Mad femmes glitching: a conversation on Being

Image Description: An image of a glitching screen with a white outline of a person in front of it.

By: Kitty Sipple

Note: This is a transcript of the conversation, edited for clarity. vocal tics and moments of echolalia were retained.

Date: sometime December 2021 / location: zoom call


K – I was reading Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice last night, by Leah Lakshmi


A – Yep. Love it.

K – I have memory stuff where sometimes I don’t know if I’ve read something. I don’t know if I’ve

read the full book or if I maybe skipped around. When I was reading in the first section recently

and scanned the contents, I realized that there were two pieces on suicide. I really wanted to

read them before we talked. And I did – I was able to read them. But even though they were

later in this book that felt new, it also felt like I had already read them. Do know what ‘rememory’


A – Rememory? I feel like I do. But could you define it in your own words.

K – So it’s a concept that Toni Morrison wrote a lot about. I don’t know if she’s the one who

created the concept but that’s kind of where I first heard it, from her point of view. It’s this

remembering, of some part of history that you understand. So, it’s like a memory, but you’re

remembering the memory of it. I feel like it explains dissociation a lot. Sometimes, it’s like having

memories come back where it feels like you’re remembering something, but you also know it as

you’re remembering it. As if, it’s a memory that you’ve always had, even if it was gone.


K – Okay, so one of these pieces was written reflecting on this series of femme deaths that

happened in 2016. These femmes were really prominent queer femmes in the community, and

they all died by suicide quickly one after another. The whole piece looks at the historical

understanding of what Leah Lakshmi calls ‘femme suicide science’. It was so beautiful because

all the writing talks about this spatial understanding, that some people just exist on the

suicidality spectrum. That there can actually be a lot of abundance, wisdom, connection,

survival, and thriving living on that spectrum. And it was just so beautiful. Do you know what I’m

referencing? I can read some of it.

A – So I feel like I know what you’re referencing, but I just cannot call it like recall it from my from

my memory.

K – The piece is kind of broken up into these pieces of wisdom that Leah Lakshmi learned

through having gone through this like really intense femme loss, in a short period of time. One

piece of wisdom that they write is “Being perceived as too much can kill you” and really kind of

focusing that on like Mad femmes, crazy femmes. And that like being perceived as ‘too much,

too big’ can [kill you]. Another piece was where they held a femme circle, and I’ll just read the


Leah Lakshmi writes, “When we asked folks what they did to stay alive. The

answers were a rainbow femme quilt of femme emotional intelligence. Meds Netflix

therapy prayer herbs change breakups fresh nails praying to the ancestors breaking

bottles finding a friend you can be crazy with shutting down social media reaching

out on social media groups that felt safe crying baths all the crystals shit talk. All

little things that weren’t so little. It struck me, watching them, how easily they might

be called “nothing” by the outside world. Minimized, like femmes are.”

A – Okay, okay, I love that so much. I have so many thoughts.

K – Right? I’ll just reference the last quote, and then let’s talk about it because it’s so good, right?

Because I think it really adds this really wonderful woven in dimensionality that we have talked

about before. Last part and this is how the piece ends. Wow.

Leah Lakshmi writes, “Two or three things I know about femme suicide, and they

are: I believe in fighting for femmes to stay alive. I believe fighting for us to live is a

revolutionary act. I believe that when we shift conditions of ableism, femmephobia,

sexism, classism, transmisogyny, fatphobia, and whorephobia, everyone gets more

free and safe and able to stay. I believe in femmes first. I believe in crazy femmes

first. I want us to live. I mean to survive, and I can’t do it alone. My grief about

femme suicide is the garden where our future grows.”

A – Yeah, that hits. So what immediately speaks to me is that for as long as I’ve been a suicidal

Mad femme – I, well, even before I even recognized myself as such, I always felt like I was too

much. I always felt too big too, loud too. Just too much. And when I really found a group of

people, a group of femmes to connect with that were also Mad, one of the first things that we did

as a group that I remember feeling really proud of is creating the ‘Bad Coping Skills List’.


A – It’s so good. And God, I hope it doesn’t ever fall into the wrong hands. But, um, it was this list

of all the things that we did to stay alive. Things that were also like, wildly frowned upon by like

society, but that were, you know, were actual coping skills. Everything from like, substance use

to, uhh, keying your ex’s car.


