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Editorial Issue 1 – Pain, Pea-Sized or Not…  

by Joyline ‘Jo’ Maenzanise
20 February 2023


The state of being free from illness or injury 

A person’s mental or physical condition.

Through fiction and non-fiction, poetry and prose, writers have produced work that speaks to what health means to them and to us, individually and collectively. Given how COVID-19 showed vulnerabilities in our health systems and wrecked our lives in ways that affected us spiritually, mentally, financially and physically, there couldn’t have been a more fitting theme from this adda Call for Submissions. Reading the pieces was a journey that stimulated my senses and moved my spirit.  

‘Ijeoma’ highlights one of the ways the virus upended our lives, as loved ones succumbed to it. One of the most painful parts about death during the pandemic was how it changed the way we mourned and sent off those who had passed on. Indeed, ‘death is cruel.’ More so during a pandemic.  

Also set during this precarious time is ‘Vagina Diaries’. The author writes about her pain being dismissed, diminished or disbelieved by an institution which is supposed to care. An important lesson here is that everybody’s pain—‘pea-sized’ or not—should be taken seriously and appropriately treated.  

Pain dismissal doesn’t occur exclusively in our healthcare system, as ‘A Familiar Disquiet’ shows us that this also happens in our families. The author recounts the protagonist’s experience with an unnamed—or undiagnosed—illness, a ‘heavy lassitude’ which is downplayed by the parents as ‘good old-fashioned laziness’. I know I’m not the only one who will relate to this experience.  

Pain, pea-sized or not, diagnosed or not, strains our bodies. When we experience it, we seek remedies to manage or eliminate it. We take pain medication. We go for therapy. We turn to the healing powers of nature.  

‘The Long Way Home’ and ‘Small Town Sanity’ speak to ‘connecting with the whenua (land) as a source of healing or well-being’. The latter further highlights how our well-being requires an alignment of our physical, emotional, spiritual and social well-being. As someone who continues to work on healing from their trauma and replacing toxic coping mechanisms with healthy habits, I appreciated the vulnerability shown by the author. She understood that promoting social change—in this case, community healing—requires an ongoing commitment to individual healing. 

Lastly, ‘The Story of a Wounded Healer’ takes us to the world of doctors who often serve patients even as they experience their own health challenges. The story highlights how the lack of institutional support physically and mentally impacts those committed to improving others’ well-being. It is a sobering reminder of the need for health systems and society to value our healers. 

Poetry lovers will be pleased to know that this issue comes with three poems: ‘needlework’ refers to relinquishing some power to medical professionals in pursuit of healing. ‘Bougainvillea Boy’ is about one person’s experience with their body and queerness. ‘Mama Graon: What Have We Done?’ depicts pain and struggle through a conversation with the physical landscape and was written as a ‘response to the Tonga volcano eruption and reaction from the Vanuatu volcanoes’. 

Thank you to my co-editors, Kevin Mwachiro and Dr. Roopa Farooki, for editing some of the pieces in this issue. Thank you to the adda team for providing creative writers a home for their sacred words.  

As the new year progresses, I hope that, in all we do for ourselves and others, we’re driven by these questions: What does a healthy community look like, and what must we do—individually and collectively—to realise that? 

In all your pursuits, remember to rest. 

About the Author

Joyline ‘Jo’ Maenzanise

Joyline ‘Jo’ Maenzanise is trans nonbinary. Their words have found homes in publications such as Hedone, HOLAAfrica, Adventures From the Bedrooms of African Women, Pink News, Healthline, Well+Good, Broadview, Verywell Mind and Kickoff (an online fitness coach). Jo also edits fiction and non-fiction. Some works they’ve edited include children’s and adults’ novels, cover letters, personal statements […]