WHEN LANGUAGE RUNS DRY: A ZINE FOR PEOPLE WITH CHRONIC PAIN AND THEIR ALLIES #5, $4, 5 ½” x 8 ½”, 52 pgs.

A sharp-looking compilation zine about how people live with chronic pain, which is defined as “pain that persists for more than six months [that] is often mysterious and goes undiagnosed [and] can stem from injury, illness, surgical complications, or can be an inherited condition.” I got a lot out of When the Language Runs Dry, probably because I’ve had acquaintances with chronic pain, but I’ve never really understood what they were going through, aside from the obvious. This zine is a teaching tool, but it feels like a publication I’d definitely be reading if I were experiencing chronic pain, too. It features work which validates the experience of those who are living with such hurt. One comic explored the way pain plays with time (time slows down with pain and pain steals time, too), and another comic follows a social worker through her day: patients get treatment, some die unexpectedly, and friends ask for help outside of work, too. The narrator tries to handle all of this psychic weight with grace. But it’s hard. To that end, being graceful, one essay taught me about the spoon theory. This theory basically suggests that we only have so much energy to give. Obligations tax our energy. Pushing our limits harms us. It called the Spoon Theory because of this visual. Picture a bunch of spoons on top of each other in a drawer, maybe five of them. Work costs three spoons. You’ve only got two left at the end of the day. You can use one to make dinner, maybe one more to stay up and read, whatever. But if you’re out late, you might nourish some part of your social life, but you’d also be stealing from that next day’s energy. This zine is good, and I hope you read it. –Jim Joyce ([email protected], chronicpainzine.blogspot.com)