A – Because it’s partially a joke, right? But also I have wanted to die because of… I have

personally felt extraordinarily suicidal when important relationships, relationships where I have

been very vulnerable have fallen apart right in front of me. And it has intensified my desire to

die. So wanting retribution, wanting, you know, like, God forbid, I want to fucking get back at

somebody that’s hurt me. You know what I’m saying. So, it’s inappropriate to wreck your ex’s

car, right? But at the same time, that act has felt like an act of survival in a way. And so as you

read that passage out of Leah’s book, it reminds me of the bad coping skills that we’re told, you

know: reach out, call a hotline, stay alive, whatever you do, stay alive, like, don’t die. And then in

acts of desperation, we’re doing these things to stay alive. But then we also hear “but don’t do

that thing.” Don’t do that thing? It feels wildly hypocritical how confined we are in the ways that

we are told to survive. Like, “you can survive, but you have to survive this way.”

K – It is. As you were talking, I pulled up this amazing Instagram account I found called Saved

by the bell hooks.

A – I love that one!

K – So grateful and I brought up the picture of Lisa Turtle on the phone wearing this amazing

dress. This one says ‘we cannot have a meaningful revolution without humor.’ It connects back

to that role of dark humor, Mad levity, right? Like the ‘Bad Coping Skills List’ sounds incredible!

Because you know, no matter what – even if everything listed under there is something people

might consider serious, more extreme, or on the edges of walking in survivalhood – the title

alone like sparks this idea that what you’re (what you’re) potentially about to read is already

against the moral majority. It’s like a bad coping skill is already like an immoral stance that you

don’t, you know, do and I think this list allows space for the dystopian and the absurd to live,

side by side. Sometimes, suicidality is like that.

A – So you bring up the the brilliant bell hooks – may she rest in sweet peace. And of course,

right now everybody is posting their experiences with how she impacted them. Not everybody,

but but lots of people in our little bubble are. It’s been really beautiful to witness. People are

posting about how she impacted their work, their lives, their identities, the way they love, the

way they fight. And there’s this one tweet that that I saw where this person posted a screenshot

of a conversation they were having with her and this person said, “when I asked her a

convoluted question about attacking the power grid to destroy patriarchal civilization, she told

me that she believed in love, and her Buddhist teacher says that if a poisonous snake is going

to bite you, you got to kill that snake in the most loving way possible.”


A – I think that is so brilliant. We can hold both living and surviving and, dying and death. We can

hold peace and love and violence. And in the end, we do not have to exist in this binary, that the

binary is just thrust on us. Because we are actually more complex than that. I think of how

powerful for me personally, rage has been in my fight to live as a Mad femme. My desire to die

is very consuming and very–it’s, it’s always present. How I describe my own experiences,

wanting to die, sometimes it’s quiet, sometimes it’s quite loud and consuming. The thing that

keeps me around is rage. It is so powerful. It’s not what you typically hear about in the narrative

of the good suicide attempt survivor from the suicide prevention nonprofit industrial complex. I

don’t know why that came to me right now. This is all just to say that rage is such a powerful

tool. Anger is such a powerful tool in this fight to live and fight to exist in our Madness.

K – Yeah, I mean, I know I have a really interesting perspective on rage. This comes (this

comes) from synthesizing very long, many years, probably like a decade in really intensive

psychiatric and therapeutic patient programs. One of them had a lot of good information that I

have since been able to restructure and understand through like a non-pathologized lens. I got

really interested in learning about emotions, because I had no idea. Sometimes, I can’t even

understand what I’m feeling. I just felt bad for feeling anything. I didn’t understand the nuances

between emotions, but I’m a big word nerd. So if people get really synonymous with words, I

understand that words have different origins and different meanings, that they’re literally

different words. So, I get really into like, the different nuances of synonyms. A lot of people

equate rage and anger synonymously. Rage has a different contextual meaning because of the

stigma. It’s like, you know, people bristle at rage over anger. I learned this interesting kind of like

theory frames some emotions as primary. Like, there’s this core emotions. Everybody has them,

and anger is one of them. It was through this lens that anger is described as a total valid

emotion, that comes up when your boundaries or your values have been crossed. The anger is

part of you trying to reconnect after you have been crossed. You want to restore repair respond

in some way, but it definitely a protective thing. In that same framework, rage was a secondary

emotion that would come up after a primary emotion. So you can have anger as a primary

emotion and then you might feel rage as a secondary emotion. This happens because the

feeling of wanting to connect made you feel small, for whatever reason. So rage as the

secondary emotion blows you up — makes you bigger. So, I often think like righteous indignation

is a combination of the primary emotion of anger, like our values and our boundaries are

constantly crossed and we want to connect, but then we realize what we’re trying to connect

back to. That rage then comes out and makes the statement like, “Fuck it! No! I don’t want to

connect back to this horrible thing that keeps me in this cycle!” And that’s kind of how I think of

like indignation, which is righteous anger. That’s my thoughts on rage. I’m totally into it.

