Timothy Andrew, Ayla Brett, Lydia Mcilhone, Rose Mcilhone, Nik Ranger
Chronic Illhouse is a collection of stories, art, and poetry from young people dealing with chronic illnesss. It’s one of those zines that I knew I had to get a copy of as soon as I heard of it. I was so happy to grab a copy at the Melbourne Art Book Fair earlier this year.
I feel multiple levels of appreciation for this zine. First, because it includes both physical and mental chronic illnesses. I don’t know why I assumed that it would be only physical, but I love that it’s not. That small thing reminded me that, as open-minded as I want to be, I still have these inbuilt thoughts when phrases like ‘chronic illness’ come up.
Inside, you will find Timothy Andrew’s creations about Crohn’s Disease, Ayla Brett’s creations about Chronic Kidney Disease, Lydia Mcilhone’s creations about Endometriosis, Rose Mcilhone’s creations about Major Depressive Disorder, and Nik Ranger’s creations about chronic pain. I love that I need to write ‘creations’ instead of ‘stories’ because the people in this zine have expressed themselves not only in words but in images as well. Art therapy is important for a number of reasons, and it was good to see it included here.
I think a table of contents would have been a good addition for this zine if only for the sake of someone who didn’t read it but might have if they had seen their (or someone they loved) condition listed amongst the pages.
I also appreciate what this zine does and represents in a world where sharing your story is so important, and conversations are how we can remove stigmas surrounding so many things.
To be honest, I thought all of the work I found in this zine would be heartbreaking. That the entire experience of this zine would be difficult emotionally. Yet, it wasn’t. I mean no disrespect to those sharing their stories; these are harrowing conditions and the fact that they are a life sentence makes it all the more weighty to deal with. What I mean is that I feel like this zine hit its mark; I wasn’t feeling upset or pity for these people. All the pieces were like conversations in which I could get to know more about their experiences. It helped me to understand more from the safety and comfort of my home as well as helped me to feel like I could share my own stories in the future.
I do hope that their Facebook page, or any other spaces they create, is included in the next edition, because I can see this zine being a great space for people dealing with chronic illness now and in the future. I look forward to reading all the future editions.