Reasons Why Empire of Storms Ended My Sarah J. Maas Binge 


I want to preface this essay with a series of disclaimers. First, this is a reaction to Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. My thoughts do not reflect any negative associations with fans of her work. In fact, most of my interactions with fans of the series resulted in clever, insightful dialogue. The takeaway point I am communicating is that I am not continuing with Maas’ work for my own preferences’ sake.

Brief Introduction

Sarah J. Maas has risen to fame through her fae-heavy series Throne of Glass as well as the more steamy A Court of Thorns and Roses. As someone who is easily squeaked by graphic sex scenes, I avoided her work just to be safe. However, in January and February, I decided to delve into her young adult series titled Throne of Glass.
Throne of Glass (or ToG as it is referred to on Tumblr) is about a young assassin who is placed in a tournament as the king’s champion. What happened next amazed me, even after at least six years of reading young adult exclusively.

Stylistic choice: Tone

As the series progressed, a certain tonal shift became apparent. Most fantasy series avoid the usage of modern terms or slang in their dialogue to separate the work from our world. There was a lot of cursing in general in these books. With each curse word, I was kicked out of this seemingly magical world with fairies and magic and knocked back into our world that does not include either of these fantastical features. In fact, I found myself unable to remain connected to most of the stories, even though they were quick reads.

Relationship portrayal

 Relationships were another inconsistent feature of this series. When the books begin, we are faced with the traditional love triangle. There is Dorian, our young prince. His best friend Chaol, aloof and mysterious, is the other part of this typical young adult novel dilemma. Listen, I would have been happy with either partner for Celaena, our main character (who has many names, by the way. But, more on that later). Yet, by the fourth book, Queen of Shadow, another person appears to join the ever-growing number of men who are attracted to our main character. She had a previous love interest prior to the novels’ beginnings, then there was a handler-type of a figure who fancies her, Dorian, Chaol, and now Rowan.

Reader-Character (Dis)Connect

There were rare occasions to connect with Celaena. She likes cake, pastries, and dogs. There was a particular scene where she gets her period, and, even then, I was unable to find similarities between us. She is good at everything. A fire-wielding assassin with the tendency to do a lot of shit-talking seventeen-year-old is hard to connect to, I find. I remember Rose Hathaway from Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series being similar, but she still had a hard time rising among the ranks of the school in that series.
Part of the charm of YA is this reflection of characteristics in fantastical settings. It’s nice to see an awkward person do great things, for instance, like, say Percy Jackson. Here, though, Celaena is too many things. By the time I got to Empire of Storms, she was a lover and a queen-to-be. She was a warrior, a dog owner, and a friend to almost every character thus far in the series. Even Manon, a witch focused on eliminating Celaena, ends up being on a less-than-opposing side when it comes to our main character. It’s frustrating. Someone has to dislike our main character.


Finally, I want to talk about the corny sex scenes in Empire of Storms and how they were the final nail in the proverbial coffin.  Unlike the earlier books, there were sex scenes galore in the fifth book of the series. I am all for sexual empowerment, but I do not see the point of multiple sex scenes. This is especially the case for me when these scenes are placed in awkward points of the plot. Besides, I do not like the exaggerated corny descriptions of these encounters. Why are we subjected to the “velvet steel,” I’ll never know? The over the top, mountains shook, and dramatic climaxes, all made me cringe.

Final Thoughts

In no way am I saying that reading Maas’ books a bad idea. Instead, I invite you to see my response a call to action. Maas writes incredibly fast-paced works that do not feel forced in any way. There is a charm to her writing, and I like the rich history of the fae in her series. However, I think we need to start discussing the portrayal of women in stories, particularly young adult ones. Furthermore, I think sexuality needs to be presented in less figurative flowery language. Again, I am all for teens reading things that help them feel understood. But, I don’t know about you, writing a character that can do it all is frustrating for the audience. Still, I enjoyed the fandom of these books, the idea of these characters doing more than what was in the text itself.
  Early in the year, I decided to plunge into various reading challenges. Namely, my
I was watching this video by the awesome CeCe, where she discussed books that would
Okay, so I tried writing this post a few times. Lots of deleting took place.

