From a young age we sing ‘sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me’. But that’s not true is it? Words can break a person as easily as sticks and stones.
The language around mental health is not always kind or compassionate. The more research I do on Bipolar Disorder and mental health conditions in general, the more I’m learning that certain terms and words are outdated or stigmatizing. I’ve even used some of them in my older posts.
- Instead of saying that someone suffers from depression, you should say that they live with or are experiencing depression.
- Instead of saying that someone committed suicide, you should say that they died by suicide. ‘Committed’ infers that there was a criminal action taken and that the individual is a criminal which is clearly not the case.
- Instead of calling someone insane, you should say that the person is living with a mental health condition or illness.
People are quick to say that they’re depressed or have OCD as a joke but being trivial about those illnesses only further stigmatizes them.
- Depression is not the same as having a bad day or feeling sad over something.
- OCD is not the same as being organized, it is a debilitating illness.
- ADHD is not the same as being hyperactive or energetic for a few hours.
- Anxiety Disorder is not the same as feeling stressed before an exam.
- Bipolar is not the same as being moody.
- PTSD is not the same as feeling upset.
All of the above disorders are debilitating and serious. They affect a person’s ability to function and live a meaningful life.
Every time someone uses these terms carelessly, it’s harmful to those who experience the conditions. Odds are, someone you know has a mental health illness and they may not disclose it because of insensitive language. So maybe don’t call someone crazy when they’re acting funny. Call them weird.
Words can label people experiencing mental health illnesses as victims or sufferers. The reality is they’re battling things that you can’t even begin to imagine. Let’s call them what they really are. Warriors.