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Author. Academic. Mad Woman | Critical takes on health and illness | Pre-order my book: https://www.amazon.ca/Becoming-Nicole-Luongo/dp/177133813X

Our definition of “recovery” needs more nuance.

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It’s simple, hun — you have the disease.” Tom says this as he hands me a wooden chip inscribed with the serenity prayer:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

An Australian biker who somehow landed in Westbank, Kelowna, Tom is paternal. I’ve never been told that I have a disease, but his words incite immense relief. I cannot stop drinking, and illness is better than badness.

I have done horrible things.

I accept a tattered copy of the Big…


#2: It creates “good” and “bad” survivors

Photo Credit: Karim Manja via Unsplash

Note: This article was inspired by watching a naked man get shot by the Vancouver Police Department. I am ashamed that I watched the video. I won’t link to it here because the news outlet that aired it should also be ashamed. I am now reflecting on all the times that I “behaved erratically”; that I ‘acted aggressively”; and that people called the VPD on me. I was never shot because I am a petite White woman, an identity that becomes especially salient while in psychosis and on drugs. Fuck — and I cannot stress this enough — the police…


But I do know what it says about the world around me.

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2020 has sucked.

I needn’t reiterate the toll taken by the pandemic (and with it, isolation, income loss, conspiracy theories, and astronomical death rates in ostensibly “advanced” nations), nor need I review the extent to which police brutality, racial uprisings, state neglect, and an attempted coup in the U.S. have taxed an already — overburdened western populous.


Charitable giving can do more harm than good. Here’s why, and here’s what to do instead.

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The Holidays are here, and ten months into a global pandemic that has ravaged families, exposed inequalities, and exacerbated wealth gaps, charitable giving is uniquely significant.

People need help — badly — and those who can give, want to. Covid may have revealed the cartoon villianesque greed of the one — percenters, but it has also inspired unity, forced us to interrogate how we define “essential worker,” and led to moments that are, frankly, heart — warming. Times are tough, but so are communities.

Charities recognize this, and because they know that most of us are fundamentally “kind” (or are…


Claiming that Beth’s ending was too “easy” reflects tired misconceptions about addiction

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Warning: This article contains spoilers

When I first read about The Queen’s Gambit, I expected it to be terrible. The Netflix miniseries dropped in October, and its protagonist, chess prodigy Beth Harmon, was immediately lauded for her beauty, wit, and nuance. She is a brilliant mess, and as is common in prestige television, her instability is emblemized by her substance use.

This is what I knew going in. I had seen the reviews calling Beth an alcoholic/addict, and as one myself, I was wary. More often than not, substance use becomes a character’s defining feature. …


What do we miss when we assume that eating disorders are just about appearance?

Not an accurate representation of my eating disorder. Photo Credit: Priscilla Du Preez via Unsplash

“Common — sense” narratives about eating disorders often refer to body image. To outsiders, those of us with anorexia, bulimia, binge — eating disorder, or some combination thereof are pathologically afraid of fatness, so much so that we we sacrifice our mental and physical health to maintain a desired body weight and shape.

This assumption is wrong for a few reasons: First, people in “socially unacceptable” bodies may have legitimate reasons to alter their appearance. Fatness is stigmatized, and institutional practices normalize discrimination on the basis of weight. …


Complicated. And More Common Than You Think.

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When you read the words “eating disorder,” what comes to mind?

Do you visualize a young woman? Is she White? Able-bodied? Emaciated?

For decades this is who we have been taught to associate with disordered eating. That anyone else might struggle with food and body image concerns has been overlooked for a few reasons, including selection bias: Research on disordered eating tends to draw from clinical samples, meaning that people without formal diagnoses are excluded. This is particularly true of poor people for whom accessing costly and time — intensive medical care is impossible.

Fortunately, public perception about disordered eating…


Like White saviorism, sober saviorism is based on coercion and control. It’s also inherently violent. How can we do better?

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Sober saviorism: The personal, cultural, and institutional projects that frame drug users as helpless victims to be rescued from themselves by non — drug using actors.

Drawing from “White saviorism,” the phenomenon of altruistic non — drug users guiding incompetent, unstable drug users from the margins to the mainstream in ways that are self — serving.

I have yet to see explicit comparisons made between White and sober saviorism despite their obvious parallels. For those not familiar, White saviors are those who feel good about “helping” racialized populations without critically reflecting on their complicity in race — based oppression. The…


Lived Through This

‘Medically unexplained’ symptoms are as misunderstood as they are common. Here’s what I wish people knew.

Distraught woman covering her face while lying on the ground against a black background.
Distraught woman covering her face while lying on the ground against a black background.
Photo: Hailey Kean/Unsplash

At 24 years old, my stomach hurt. A lot. It wasn’t “gastrointestinal discomfort” (though multiple doctors tried to argue about my diet), nor did it indicate that I was menstruating (I was anorexic and hadn’t done so in years).

This was a “my abdomen is being sliced down the middle by a jagged instrument while a third, more decisive tool churns my insides apart” pain. It was wrenching, twisting, mechanical. The pain started in my sternum and spread down, sideways, outward, and inward. Standing was bad; sitting made it worse. It took my breath away. …


“We are as sick as our secrets,” except when we’re not.

Photo credit: Kristina Flour via Unsplash

Note: This is the second part of a multi — part series exploring (and debunking) AA tropes. You can find part one here.

I have secrets. Lots of them. I bet you do, too.

Some are mundane, others might raise a few eyebrows, and others I will never disclose publicly because not only are they highly stigmatized, they could seriously mar future educational and employment opportunities. A few could lead to jail time.

I’m OK with this. In fact, I relish in my secrets. They are talismans of resilience; tokens I have collected while navigating hostile inner and outer worlds…

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