A – I think rage deserves so much more respect than it’s given. And like, let’s be real, the way

the world moves is fueled by rage. Even in thinking about the weather patterns, I see a lot of

symbols of rage, you know what I mean? I feel like climate chaos is rage.

K – No, it’s interesting that you brought this up because I like connecting this. I’m really

interested in connecting all of these things back to this idea of glitching and glitch work, as like a

technological aspect of our lives. We’re living in a world that is rapidly becoming this

autonomous digital landscape. More and more people are understanding that the value of (of)

holding space, caring, and doing care work in a digital landscape is different. It’s different, and

it’s important. For years, since the start of the early social internet in the early/mid 2000s, people

really ignored and trashed upon digital connections, digital work, or even digitally caring for

people in a digital landscape. But when you talk about like (like) eco-grief, climate chaos, the

crisis that’s unfolding, and how that pertains to this Mad lens of Mad care work with sharing

information online that saves people. Last night here was a big storm that hit here and you know

it’s this little local community trying to share where they see lightning and thunder, to try to

understand what’s coming. It was an ‘unprecedented storm’, which is every storm now. We live

in the era where every storm is unprecedented. So, doing care work online in this digital

landscape is like attending to public sharing of community knowledge, and also the public

sharing of rage, right? Like, being able to express eco-grief + eco-rage, and have people hold it

in a digital landscape, is this dual state of madness and care that is needed now. I just

experienced this last night, so I’m feeling a lot of gratitude.

K – No, it’s interesting that you brought this up because I like connecting this. I’m really

interested in connecting all of these things back to this idea of glitching and glitch work, as like a

technological aspect of our lives. We’re living in a world that is rapidly becoming this

autonomous digital landscape. More and more people are understanding that the value of (of)

holding space, caring, and doing care work in a digital landscape is different. It’s different, and

it’s important. For years, since the start of the early social internet in the early/mid 2000s, people

really ignored and trashed upon digital connections, digital work, or even digitally caring for

people in a digital landscape. But when you talk about like (like) eco-grief, climate chaos, the

crisis that’s unfolding, and how that pertains to this Mad lens of Mad care work with sharing

information online that saves people. Last night here was a big storm that hit here and you know

it’s this little local community trying to share where they see lightning and thunder, to try to

understand what’s coming. It was an ‘unprecedented storm’, which is every storm now. We live

in the era where every storm is unprecedented. So, doing care work online in this digital

landscape is like attending to public sharing of community knowledge, and also the public

sharing of rage, right? Like, being able to express eco-grief + eco-rage, and have people hold it

in a digital landscape, is this dual state of madness and care that is needed now. I just

experienced this last night, so I’m feeling a lot of gratitude.

A – I absolutely 100% agree with you. Glitch Feminism is a manifesto written by Legacy

Russell. And in the book they talk about how we can explore our identities and be in our

identities in digital spaces and virtual spaces. And I will also say that as a Mad person, I have

found community, especially with the pandemic, because my life has been uprooted for all kinds

of personal reasons recently, that I’m rather isolated at this point. Physically isolated. But I can

be my authentic self, I can be in my Madness in digital spaces. And I have found my people in

digital spaces. These relationships and my existence in these spaces and the validation that I

have received, the support that I have received and given in these spaces as opposed to Away

From Keyboard, it has saved me.

K – Can I pause you for a second? Is that what AFK means – Away From Keyboard?

A – Yes.

K – Holy shit.

A – So the reason I use Away From Keyboard is because of Legacy Russell. It’s because of

Glitch Feminism that I use this language instead of IRL. IRL or In Real Life is a term that’s used

in the same context but I think they mean or imply different things. I prefer Away From Keyboard

to In Real Life because existing in digital spaces is a real life experience. It does us no good to

try and separate and disentangle. For example, it is because of the support I get in digital

spaces that I am existing, able to exist Away From Keyboard, that I still have a heartbeat and a

pulse. So to try to pretend that those two existences can exist separately and not be informed

by each other is inaccurate for me at this point.

K – Oh, yeah. I was having these discussions to audiences that couldn’t care less, in like 2009,

like 12 years ago. And in tech spaces, I was like, this is important, like these digital relations.

