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My body dictates who I am. I work the way I do because of my body, I vote the way I do because of my body and I live the way I do because of my body. It is not my body that is at fault, but society’s failure to deal with bodies like mine. I might be in pain, but I am whole. I refuse to have the difficult parts cropped out.
Kylie Maslen has been living with invisible illness for twenty years—more than half her life. Its impact is felt in every aspect of her day-to-day existence: from work to dating; from her fears for what the future holds to her difficulty getting out of bed some mornings.
Through pop music, art, literature, TV, film and online culture, Maslen explores the lived experience of invisible illness with sensitivity and wit, drawing back the veil on a reality many struggle—or refuse—to recognise. Show Me Where it Hurts is a powerful collection of essays that speak to those who have encountered the brush-off from doctors, faced endless tests and treatments, and endured chronic pain and suffering. But it is also a bridge reaching out to partners, families, friends, colleagues, doctors: all those who want to better understand what life looks like when you cannot simply show others where it hurts.
‘Show Me Where It Hurts gives new energy to the unspeakable grind of chronic illness—it’s arresting, honest and rightfully angry. An essential read for anyone who cares about anyone else.’
‘It is liberating to read Maslen’s tireless probe into the anatomy of the chronic illnesses that have for years exhausted her body. Maslen is meticulous, diagnosing what else is invisible alongside her illness—pain, isolation, grief, sacrifice, repetition and the failure of others to understand. She generously lays bare what sickness steals and what it leaves behind. This book is obligatory reading for anyone who wants to better understand and love someone who is suffering.’
‘Show Me Where It Hurts is remarkable for the way in which it balances humour and rage as it charts the injuries and injustices—as well as the moments of solace and love—that come with living with chronic illness and pain. Maslen’s writing is quick and sharp, and keen on addressing stigma and taboos. This is a fascinating account of visual representations of illnesses that are unseen, and of what it means to reconsider and to continue to live a life that has been changed by disability and disease.’
‘Everyone must read Show Me Where It Hurts. This collection of essays about chronic pain and invisible illness not only validates and represents the experiences of those who have too long been ignored, gaslighted or diminished by medical professionals and wider society, but acts as a much-needed wake-up call for those who are able-bodied yet presume to know what it might be like to live with disability. Maslen is a writer of formidable intelligence, and has an uncanny ability to pull apart the fabric of popular culture to reveal the prejudices threaded throughout. Show Me Where It Hurts is honest, powerful and brilliant. It will change minds.’
‘In this generous and urgent book, Kylie Maslen has built a wide, sensory world that charts a history of invisible illness with tenderness and clarity. Show Me Where It Hurts will forge true understanding between a world that causes or ignores pain, and those that bear its load.’
‘[Kylie Maslen’s] confessional style helps illuminate the misogyny of a medical establishment that frequently disbelieves or underplays women’s health problems…Show Me Where It Hurts is a timely and engaging essay collection for readers of nonfiction that’s unflinching yet compassionate, such as Clare Bowditch’s Your Own Kind of Girl and Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women.’
‘Show Me Where It Hurts rejects the sympathy of the reader as much as it evokes their empathy and understanding. Maslen’s breadth of knowledge and willingness to frame her arguments within her lived experience make her a compelling writer.’
‘Maslen’s book is sharp and defiant, told through a prism of pop culture and delivered with a punch, reinforcing the debilitating pain that so often consumes her.’
‘This book is part of a cultural movement towards telling stories that have been so neglected…The essays will be immediately relatable to the many millions of us who encounter chronic illness, and offer an important translation for those who don’t.’