, peering over the edge, every part of my body screaming at me to return to safety. On a few rare occasions, I’ve fallen. Usually, I’m just stuck up there, above the clouds, wondering how I came to be in this perilous situation.

These dreams led me to research what it’s like to live in a super skyscraper. Who are these people who feel stable 90 floors above the ground? How do they sleep while around them, their perilous “home” sways in the wind? I found…

My family has always cared about our holiday traditions. But will that stay true for Christmas 2020?

Plates with pierogi, bobalki, and glasses of pea soup sitting on top of a red, white, and green Christmas table cloth.
Plates with pierogi, bobalki, and glasses of pea soup sitting on top of a red, white, and green Christmas table cloth.

November and December have been brutal in the United States, coronavirus-wise. The state my family and I live in, Illinois, is no exception. With far too many people refusing to alter their Thanksgiving plans, families across the region gathered to celebrate the holiday, putting each other and their communities at risk. People around the country, maybe especially in the Midwest, were tethered to tradition in a year where tradition can be perilous. Instead of innovating and coming up with alternative ways to give thanks, too many stayed stuck in a dangerous rut, driving up COVID infections and hospitalizations. …

Clear’s new Health Pass program could easily be used to discriminate against disabled people

Biometrics, tools which use individual unchangeable characteristics to verify one’s identity, are being woven into increasingly more areas of our lives. From fingerprints to facial recognition databases, biometric technology is being used on our phones, at airports and other travel centers, and banks.

Additionally, it’s easier than ever to track and collect health data using apps or wearables like Apple Watch or FitBit. The expanding use of these identifiers and data, along with the privacy concerns they bring up, are hot topics as the industry expands. …

Disability Pride Month and the 30th anniversary of the ADA have me reflecting on how my own disabilities have shaped my life & community.

content notes: suicidal ideation

Overhead photo of a winding road through a snowy forest
Overhead photo of a winding road through a snowy forest

July is Disability Pride Month, and this year marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA.

Finding pride in my disabilities was a long, complicated journey. I had to deconstruct years of internalized ableism that had built up in my brain and replace it with the recognition that my disabilities are a part of who I am, a part of what makes me, me. This recognition was more natural with some of my disabilities and illnesses than others, and it’s work that is far from complete. Connecting to other disabled people was…

a man sitting on a stool in front of a healthcare worker wearing full PPE. They are preparing to swab the man’s nose.
a man sitting on a stool in front of a healthcare worker wearing full PPE. They are preparing to swab the man’s nose.

There’s a lot of talk about the various tests available for COVID-19 and how they can aid us in stopping the spread of the virus. If you’re not a particularly science-y person, figuring out what all these tests do and why they matter might seem daunting. But I’m here to break down each type of testing into plain language and help you understand how they can help combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Who Should Be Tested?

The CDC recommends that the following groups of people get viral testing for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes the disease COVID-19):

-people with symptoms of COVID-19

-asymptomatic people exposed…

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and its nearly unchecked spread in the United States, it’s understandably tempting to point fingers at people refusing to wear masks, social distance, and stay home, all measures we know work to curb virus spread. For those of us who are high risk, who are less likely to make it out the other side if the virus finds its way into our bodies, it can feel like a personal attack when people refuse to do their part. Shaming can be cathartic, and arguably warranted, but it’s also ineffective. …

“Staying home for this long is so boring, I just can’t spend this much time at home.”
I could feel my eyes weaken and blur as I read that status update. My mind wandered back to when I first started getting sick with an autoimmune disease. At the time, I didn’t know what was wrong, beyond some vague abnormal lab results, but I was barely able to eat or get out of bed. I’d given up on school and my job as a pharmacy technician because my symptoms (and poor accessibility on the part of my school and place of employment)…

Conspiracy theories are running rampant during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve written before about why people are prone to believing misinformation and conspiracy theories about the coronavirus, things like low health literacy and cognitive biases. But recently, I wondered if there wasn’t another factor in play, something that I was intimately familiar with as a person with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Magical thinking refers to the phenomenon of attributing causality to mysterious or unseen forces as a way to explain things that happen. In psychology, magical thinking can be a symptom of certain disorders, like schizotypal personality disorder, schizophrenia, and OCD. While…

Sarah K Stricker

Writing about disability, chronic illness, & mental health. MS in health communication from @NUHealthComm. Find my work in Invisible Illness & No End in Sight.

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