They’d be like, “Oh, digital relationships are not as important as In Real Life relationships.” And I

was like, “You’re fucking wrong.” Like (like) AOL chat rooms saved my fucking life. ICQ! This is

(this is) what you’re talking about – like your engagement with technology was a novelty, and

mine was survival. It was the only way I was seen. And (and) there was such a disconnect. I

really saw this growth + possibility in this kind of like digital transhumanism, that others were

like, “What are you talking about?” But now (now) it’s like more people are talking about it. And if

this is what Glitch Feminism speaks about, I’m into it.

A – At the beginning of the book, like before the manifesto even starts, Legacy writes a dedication.

They dedicate the book to someone that they lost. Now I’m not sure if the person

that they lost died by suicide necessarily, but this just, I think, speaks to what we’re talking

about. They say, “Oh, dear one we’ve lost but who lives on online for you, we write your name

here and occupy this space,” and then there’s a blank where we can write in the name of

someone we’ve lost, and then it says “Say their name. Say their name. Say their name.”9

Forgive me for being sad real quick, but we have lost many people this year. I feel like I’ve lost

more people this year than any other year before. It’s physically breathtaking how much loss our

communities have endured. And I – I think I get it, you know, it’s hard to exist. And I get why

people – why our beautiful brilliant Mad comrades and lovers and friends and family don’t want

to exist. You know? I’m also so glad that the digital world exists because when we lose people,

whether they choose to die, or it happens by accident, or something else, they can live on,

online – that they don’t fade, you know? I think that as Mad people we endure loss differently. As

Mad people, we experience grief differently. And we make meaning of all of it differently and

more brilliantly and more beautiful.

K – Oh, I was just gonna say I think that’s all rooted in the fact that mad people experience time


A – Yeah.

K – And not just the concept of time. But this experience is a timeline. At least that’s how I feel,

right? Like that, this is a timeline, that is happening. And, you know, you can relate this back to

quantum physics and the cats in the box. I feel like this applies in like how we show up and care

for others. Like the cats in the box, a lot of people know there’s two cats in the box, right? You

know, the cat is both dead and alive. And before you open the box, both exist. It’s when you

open it that the choice is made. And, like, the second half of the theory is that when you open

the box, you split into two – two timelines happen. Because if both exists, then when the box

opens, they both have to be there. And if there’s only one of you, and there’s two of them, then

you now become two. So like I think about that, in all these acts and all of these feelings, and

especially on suicidality as a spectrum, living in the multiverse, I’ve already died hundreds of

times. Because both exist, both choices exist. So it really does feel like this liminal space, where

the dance with death is (is) that remembering of a memory that feels like a ghost, that you’re

constantly dancing with. At least that’s how it feels with me. I really connect back to the liminal

space, you know, and I like bringing it back that. I was thinking about the Matrix and glitching10

right because the fourth Matrix is coming out. I don’t know how you feel about the Matrix trilogy,

but I really loved them.

A – Love it!

K – Yeah. Okay, cool. So, you know, it’s (it’s) this really beautiful dance with death and

technology, but constantly being alive. And (and) how are we alive? You know, and recognizing

that we do live digitally. So it’s (it’s) very good.

A – So this brings up the concept of identity again. For me the thing about the internet that’s so

beautiful is this ability to try on different selves, and Legacy talks about that. Of course

capitalism has to insert itself and try to force us to be one consistent self, even in a digital

space, right? Take Facebook for instance – Facebook wants you to be one person, one self, and

then you build on that one identity.

K – One real person! Right? Right. Like in that meatspace , sort of realm, right? It has to be tied

to your Away From Keyboard state of being, where you like – really what?


A – You have to plug in a phone number to verify that you’re fucking real and —


A – and like, plug in your data points through demographic information – all so that we’ll fit nicely

into data aggregators just so they can turn around and sell us more shit. I just want to exist and

interact and be in my Madness and be able to scrap it and start over when it doesn’t fit me

anymore. Do you remember LiveJournal?

K – Oh yeah.

A – I had like half a dozen different livejournals and they’ve since been all deleted because I’m

super fucking paranoid. I go back and I delete them. I’m very resistant of having to commit to

one identity. I’m a fucking person with Borderline Personality Disorder, one of the characteristics

— the diagnostic criteria in this case is very true for me — one of the diagnostic criteria is

unstable self image. And, as far as the DSM is concerned, that part of my experience is

considered something negative. But not for me. I just change who I am when it doesn’t feel right

anymore. I’m one person one day, and I’m comfortable in that identity, as long as it feels

authentic, and when it doesn’t anymore, I want to shed that skin and figure out what fits next.

