An Unquiet Mind A National Magazine Award-winning column by s.e. smith that explores disability identity and its interaction with the world at large

Give Disability Feminism the Respect It Deserves

We speak of the radicalization of disabled people, but so few have that experience. So many never even know us.

Sep 20, 2021
Britney Spears’s Conservatorship and the Harm of “For Your Own Good”

What’s terrifying about Spears’s situation, for a certain kind of disabled person, is that we are a razor’s edge away from joining her.

Jul 14, 2021
Save Me From the Cure Evangelists

It upsets cure evangelists to see evidence of disability, right there in front of them.

Apr 28, 2021
We Don’t Want More Beds, We Want Disability Justice

Beds transmute into a form of policing while simultaneously being promoted as an alternative to policing.

Mar 16, 2021
Why Is There No Place for Serious Mental Illness in Anti-Stigma Campaigns?

In listings for old pottery that was not intended to be crazed, sellers will disclose what they see as damage: ‘Some crazing.’ Sometimes that’s how I feel. Some crazing.

Jan 28, 2021
What My Mental Illness Taught Me About Self-Control

There are entire lines of therapy that basically boil down to “learn self-control so you never upset the sane.”

Jan 07, 2021
First You Must Know Something Is Wrong

Everyone’s experience of a diagnosis is different. Here is mine: A key opens a lock I didn’t know existed, sending a door swinging wide.

Nov 16, 2020
How Mental Illness Became a Scapegoat for Trump’s White Supremacy

When you attribute someone’s evil actions to their mental health status rather than their actual root cause—like white supremacy—then that evil is no longer presented as a choice.

Oct 21, 2020
Disability Sucks Sometimes. Why is it Taboo to Say So?

Disability ruins everything, these stories tell us: disability itself is tragedy. These people’s lives are over, apparently, even though they are palpably still here.

Aug 25, 2020
What If Accessibility Was Also Inclusive?

It’s hard to articulate what it feels like to spend a lifetime being told that you are not allowed. Not always in so many words, but in gestures, in spaces, in thoughtlessness.

Jul 28, 2020
Tired of Dying: Ashes Action, Covid-19, and Protesting Under a Pandemic

When your back is against the wall, dumping your loved ones in the president’s front yard can seem like the only rational response.

Jun 15, 2020
The Hands That Haunt Us: When Did Disability Become Consent?

You will remember, in fact, the first doctor who does ask, who says ‘is it okay if I put my hands here,’ gesturing, waiting for you to say ‘yes.’

Mar 17, 2020
Why the Label of ‘Gifted Kid’ Isn’t Always a Gift

Here’s a thing about being labeled “smart” as a kid: When there’s a thing you’re not good at, people assume it is because you are lazy.

Feb 05, 2020
What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Mental Health and Medication

Experiencing a severe reaction to medication taught me many interesting things about the limits of my own body, but also the limits of the world around me.

Nov 26, 2019
The Ugly Beautiful and Other Failings of Disability Representation

Those who spend their lives in bodies others deem unworthy grow accustomed to building our own self-worth.

Oct 24, 2019
Are We Ever Disabled ‘Enough’ When You Don’t See Our Disabilities?

It is not so much that these things are invisible as it is that people are trained to hide them, and society is conditioned to look away from them.

Jul 17, 2019
When Disability Is a Toxic Legacy

Disability is not wrong or tragic or bad, but sometimes it is a symptom of a grave injustice.

Apr 23, 2019
Skin Hunger and the Taboo of Wanting to be Touched

How can I say that I fear I’ll never date again without feeding the monster? No one owes me their touch; I am starving for it just the same.

Feb 05, 2019
The Beauty of Spaces Created For and By Disabled People

It is very rare, as a disabled person, that I have an intense sense of belonging, of being not just tolerated or included in a space, but actively owning it.

Oct 22, 2018
Cripple Perks: The Unreasonable Luxury of Living While Disabled

“Accommodations are things that we need, and deserve, in order to lead our lives. But they’re treated—we are treated—like we’re trying to pull one over on the rest of society.”

Aug 15, 2018