Woeful Reading Challenge Update and Modifications


Early in the year, I decided to plunge into various reading challenges. Namely, my focus was on the Beat the Back-list and the Pop Sugar Challenge. A moment of reflection every couple of months is a good way to keep me accountable and transparent. In brief terms, my reading challenge update is woeful and in need of many modifications. Let me explain further. Read on.


Out of the series that I have listed from Beat the Back List, I have read none. My main struggle is that I cannot fit in the series with many challenges. Besides, my reading has taken a huge dip in frequency and duration. This is partly because I am intimidated by slowing down and reading. Often, my manic episodes dampen my chances of sitting still at all. I get so wrapped up in the ambitious energy, the hyper drive that I experience, and the high hopes that I have. As I write this blog post, I am at the tail end of a manic episode (I hope it’s the tail end, I don’t know. It’s still hard to observe this dissonance).  I am not sure how I will be able to incorporate reading even when I am manic.

My modification is to read things that satisfy this mania. Adventures and action-packed novels sound like they would keep me from feeling that I need to do things myself. Perhaps I can displace my own energy into what the characters are doing.

challenges and libraries

As much as I love the idea of reading from the library, the Pop Sugar challenge overextended my reliance on going there. I have high anxiety around deadlines and borrowing things in general. It’s a double whammy for me, and it just isn’t worth the sleepless nights of me trying to read as fast as I can.

I like somehow bending my TBR to fit the prompts in creative and even stretched ways. There is no need for me to try to function within these rules. My goal is to read my TBR, and enjoy the books I already have.

This is what I can do right now. Read  from what I own, and fulfill the prompts however I see fit.

Back to that back list challenge

So far, I have not been able to read a single series back to back. My modification for the challenge is to read more than one series at a time to provide variety in my reading experience. I am aiming to vary my suggestions for each challenge that I do each week to avoid getting bored or overwhelmed.

Hopefully, my reading will improve with these modifications. How is your progress with your goals in mind so far? Please share any tips on how you read more off your TBR piles.

roaring nerd moment

warnings I want to preface this essay with a series of disclaimers. First, this is
I was watching this video by the awesome CeCe, where she discussed books that would
Okay, so I tried writing this post a few times. Lots of deleting took place.

The Sum of These Books

I was watching this video by the awesome CeCe, where she discussed books that would sum up her personality. As I reflected on my experiences, I have decided to share my own equation along with the missing parts of it, too.

Faith and Friends

Tahereh Mafi’s Whichwood spoke to me spiritually. As the main character wears a headscarf and is isolated because of her insecurities, I felt understood. Granted, I am not isolated because I have a huge burden on me in terms of work or legacy. I do however think that my anxiety is the reason for my difficulty in making and keeping friends.

Laylee has a strained relationship with her ancestry, which, in my case, is allegorical to the mental illness legacy within my own lineage. This book, its coldness, the colorful scarves, the friendships, all of it is just perfectly me.

The Average Queen

While working on my first personal essay, I came to this repeated notion of my average skills. Like the princesses in Kendare Blake’s Three Dark Crowns, I feel rather mediocre often especially when faced with people in my age group. Often, particularly when manic, it feels as though big things are possible for me. However, when coupled with my meek personality and anxious disposition, I realize that I’d be lucky to pass for average.

Bipolar disorder

I have a mild form of bipolar called cyclothymic disorder, which often feels like darkness and light often battling within me. I guess this is why Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl echoes to me even throughout the years.

Another character touching dynamic between Kate and August in This Savage Song. This monstrous thing lurking behind me and within me is easily manifested in this duology by Victoria Schwab, who is among my favorite authors because of her exploration of evil in various forms.

anxiety and writing

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell is pure perfection with cute fanfiction along the way. I am in no way saying that I am a talented writer like Cath. However, I did lose my spot between my siblings for a long time (even now) because of new transitions. The habit of displacing my identity through fandom is spot on. I’d much rather be someone awesome than me. I am not even looking for a Levi to love me. I am looking for a Levi to befriend, and drink warm tea, and fangirl together.

