Sticks And Stones

I’m pretty sure we have all been guilty of doing this at some time or another in our lives but as we try to collectively move toward a stigma free society we need to start by remembering that mental illnesses are not adjectives. An adjective (for those of you who may have forgotten their grammar lesson from grade school) is “a word or phrase naming an attribute, added to or grammatically related to a noun to modify or describe it”.

When we use words or phrases to negatively describe another person that may be suffering with a mental illness or whom you may feel ill-will towards we are only enhancing the stigma surrounding it. We all know that using politically incorrect jargon, harmful expressions to describe a person’s disability or gender-specific stereotyping to describe another person or group of people are both offensive and very hurtful but yet when it comes to using those same offensive and hurtful words associated around mental illnesses many people don’t seem to bat an eyelash.

Whether or not you are using the words or phrases to describe yourself or someone else or whether or not you are doing it intentionally or in a malicious manner, the negative connotation is still the same. Using words like psycho, schizo, bipolar, loony and mental as adjectives are all words that can cause further damage to how we see mental illness.

It can also be just as destructive to someone suffering with a mental illness to hear phrases like “You’re so OCD!” or “I’m so depressed that my favorite tv show was cancelled” or worse than that is when you hear someone say something like “I just broke my nail, I think I’m gonna kill myself!” All of these phrases may be in jest but to someone who is actually experiencing these emotions or has been diagnosed with any type of mental illness including OCD it only further exploits the individual suffering.

Living with any type of mental illness is challenging enough so choose your words or phrases wisely and remember that adjectives help express the quality of a person so let’s try and build each other up instead of tearing each other down.

Author: Kim Fluxgold

Wife, mom of 3 beautiful children, dog lover, creative sole and children's book Author. Sharing my journey with depression and anxiety through blogging in hopes of educating and ending the stigma.

2 thoughts on “Sticks And Stones”

  1. Thank you for writing this very important post! It’s astonishing how so many people use such ignorant and hurtful phrases. We must continue to educate people and lesson the stigma around mental illness….one person at a time. 🙏💜

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a great piece. I have experienced mental health issues on and off for about 17 years and the clearest indication that someone doesn’t understand it is a phrase like you’ve given as an example. My husband was so supportive through my longest spell but it wasn’t until over 10 years later when he went through the same that he fully understood how depression feels. I think it’s the same with anyone. They just don’t get ‘it’ until they experience it.

    Liked by 1 person

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