So Hormonal – essay 4 from the anthology

Short posts on each of the essays from So Hormonal – A Collection of Essays on Hormones published by Monstrous Regiment, Edinburgh. Edited by Emily Horgan and Zachary Dickson with a foreword by Karen Havelin.

The Self-Made Body, personal growth and steroids by Michael Collins

This honest and touching essay is about steroid use for bodybuilding, and such a description does not usually match that type of topic. Michael Collins is right, I had a critical preconception about this subject, far away as it is from my own way of thinking. I knew nothing about the subject and hadn’t bothered to find out, nor do I know anyone who bodybuilds in this way. Once again (this was the case with The Waiting Room by Hidden Ink Child) I do have some idea now, and am grateful that my outlook has expanded a little, and my understanding with it.

In his essay, Collins is saying, ‘This is me!’, and he goes to the trouble of explaining, in detail, why and how he takes steroids even though it is dangerous to do so. It is interesting in that ‘Oh… really?…oh!’ sort of a way – sometimes I winced and sometimes I was surprised. I was also convinced. The writing has an ease about it (having read a few of these essays now, I would suggest that is the mark of the editors), and there’s nothing extraneous. What there is, as I read on, is a plea, for people – his family and loved ones especially – to hear and accept him. I think we all of us want that, and so I finished this essay feeling compassion and a sense of shared humanity.

It really is a very important thing that Monstrous Regiment have done here – to give a voice to these authors. Though they may have one in various specialist sectors of social media, they have probably not come onto paper before in quite this way. Publishing these writers one at a time would have been impressive, but to gather them together into this one volume increases the power of, and validtaes what they are saying. Of course, these folk should be, are, valid in their own right, but as so many are in fact marginalised, it is a great service that this very small and young publishing company have done for them.

So Hormonal was fully paid for by Crowd Funding, so all praise must also go to those individuals who liked the idea enough to put their private money behind it, even during a time of pandemic when so many are struggling without work and pay.

Available from The Portobello Bookshop and Lighthouse