Many people use mental disorders as adjectives, romanticizing the illness. No one should make these illnesses into an adjective that people can throw around in everyday conversation. Not only does it insult people who have some connection to the illness, but it is simply not politically correct. Here are some phrases that you might have said in the past— now you have no excuse to use them in everyday conversation.
“She’s like, anorexic skinny.”
You probably hear this phrase all the time.
Guess what! Just because someone is thin, doesn’t mean they’re anorexic!
In the United States alone, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from some type of eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. Not many people realize that shaming people because they may be overweight is the same as shaming people for being thin. People come in all shapes and sizes. Some may be naturally curvier or naturally thinner— people can’t always help it!
“You almost gave me a panic attack.”
Sneaking up on someone or pulling a prank on someone does not elicit a panic attack. Yes, it is possible for someone who actually has anxiety to have a panic attack if this happens to them, but if you do not actually have this disorder, please do not throw this term around. A panic attacks are emotionally debilitating. Symptoms vary from person to person, but some include: lack of control, lightheadedness, heaviness in the chest, loss of breath, chills, and rapid heartbeat. Do these things happen to you when your friend pulls a prank on you?
“Ugh, I’m so OCD about that.”
Obsessive compulsive disorder is a form of anxiety and is another phrase that is often thrown around which cause people to take less seriously. First of all, saying “I’m so Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” does not make any sense. Second of all, just because you are an organized person does not mean you have OCD. People can simply be organized! People who actually struggle with OCD tend to get insulted when people make light of their disorder— go figure! Try to take this phrase out of your vocabulary.
“I got so depressed when he told me that.”
Many people don’t understand the difference between being depressed and being sad.
Depression affects about 15 million Americans and it usually develops after the age 18. Depression affects many people all over the world— belittling their illness doesn’t help anyone. Also, there is such thing as situational depression. Make sure you are aware of this because while many people suffer from clinical depression, some struggle with depression for a while. Just know that there is a huge difference between depression and sadness. Sadness comes and goes while depression is always there in the back of people’s minds.
“I went to bed so late, I think I have insomnia.”
Sleeping disorders are probably the most overlooked disorders. People often make light of insomnia and sleep apnea by saying they have it after not going to bed at their usual time. These people are very wrong. Chronic insomnia is something 10% of Americans struggle with every day, while others may experience insomnia short term. People tend to not take sleep disorders seriously because it affects less of the population, thus it is often overlooked.
When people throw around these phrases, it can trigger people with these disorders. Hearing people who obviously do not struggle with the same things you do say these things can hurt. If you actually have an eating disorder or anxiety, it is extremely upsetting to hear anyone minimize the extremity of said illness. Hearing your peers throwing disorders around lessens the severity of the illness, making it less of a priority. This being said, if you develop a disorder or discover you have had one, you will not think it is as serious as it is. Society generally places mental disorders on the back burner.
Please be careful when you say these things because they can affect people around you whether you mean to or not.
Try to make an effort to educate yourself about mental health and be more sensitive to those who are affected by these disorders daily.
If you need someone to talk to on campus, look into the UNT Campus Counseling services located in Chestnut Hall 311.