What makes me want to die is living in a space, in an identity that doesn’t fucking fit. It’s like

wearing the wrong size shoes.

K – Like I mean, look, if you look at the natural world, insects literally will molt their entire

exoskeleton and leave it behind. It looks great. It looks right. And if they couldn’t molt, they

probably would not exist. They probably would die off, if it’s necessary for their existence, but

they’re not pathologized in a negative way. It’s like “Oh, that’s just their behavior.”

A – Crabs do the same shit. They fucking leave their shells and go find another shell that fits

better. This idea that we have to stay static is absolutely 100% fucking false. For instance, we

talk about things like medications. To preface, I’m not anti-psychiatry. I believe that people

should have access to the things that make their lives less fucking miserable. And that’s great. I

also firmly resist this idea that we have to be the same fucking person and the same way every

goddamn day. For me, this is not realistic. I know I’m not the only one.


K – Like, it’s not real for us. We are on the same team.

A – Trying to take a medication that makes me the same every day, when every part of me is

like, “No, not today, today feels different than yesterday,” that makes me want to die. So I fight

against that. So I’m a Mad person. I’m okay with being Mad. But I wish it wasn’t so painful.

K – Yeah. I mean, it’s a reclamation process, really. Because words can be so easily

weaponized, in this really insidious sort of way. And, you know, when I (when I) I tried to be

super intentional with language. I’m not always not perfect at it, but like I try because words are

really important. Words impact our body. They’re part of this feedback mechanism to the

bodymind, right? Like neurologically, we are also linguistically connected. Language is the

creation of the mind, but it affects the nervous system, right? It’s this cyclic existence. These

words — they’re super important. And like, identifying as Mad, you know, I was reading

something on the internet that kind of echoed a sentiment that I have of why Mad is for me. It’s

the umbrella experience of all these other experiences, because everything else is so

stigmatized and so pathologized. Words are so important because the words that are forced

upon us can become embodied. They become our thoughts. They become – they live in my

skin. So like, really identifying Mad care work as this like, radical glitch is a practice. It starts with

our language, how we refer to ourselves, how we refer to each other, and like, language is

dynamic. Sanism wants it to be static, but it’s not. And I don’t know where I was going with this,

but I felt like it was connected to what you were saying.

A – Yeah, I mean, it is.

K – Also I will say, I am a Mad person, and I’ve been saying this to other other friends who are

Mad, to embrace that word salad nature. Sometimes I’m not going to fucking get through the

litmus test of coherence. I might not totally make sense in conversation.

A – I actually had an experience today talking to somebody that I love with my whole heart. And

they took me to task for getting frustrated with them, because I was misunderstanding what they

were saying.


K – Yup, that happens.

A – And they called me out on on my ableism. I’m not perfect. There are moments where I fall

into these ableist pits, where I want things to be presented to me in a way that’s considered, you

know, sane or neurotypical, I guess.


A – I’m not too proud to admit it. I’m still learning always. Thank you to this beautiful friend who

called me in and checked me. It was a heated exchange. But I thank you for bringing this up

because this sort of reinforces this interaction I had earlier. I think holding space for each other,

as Mad people, is so essential so we can find meaning and make sense of the word salad.


K – I mean, caring for each other is having the grace for the word salad and like the glitch is (is)

also accepting that there might be confusion. Like, ‘What the fuck did I just say? Or like, ‘What

the fuck did that other person just say? Just to say like, “I care about you enough to be okay that

sometimes I don’t know.” And it’s okay.


K – I don’t know. I don’t know.


A – Oh, that’s so brilliant. I cannot wait to reach out to them and tell them our heated discussion

came back full circle.


A – I love that the universe just checked me twice today about this. Anyway, you’re right. Talking

about language being neurological and thinking of the children’s rhyme, what is it? “Sticks and

stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me” – that’s the biggest motherfucking lie.

I also think of people that get irritated hearing the word moist and it’s just like, yeah, that’s

because words are powerful. That’s why visceral response because words are fucking powerful.

K – Side note, I learned a new word that I immediately hated as soon as I heard it. A – Oh my


K – It is portmanteau. So it’s a combination of two words. Shacket.


A – Jacket, like a shirt. Shacket.

