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Everything We Don’t Know About Ableism It's Just Nerves by Kelly Davio

When I was offered the chance to review this nonfiction collection about disability, I just couldn’t say no. Bring on these topics. I gotta make dialogue about this.

And I was not wrong to accept. It’s Just Nerves is a very short and sobering experience. It’s not my first time reading #ownvoices disability texts, but as every time, there is always something new. So why should you read this?

I think It’s Just Nerves should be read by all – healthy or disabled, #spoonie or not. And especially if you’re just a regular person who pretty much goes to the clinic only for sprained ankles or a bad cold. Because there’s this sad thing that happens to regular people like us – to people who have never experienced being incapacitated, frail, exhausted – and that thing is called ableism.

Most of the time, we don’t know ableism even exists. This is true for most of us. We have our own problems. And surely enough, our problems are always misjudged, always disregarded. We are the center of our world. Which is why we often do, excuse my language, bad shit, for example, make a disabled person move over to we could sit down with our kid (actual quoted occurrence from the book.) Or we call out a person who ‘looked at us weird’ although they literally can’t move their face into a different configuration cause they are partly paralyzed. We judge someone as being lazy for wearing ‘sloppy clothes’, not considering that maybe it costs them so much to even put those on. And these are just small examples – ableism manifests in little things, such as even thinking ‘oh, that person should just go on a diet already’ or even ‘I can also pretend I have a headache’. All you who have never done this, raise your hand? Point made.

I want to personally apologize to all those people who have suffered slander, pain or even mere inconvenience on our part – from us as the society of healthy people (although I sometimes lean towards a spoonie myself, but that’s beside the point). I will always try to help and understand, and yet, I will not hesitate to apologize for the rest of us who don’t. Because if I started a conversation about what’s wrong with this society, I could go on for days – it’s not even about the lack of comfort, understanding or convenient facilities we’re talking about. It’s the fact that our society views a disabled or chronically ill person as a lesser being – denying the fact that it might be their identity. That they might want to be accepted for who they are – without having to be ‘exorcised’ first. That our ‘mindfulness’ will never become true soulfulness until we start looking outwards instead of inwards.

And this is why you read this book. It’s shocking. It’s tough. It might be political. It will be rough. But it’s time to stop shielding yourself from your comfortable reality – come out and face the facts. Stop the hate. Learn more about your neighbour.

One more thing – I apologize if I have used language anyone who’s ill or disabled might find offensive. If you feel like I did, please notify me. Anything like that would be coming from ignorance rather than a wish to discriminate or hurt you.

Content warnings: sickness, pain, hospital experience, trauma, religious fanaticism, political intricacies, human pettiness. Yes, you need to read about all of this.

About the Author:

Kelly Davio is the author of Burn This House and the forthcoming The Book of the Unreal Woman. She is the founding editor of Tahoma Literary Review and the former Managing Editor of The Los Angeles Review. Her work has appeared in Best New Poets, Verse Daily, The Rumpus, and many others. She earned her MFA in poetry from Northwest Institute of Literary Arts. Today, she works as a medical editor in New Jersey.

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