Another one is, of course, The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli, where anxiety and body image come into play. Again, not interested in romance, but this book still hit some exact notes for me.

Finally, it would not be a post about me without a John Green reference. His epic Turtles All the Way Down is my most cherished work of his at this point. It was an accurate portrayal of OCD, which is something I deal with. I am trying not to reshuffle my whole book shelves repeatedly as I write this. My own OCD manifests very differently from Aza, the main character in this book. It still functions the same: obsessive thoughts and a compelling act that is almost a sacred ritual.

Your Turn:

What are the books that encompass parts of who you are? Do we share any books in common? Holler in the comments. See you there.




warnings I want to preface this essay with a series of disclaimers. First, this is
  Early in the year, I decided to plunge into various reading challenges. Namely, my
Okay, so I tried writing this post a few times. Lots of deleting took place.

Intersectionality and The Process of Including Minorities in Narratives

Okay, so I tried writing this post a few times. Lots of deleting took place. Needless to say, it sounds like it’s something I’m genuinely afraid of. Therefore, let’s talk about my journey with understanding intersectionality and the inclusion of minorities to narratives.

Introduction to Intersectionality

This is a sad thing, but I didn’t really find out about intersectionality until perhaps the final days as part of academia. Before then, I was feeling like the only person who somehow intersected between various communities. I was listening to a lot of John Green and Hank Green videos, and they mentioned Rosianna, who makes incredible videos that I love to this day. (I’m particularly fond of her Backburner series). Hannah Witton, Leena Norms, Marina Shut Up  became some of the people who are constant in my life, even now, as influences.

I was pretty unaware of the term itself, though, until a year or two ago, when I watched this video by Akilah Obviously. 

My Relationship with Intersectionality

I’ll admit it: I get scared of messing up somehow. For instance, I haven’t been able to write a single novel since I started listening to more critique of fiction. This is not me blaming anyone. It’s mostly because I have experienced frustration when it comes to being excluded from narratives.

For me, the usual dialogue centered on white straight and able-bodied people. I mean, I think back on Faulkner and how haunting it was to read about disabled people mis-represented (to put it lightly).  How about that horrid Mice and Men?  Let’s not talk about My Antonia and Othello. Even Wuthering Heights which was among my favorites once upon a time, had intensely problematic approaches to race.

My experience was of extreme exhaustion when it came to traditional (academic) discussions of fiction, because they were almost always exclusive to those who have extreme privilege.  Everyone else was demonized and vilified.

Because of this, I am afraid of offending someone, of leaving someone out. I know that I’ll always work to be more inclusive and welcoming.

However, I do want to say that this is a process, and it is very subjective in certain cases. For me, I’m mostly aiming to use #ownvoices to help determine if a certain work was problematic.

 Moving Forward

Like I said, my journey as an intersectional feminist is one where self-discovery (as a disabled asexual aromantic person of color who is Muslim). But, really, it’s about finding my place in the conversation. Even more importantly, it is dependent also on remembering when to shut up and raise other voices instead.

Your Turn:

What is your relationship with intersectionality and inclusivity (it’s a word if I say so, laptop!)? Are there certain resources you use to find #ownvoices reviews of fictional work and media? Please share it with me! I am always trying to be more supportive of other minorities.


warnings I want to preface this essay with a series of disclaimers. First, this is
  Early in the year, I decided to plunge into various reading challenges. Namely, my
I was watching this video by the awesome CeCe, where she discussed books that would

Discussion: Blogging with Mental Illness

This is the PITS. I have been having a rough time for at least three months. Today, I decided to share my experience with blogging as someone who has mental illness. As such, I am considering making a change in how I approach this. I guess I’m gesturing at this site. Some of this discussion may resonate with you, I hope. But, some of it won’t. I hope you just…listen.

Let’s begin.

Routine Rush

When I joined the book blogging community a year ago, I noticed that there are certain types of posts that people shared. Lists. Lots of lists. My problem is not so much that the lists were “bad.” But, they did not work for me, because I am not reading as rapidly as some people in the community do. This results in me listing the same books, week after week. And, after a while, it just gets less fun.