K – My partner said it like five times in a row. I was like, “I really would appreciate it if you never

said that word again.”


A – Here we are cementing it into the ether, and I also don’t like that word. So I’m in agreement

with you all.


A – Mm hmm. I don’t know. This existence is wild. And just so intense and fleeting and futile. I

don’t know why – it’s all the things.

K – You know, it is. I think connecting these two existences together, this dystopian satire and

this dystopian absurdness of it. And (and) I feel like it’s very easy to see the dystopian nature of

it. I think it is equally important to observe and witness the absurd nature of it, right? Because

sometimes chaos doesn’t make sense. And like, it produces really strange experiences and

collisions, historically, culturally, and personally. I don’t know if I said this to you recently, but like

to me, grief and joy exist right next to each other. Grief is a state that you can feel a bunch of

things and it can be a bunch of things. These states can express how you are being, like joyfully

sad, joyfully angry, or even joyfully rageful. And those two states circling each other – grief and

joy – is madness. Everything exists in that. And sometimes joy is like this humorous satire of

absurdity and you’re like “What the fuck?” And you’re laughing, right? Like, it’s so horrific, and

you’re laughing. I know that laughter sometimes can be a trauma response, but I don’t think that

dark humor is a trauma response. I think that it is (it is) necessary to existing — walking that

liminal space of surviving and thriving because I feel like there’s an overlap, right? It’s not

necessarily go from surviving to thriving sometimes you’re both and (and) that feels like a really

radical state to be in because it’s very uncomfortable. Because you’re like impossibly both.

A – I will say that when I find myself in challenging situations, one of the things that I try to do is

remind myself that multiple things can be true at once. And I feel like 99% of Madness is like,

holding the fact that multiple things can be true at the same time and explaining that to people

around me.

K – Yep. Yep. I sum this up by saying “All time is happening at all times.” So like, all versions are

happening at the same time. And, you know, it’s like, is that it? That’s being like a liminal doula.

Just like being, we exist in the transition — in the space that everybody’s trying to get out of!

Like, we’re here. This is where we live! I don’t mind it, though. You know, it’s like (like) all the

best people are here.

A – Yeah. Oh, goodness. What a strange time to exist. I mean, I’m sure if I had existed 1000

years ago, I would probably be saying the same thing. But I do think that time and space, right

now, seem to speed up and slow down and collapse and expand. And we’re just walking

through and trying to make sense of it.

K – Yeah.

A – And care for each other in the process.

K – With (with) like (like) everything you just described. Trying to (to) care about each other, the

land, space, animals, plants, and fungi, rightly, you naturally have to hold multiple timelines.

Because all of the things are existing in different timelines. Every single person you engage

with, Away From Keyboard or digitally, they’re in a different timeline. My partner lovingly says,

“Everybody’s playing their own video game, and they’re all different. They all have different

roles, different side adventures, all this stuff.” So we’re all just trying to interact. I think holding

the understanding of things from the multiversal, like the multiverse, not just universal, is really

where I see care work rooted in. Because you have to be. Like, every situation is different. So, if

every situation is different, what are the (what are the) frameworks? It has to be an embodied

experience. This circles back to glitching being an embodied experience. If every situation is

different, what matters is how you show up.

A – In talking about grief and fear, one of my more intense experiences is with paranoia. I

believe my paranoia is protective. But also, you know, grief shows up in that, especially as it

relates to climate chaos. Grief and paranoia often intersect for me. I have another wonderful

friend who is a writer, and they write about anarchy and they write about ecology. When I am

reading about what’s happening with the environment, with the climate and the earth, there are

times when I’m breathless with grief and fear. I’m scared and I’m sad. I feel a desperation

because we have fucked things up beyond repair. This friend of mine who writes really helps me

reframe what’s happening by saying, “It’s okay. The Earth will survive and heal itself.” It’s a shift

in perspective by acknowledging that we are wiping ourselves out, but the earth? The earth will

be okay. At first, this is a hard pill to swallow. But then after I think about it, I’m actually

comforted by it. For me, it really is comforting to know, this bigger thing, this bigger, beautiful,

more powerful thing that we have managed to fuck up, will actually be okay. It will heal and it will

survive. We’re the ones that will not survive, and I’m okay with that. It’s intense. And also, I’m

comforted by it. And maybe, you know, maybe it’s my chronic suicidality that allows me to find

comfort in the fact that we will just we’ll destroy ourselves and fade away. But that the earth will

will live on beyond humanity.

