Cottagecore: an Internet community devoted to a nostalgic rural aesthetics and homely comforts. Associated social media accounts are full of freshly baked bread, bunches of wildflowers gathered from hedgerows and beautiful young women wearing flowing summer dresses or chunky jumpers, a picturesque life set to a soundtrack of gentle strings and Taylor Swift’s lockdown album, Folklore.
Tris didn’t do things by halves. Neither did his illness. By his early 20s, a severe case of ulcerative colitis had ravaged his body, leaving it an angry and inflamed version of its former. On the precipice between life and death, he’d lost more than 30 kilograms. A solitary photo from this time shows the devastation. He stands in a hospital room leaning on a walking stick, a bushy beard covering his jawline, his chest a rack of bones.
December 22. Nothing but ravens in the sky. The winter solstice, my second of the year, is drawing us into the heart of a great mist. Two winters, like two long swimming pools. Not quite interminable, but there is a moment midway when the flags are lost, and there is a panicked intake of breath as the feet try for the bottom but the lungs know they won’t reach. Summer in Melbourne is at its fullest, ripest swell.
By now there is enough criticism of the mental health business out there that it seems to me most engaged readers have been informed about the problems: psychiatry makes a false equivalence of the brain and the person, psychiatry pathologises some of the normal problems of human life, psychiatrists enforce highly constrained norms of thought and behaviour, and psychiatrists don’t value patients’ autonomy. There is still however a lot of confusion about the status of the things that psychiatrists treat. These are by no means illnesses, and the medications doctors use to treat them are by no reasonable measure effective.
rantz Fanon spent much of his life in hospitals, as a worker, writer, and patient. Much of Fanon’s work examined hospitals as institutions of social control, medicalising criminality, and exercising colonial powers. To Fanon, ‘colonialism in its essence was already taking on the aspect of a fertile purveyor for psychiatric hospitals’ – creating the social conditions that enabled the diagnosis of psychiatric disorders, and in turn, the need for institutions capable of housing and controlling the ‘sick’.