Instead, it feels like a routine (not in a nice way). I don’t read as much as others, and I am pressuring myself even more to keep up.

Not only was it just a series of lists for books, but I also fell into a trap where I had created these “sections” of my blog to streamline navigation. Like, it’s a blog. Not a map. The fun of it, to me, is to see a life unfold, to enjoy fan-girl moments and analysis, and enthusiasm.

Consistency Woes

This was another issue I had with the blog. I pressured myself to post every day of the week, for weeks at a time. Nothing I’m saying is ground-breaking news. I’m sure people can live without my lists for a day or two per week.

Maybe even more.

I have to be careful not to turn this into something my OCD will flip against me (that sentence failed on so many levels).

Running Away

I don’t like talking about how sick I am on here for fear of sounding “out of it.” But, as someone who has had depersonalization all her life, I have a hard time being “present.” For the past five years, I have been in therapy. Granted, it took me a long time to open up about this (and the manic episodes were pretty embarrassing too).  It’s scary to be here mentally and I honestly don’t know how I always just…stop being myself and pray that if I dream of someone else, I could somehow become them.

Does this make any sense?

Anyway, blogging shouldn’t be all that I do. Neither does reading sound like something I want to throw my whole life into. I want to see what makes me feel at peace. In order to do that, I need to step away from following this dance of posting, commenting, and then depersonalize my way through the day, hoping to become a different person.

Maybe I can write about my findings, or try to capture my moments of clarity.

I don’t know. But I am definitely in need of learning new things to become a more comfortable person.

And the search continues

What is ahead is lots of soul searching and experimenting with what works for me as a blogger. My intention is not to insult anyone who is okay with the routine posts, or the reading all the time. It just isn’t working for me. We’ll see what I find worth discussing on here between the books I do manage to finish.

Love and light.



warnings I want to preface this essay with a series of disclaimers. First, this is
  Early in the year, I decided to plunge into various reading challenges. Namely, my
I was watching this video by the awesome CeCe, where she discussed books that would

Paper Towns and the Middle Aged Dilemma









When I had initially read Paper Towns, I was in my early twenties. At the time, I was more moved by John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. But, as I near the middle aged years, I realize that perhaps Paper Towns is more relevant to me now.

Happy Now

I understand that many people dislike Margo, but the older I get, the stronger the connection gets between us. You see, I was more of a Q growing up. Driven, ambitious, and academically inclined, I barreled through life–furiously trying to prove my worth to an unforgiving crowd.

I tried to be good at my job. I pushed harder than ever to be present, to do my work, to not take breaks. Sometimes, I’d stay awake for days just to grade and reply to emails. The biggest surprise was my failure. Even when I check reviews of my teaching, years later, I see what very few people noticed: I was doing things for the wrong reasons. When my breakdown and subsequent hospitalization happened, I started to realize that I was in the wrong group. I was in the wrong field.

Odd Ducks

A couple of weekends ago, I had an obsessive episode, where I had to look up old classmates. Most of them were teaching in universities. A lot of them were friends on social media.

At first, I felt sorrow. But, then I realized that I had never made any connections with people. I was the weirdest teacher to ever grace a campus. First, it was because of my emotional nature. I cried about my failures all the time (there were many failures. No one talked about their struggles).

In retrospect, this reminds me of the idea of Paper Towns. This is the images we mark on maps for authenticity. Maybe adulthood and success were at different spots in maps. I am recognizing my own path. Like Margo, I get to redefine myself while others are locked in their paper towns and paper lives, paper relationships. And, I am careful not to say it in a judgmental way. Some people like being hamsters on a treadmill–an eyes on the prize mentality driving them.

I don’t.

“Isn’t there something that can make you happy now?”

Her Story to tell

And, I think this ties back to the Fault in Our Stars, and every John Green book I have ever loved (read: all of them). It’s about leaving a legacy. But it is not about making financial gains, or some sort of tangible effect on the world necessarily. I know so many ex-classmates who will do great things. On the other hand, I recognize that I have mental illness, and it sways my perception of the world quite a bit. My priorities are different. If I have carried myself with grace and kindness, if I was brave and creative, if I was sincere in my interactions and open about my insecurities, I am happy. I am happy if I am open with God and loving His creation. And, I know not everyone agrees with my faith. So, it’s part of my mission, too, to be inclusive and loving of people no matter how different we may be.