K – Oh, yeah. I mean, to circle back to (hold) holding multiple timelines, I think there is (there is)

relief in the non-static, the dynamic nature of the planet, the rock in this universe, that we’re

flying through the universe on — that it will survive. It is (it is) larger than we are, which is just a

presence on it. So, to hold the (the) subsequent parallel intersecting, overlaying timeline that

we’re still here, and I’m gonna fight like hell. To make sure that, even though violence and harm

has been caused and is cycling exponentially through climate chaos, that I want to (I want to)

hold spaces for joy, grief, and, while we’re here, hope. Like Mariame Kaba says “Hope is a

discipline.” And I’ve never really liked the concept of hope, if I’m honest. I always had a really

strange relationship with hope to fear; they felt like two sides of the same coin. I had to learn

how to have a better relationship with fear, and I actually did that through watching horror

movies. Like, intentionally building a relationship with fear, that allowed me to feel safe to feel

fear through the horror film lens. But I always (I always) really gravitated towards faith, like a

non-religious belief in faith, mainly in math and nature. I recognized that I could try to build a

new relationship with hope, as a discipline, in a world that was fucking hopeless. Right? Liminal

spaces. That’s like the ultimate liminal space – holding both feelings like we’re fucking hopeless,

and I still got hope. I don’t know what I have hope for. But, you know, I often don’t fully know if

it’s actually hopeless, and both can be true. That is (that is) the beauty of madness. There’s

usually a third option, right? Like, I feel it’s never just binary, hopeless and hope. There’s like

multiple options.

A – I personally struggle with hope.

K – I apologize.

A – I just mean that like, I think hope is sort of pre packaged by capitalism.

K – Oh, yeah. Yeah.

A – It is irritating to me.

K – Yeah, totally.

A – I think “hope” shows up in Madness differently. And I wish we had a different word for it. It

feels different for me. I think my irritation comes from the fact that I don’t experience it the way I

feel like I’m supposed to. I already feel like such an outsider that when other people talk about

hope, I’m just like, “well, I don’t fucking feel that.” It’s not that I don’t believe hope is real. It’s just

that I struggle with it. Faith and hope are powerful things and I am envious of people that feel

them so intensely and passionately. I think it makes me feel alone to not experience that thing

that collectively others do.

K – This is kind of in alignment with what you’re talking about, struggling with concepts that

sometimes people will throw judgment that you struggle with, right? There’s like weird stigmas,

inherent stigmas placed on connection or hypo/hyper-sensitivity to certain experiences. But like

I struggle with empathy, a lot, and it was just a concept. Like, I fully embody compassion, and I

see empathy as a connecting space from sympathy to compassion. That some people kind of

exist in the space of empathy because it transitions into a lot of the same things as compassion.

This is how I see it, in like my brain, but I don’t understand empathy. Like once, when I started to

investigate the experience of empathy, I was like that’s not something I experience. I realized

that when I was very young, but I always had a deep sense of compassion, and a deep sense of

like, hypersensitivity to injustice, based on compassion. Yet, expressing that you struggle with a

concept that a lot of people put a lot of moral fortitude on, right? Similar to hope and faith.

People do that with empathy. There’s plenty of people that experience extreme states where

they have zero access to empathy, and it doesn’t necessarily impact how they exist in the world

with their values and how they engage with care. It’s really something I think about.

A – It’s really interesting that you bring up empathy, particularly because the psychiatric industrial

complex would have those who are perceived to not experience empathy labeled with

personality disorders. I believe this pervasive myth is wildly inaccurate. Harmful, even. We feel


K – Like, yeah.

A – And also, fuck that.

K – Yep. I was like, I am just fucked. I can’t even show up as who I am in relation to other people

so like how am I going to imagine that I can show up and care, like actually provide, you know,

be of service in access intimacy and all these different things. So it’s like finding grace right off

the bat that (that) this really judgmental, stigmatized thing – not having access to empathy –

actually, like allowed me to fully embody compassion. Because I had to. You know, you talk

about paranoia, right, as a sacred state and some reclamation, not of just words, but

experiences that reframe them wholeheartedly. From the embodied state of knowing it’s different

than what others say it is. And I want other people to have that body autonomy to experience

their experiences, how they experience them.

A – So as you’re talking, I’m thinking about what you also said about how language really fucking

matters. And like, the language of labeling, especially, like diagnostically labeling multiple

personality disorder/dissociative identity disorder and borderline personality disorder. Like, what

does that even mean? Susanna Kaysen says it Girl Interrupted, “On the borderline of what? The

borderline between what and what?”


K – So like do you know why they call it borderline?

A – No!

K – Okay, so okay, this is an interesting piece of linguistic Mad history.

A – Are you about blow my mind right now? Oh, my God.

K – Yeah. So they call it borderline because they gave it as a diagnostic label to individuals who

were on the border between neuroses and [psychosis – edited for correction].

A – So I’m both because two things can be true at once.

K – It was really like, oh, you you’re separating them? They’re actually the same thing. This is a

multidimensional map.


A – Mad people contain multitudes. It’s too bad that sane people can only be one thing at a

time. I pity them.

K – I mean, I feel that way, too. Something interesting you said is so accurate, like borderline is

postulating that you’re in between, right? It’s like you skirt the edge of both. You’re, you know,

sometimes this and sometimes that, but actually you aren’t. It’s not either; it’s both. It feels very

much like this softness to reclaim it. And this is not to ignore or divert from the fact that,

sometimes, extreme states like psychosis can be very distressing. That was just me, like

hypothesizing about it.

A – No, I love that. I love it. I’m just taking it all in. And I know that we’ve moved through all these

different topics. This might feel very incoherent to others. But I’m really appreciating being in this

space with you right now.

K – I feel like honestly, a lot of what we talked about, is this future-visioning futurist (futurist) idea

of madness and Mad care work in the digital realm, especially around glitching. I think our

conversation was exactly what it was supposed to be.

A – One thing I want to do is honor the young people. I think there are aspects of youth and

childhood that are arguably more complicated and painful and messy for young people today,

than when, when we were young people. And, you know, if there were ever a thing to have hope

and faith in, it is young people who, because of digital spaces out here in their shameless

authenticity. They are, in many ways, more compassionate. Young people have such an ugly,

treacherous road ahead for them. I’m not a parent, and I don’t want to be, but I am committed to

using my rage to fight so that young people have a fucking world to exist in that’s less painful

than the world that we exist in now.


Short Bios

K (kitty) is Mad, autistic, + multiple, with echolalia (echo), existing as a femme creature that is white, disabled, neuroqueer, & trans/non-binary.

A is a Mad, disabled, suicidal, care-working femme.


1. Care Work: Dreaming in Disability Justice by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, published

by Arsenal Pulp Press in 2018.

2. Toni Morrison writes about ‘rememory’ in her book, Beloved. “I was talking about time. It’s so

hard for me to believe in it. Some things go. Pass on. Some things just stay. I used to think it

was my rememory. You know. Some things you forget. Other things you never do. But it’s not.

Places, places are still there. If a house burns down, it’s gone, but the place—the picture of

it—stays, and not just in my rememory, but out there, in the world. What I remember is a picture

floating around out there outside my head. I mean, even if I don’t think it, even if I die, the

picture of what I did, or knew, or saw is still out there. Right in the place where it happened.” —

Toni Morrison, Beloved.

3. Toni Morrison did create the word and concept of ‘rememory’ for her book, Beloved.

4. Quote from “Two or Three Things I Know for Sure about Femmes and Suicide: A Love

Letter”, Care Work: Dreaming in Disability Justice by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha.

5. Quote from “Two or Three Things I Know for Sure about Femmes and Suicide: A Love

Letter”, Care Work: Dreaming in Disability Justice by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha.

6. Quote from “Two or Three Things I Know for Sure about Femmes and Suicide: A Love

Letter”, Care Work: Dreaming in Disability Justice by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha.

7. Glitch Feminism by Legacy Russell, published by Verso Books in 2020.

8. Away From Keyboard is a phrase and concept created by Legacy Russell in Glitch Feminism.

This concept reframes non-digital experiences in a technological world.

9. Quote from Glitch Feminism by Legacy Russell.

10. Legacy Russell writes about the glitch as a “nonperformance” and “a form of refusal.”

Legacy also writes that glitch feminism is a “refus[al] to be sewn to the hegemonic line of a

binary body” while also “demand[ing] an occupation of the digital as a means of world-building.”

K uses the word ‘glitching’ to mean the active state of being the glitch in glitch feminism, as

Legacy Russell writes about it. Quotes from “Introduction”, Glitch Feminism by Legacy Russell.

11. Saved by the bell hooks, Instagram account link

12. Quote from bell hooks in a piece written in The New York Times, published in 2015. bell

hooks passed away on December 15, 2021, and this memorial article includes the full quote

from NYT, found here:

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