You know, I tried expressing my own freedom for social norms by doing all kinds of weird things.  Now, I am trying to quiet down, and listen up close to what truly speaks to me deeply. That is what Margo would do.

And Gus.

And Hazel.

Even Alaska would agree.


warnings I want to preface this essay with a series of disclaimers. First, this is
  Early in the year, I decided to plunge into various reading challenges. Namely, my
I was watching this video by the awesome CeCe, where she discussed books that would

Mental Illness As a Person of Color

I have been wanting to discuss mental illness, and its complex nature, for a while now. So, I decided to give it a try. For this post, I’d like to take a look at mental illness from the perspective of a woman of color (like me).


Part of the issue that I faced early on in my illness was the lack of information. Essentially, there is no transparency when it comes to discussing these illnesses. No one talks about it at home. If anything, those who are mentally ill are presented as “scary” and “weird.”

So, I remember suppressing my depression, hiding my scars, and not sharing that I get manic episodes ever. In a way, I feel like mental illness is almost kept at arms’ length. Other people get mental illness. Not us.

Suppressing the Symptoms

I think part of the issue is that there is a lot of complications with the symptoms. You just don’t know what to look for, as a person, because there is no education in regards to these illnesses. No one at home talks about it, and no one at school talks about it. You undermine what’s going on.

Even worse is the suppressing of these symptoms. Like, I would go weeks eating normal, and then binge, then starve myself. And so on. Try as I may, I would keep trying to “grow up,” to be in control, to behave like a “normal” person. I’d be crying while manic, because I had no idea what was going on and how to stop it.


But it goes beyond this. In the middle east (In Egypt, at least), there is no school counselor. There is no doctor to refer you to a psychiatrist. You only go to a doctor when you’re sick. Even then, doctors are not trained to notice signs. Besides, patients are too scared to say anything. I never spoke about my issues to anyone while living in Egypt because I was afraid of what may be done to me. Because there is no dialogue regarding mental illness, the assumption is that the divergence in behavior simply results in exclusion.

Even if there is a psychiatrist, there is no bond of maintaining privacy. Basically, the more you talk about things with someone, the more likely you are to have a “scandal.” There is no such thing as health insurance there, so prices are way higher for psychiatrists and it is hard to maintain appointments.

To me, I felt trapped. I didn’t even know that therapy was an option until I was in grad school in California. That’s when my psychotic episodes would get me terrified to do the simplest things.


Unfortunately, because there’s very little representation (if any) in the media of brown people going to therapy, people assume that it’s a very privileged thing to do. Same thing with yoga and meditation.

Often, I get these weird reminders of my counterparts in other countries and how they suffer. The implied message being, how dare you be unhappy or uncomfortable, or downright miserable when you are lucky and privileged? 

It often extends beyond this and even more into shaming, because, “you have so much help right now. Shouldn’t you get it together already?” 


Five years of therapy and I still don’t know how to process this complicated nature of mental illness. But, I do think that we need to share dialogue: raw, honest, and open conversations regarding cultures other than the mainstream in relation to mental illness.

I don’t have any of the “answers.” In fact, I am not sure there is a right or wrong answer here.


warnings I want to preface this essay with a series of disclaimers. First, this is
  Early in the year, I decided to plunge into various reading challenges. Namely, my
I was watching this video by the awesome CeCe, where she discussed books that would

Discussion: Shame-Based Narratives and Mental Illness

It’s been a while since we have had a discussion. Have a seat. Let’s talk about the shame-based narrative that is prominent in discussions of mental illness.

The Assumption

Many people assume that if they “find out” about someone’s mental illness, they have the upper hand. I have encountered people shaming their significant others for coming from a family where mental illness is prominent.

I have also met people who shut down when I discuss my mental illnesses. Sharing how mental illness affects life, to me, is the most liberating form of expression, because mental illness drags you inwards. It makes it hard to communicate as fear of judgment collapses bridges.

It is this shaming that I want to discuss today. As people hear more about mental illness, the assumptions are that it’s a “snow flake” thing. Some people assume that is a weakness to be wired differently.

However, for the most part, the most damaging assumption I have noticed directed at people with mental illness is “get over it,” “you think you have it bad? Think of so and so,” or “you take pills, you have no excuse,” or straight up, “You have no excuse.”

Even worse, there is the assumption that mental illness means locking up the person in some psych ward for the rest of their lives. In saying things like this, the underlining message is that “normal lives” have no room for people with mental illness.

Doing this pushes people into seclusion, into staying mum about their mental illness, which simply allows the dialogue to be negative, and dishearteningly so.

But Maybe…

Maybe it’s time we view mental illness as a packaged deal. It’s not wholly negative, nor is it positive entirely. The thing to consider is that there’s nothing unequivocally good or bad. There’re elements of good and bad within every experience.

I was reading an article about a psychiatrist who was hopsitalized for six years due to her mental illness, and that this experience helped her become a more effective psychotherapist. But, the way patients talk about this past, it’s all about shame. “I know your secret.”

It’s as if having a mental illness delegitmatizes her status as a psychotherapist. But, the doctor shares that the hospitalization helped her with psychoanalysis. It helped her connect with patients.


The more we sweep mental illness under the rug, the more desperate people become to hide it. Suicide, self harm, secrecy, avoidance: these are just some of the coping mechanisms people will resort to.

No one wants to be dismissed as a professional person, as a romantic significant other, or as a friend, family member, because they’re mentally ill. And, yes, we can rephrase the word “mental illness” and say things like “Mood disorder,” sure. But, that does not remove the stigma and people haven’t stopped shaming others for being different.

Mental illness is not a death sentence. I remember way back in 2012, when I was told that I was very, very sick, I thought it’d be the end of my life. I was ashamed that I couldn’t have hidden my illnesses for much longer. Moreover, I was ashamed because I needed medication, and even with medication, things were really tough. I was ashamed of being admitted into a psych ward.

And, you know what? I think mental illness, and seeking out help, gives you a different perspective on life. To me, it’s made me more self aware and reflective. It’s the motivation for constant revamping and reshaping old habits into newer and healthier approaches to life.

warnings I want to preface this essay with a series of disclaimers. First, this is
  Early in the year, I decided to plunge into various reading challenges. Namely, my
I was watching this video by the awesome CeCe, where she discussed books that would

Vagueness in Including Queer Characters

I posted this discussion regarding queer characters in some popular shows. My point is that there is a certain kind of vagueness in the inclusion of queer characters in shows. I obviously don’t mean to use queer as a derogatory term. As an aro ace person, I identify as queer. It is a term I feel comfortable using. Let’s begin the discussion.

Projecting, but Never Canon

This is a common implied message I have noticed in many statements made by content creators. For instance, take a look at Andrew Scott responding to questions regarding Moriarty’s sexuality.

His reply is double sided. On the one hand, it is okay for people to project whichever identifiers they may have onto the character. However, and this is kind of implied, it will never be canon.

My frustration with this sentiment is in its favoring of “traditional” sexuality (“heterosexual.”). For example, in Sherlock, Sherlock/Irene and John/Mary are presented as canon. The rest is simply hinted at. The question is, why not include queer characters if you are going to claim to be inclusive?

Condescending and Mocking

I have noticed a lot of mocking from actors when faced with questions regarding their characters’ sexuality. For example, take a look at the Supernatural cast discussing Dean/Castiel’s relationship.  One actor says, “That is some weird sh**.”    And, “You don’t want any part of that.” Here is another video where another actor talks about the supposed growth in slash fanvideo and fanfiction in which he calls it, “fuc*ed up but it is nice.” 

It’s like shipping queer relationships is trouble or an inconvenience. I am not a fan of the show, but I can tell that it’s about angels and demons. If you are dealing with the supernatural, how on earth is it trouble to include queer characters? Is it really a stretch of the imagination for a main character to identify as queer?


It boils down to inherent phobic responses to queer relationships due to ignorance. For instance, the actors in the show Merlin tend to avoid the most common ship for the show, Merlin/Arthur.

In response to this ship, Katie McGrath calls it “genius,” and then drops a comment, “I am not sure Bradley and Colin feel the same way.” She continues to dismiss the romance. Again, it is like a homosexual relationship is an insult to the actors and characters.

Why It Matters

This ignorance and negative attitude towards playing queer characters makes it hard to find queer representation in the media. The vagueness in the inclusion of queer characters makes it harder to: 1) Identify as such in real life, 2) Create dialogue regarding prejudice in the LGBT+ community.



warnings I want to preface this essay with a series of disclaimers. First, this is
  Early in the year, I decided to plunge into various reading challenges. Namely, my
I was watching this video by the awesome CeCe, where she discussed books that would

Disc.: Disability and Representation

Before getting sick, I didn’t think much about disability. I assumed that all disabled people are easy to spot. I also thought they didn’t want attention; they have been disabled all their lives (this is very embarrassing. Keep reading).

Oh, the embarrassment of seeing a seizure for the first time and just standing there helpless and confused. Also: yes, the irony of me getting a seizure disorder later on, that hasn’t escaped me.

What Changed?

I got sick. At first, I was angry because I thought I was too smart to get sick in the head. Depression, anxiety, and psychotic episodes all within 5 years into my twenties.

Even then, years later, I started understanding the complexities of disability and its representations in media and literature. I realized that not every disabled person knows what they need. And, even if they do, there’s a tremendous pressure to act “normal.”


For whatever reason, the media reduces people to simple “visible” disabilities. “Oh, look, he needs a wheelchair. He’s got a ramp. Problem solved!” There is zero representation of people with disabilities as central characters. One enraging example is Quinn in Glee, who was paralyzed momentarily for texting and driving. It’s like disability is the worst thing that could happen to a person.

Another example is in Me Before You, where Will wants to kill himself for being disabled. I just want to see movies about disabled people living and functioning on their own terms.

Flaws in the Representation

There are so many flaws in how the media approaches us as a group of people.  For instance, why are we presented as these wholesome characters? Or, by the same token, we are vilified? Disability doesn’t make you inherently evil or wholesome. There’re shades of grey here, not just black or white.

It’s not a cause for personal development. We have other things in our lives besides our disabilities. There are disabled athletes, parents, speakers, entrepreneurs.

This reminds me of another point: not everyone has an accident that makes them disabled. It’s not a punishment from God for sinning or something. Sometimes, your body does weird things. It’s sometime genetics or circumstance.

Also: can we not assume that disabled people are infants? This goes back to the wholesome image idea. There are lots of high-functioning disabled people who can handle taking care of their own for the most part. Some disabled people can’t do that, but this doesn’t disqualify them as adults or humans overall. People act a certain way because there’s a logical explanation. I truly believe that. Don’t dismiss it as “craziness.”

Overall, we need more complexity in how disability is represented. Disabled folks aren’t disabled bodies only. Moreover, being disabled doesn’t make someone any less interesting or worthy of success, respect, or representation.

Why Representation Matters

Look, it matters. When I got sick initially, I thought I was going to get sent to a psych ward forever because that’s all the media had taught me. I thought of the mad woman in Jane Eyre. I thought of Lenny in Of Mice and Men. I thought of how much I’d stand out and how everyone would be ashamed of me for the rest of my life.  I thought of how I could be like David Foster Wallace, Virginia Woolf, Ned Vizzini, who couldn’t live a long happy life because of their mental illnesses.

In other words, I grew up thinking that I’d have to die, because I wasn’t “normal.” Normal people get regular jobs, move out, get married, have children.

I thought of how there’d be no story to tell about me, no legacy, because no one writes stories, good, exciting, and worthwhile stories about anyone with a disability. If/when they do, it’s all about their disability, and how they “conquer” it.

The truth is, you don’t need to defeat the disability. That’s like fighting your own skin and trying to get new skin instead. No, man, no. Don’t do that. And don’t expect anyone to change themselves, fake their life to fit into a box of able-ism.

For More:

–“Disability Critical Analysis”

–“Dis-Course: Disability Representation in the Media (Part 1)” 

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