We’ve all done it.
“I’m so OCD” but you don’t wash your hands until they bleed so your mom doesn’t die
“wow she’s being so bipolar” do you mean easily upset?
“ugh I’m so ADHD” are you? when were you diagnosed?
“they’re a psycho” again, do you mean easily upset?
“I’m having a panic attack“ are you? do you think you’re having a heart attack or are your palms just sweaty before an exam?
When did this start? When did we start replacing common emotions and words with clinical disorders? It isn’t funny or true and it even minimizes the challenges of people who are actually diagnosed. Remember when the R word (now known as intellectual disability) was used regularly? It was so normal, but isn’t anymore. I don’t know about you, but I experience second-hand embarrassment when I hear someone use it. My hope is that one day using clinical disorders like the ones I’ve described so casually will provoke the same kind of embarrassment and discomfort hearing someone say “the R word” does now.
By the way, if it doesn’t bother you, you need to catch up.
OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is not double checking something. It isn’t even triple checking something. It is having obsessions (the O) that will not stop torturing you until you complete the ritual or compulsion (the C). It is not being able to leave the house some days because you couldn’t get the thoughts to leave you alone long enough to do anything else (the D). The thoughts are not just annoying. Imagine seeing your mother lying bloodied in the street because you touched the table three times with your left hand but only once with your right. Now imagine that happening to you day in and day out. That is OCD. That is why it isn’t funny to use it in every day language. Try using “particular” or “careful” instead.
Bipolar disorder is not your friend having an attitude. Bipolar Disorder is bewildering highs and crushing lows. Try using “short” or “irritable” instead.
ADHD is not you simply being distracted. Try using…”distracted” instead. Articulate!
Panic disorder is not you getting a little worked up over speaking in front of your class or getting the shakes before an exam. You literally think you are dying right there when you are having a panic attack. If you didn’t know that the symptoms of a panic attack mimic that of a heart attack, you do now. Try using “nervous” instead.
Being in the middle of a psychotic break or episode is not you simply being irritable. It is terrifying and confusing for everyone involved. Try using “irritated” or “upset” instead.
Hopefully this is painting a picture for you, dear reader.
Habits are hard to break, but let’s make a conscious effort to not use clinical disorders as descriptors for how we are feeling. Words have power. Use that power to help others instead to unknowingly making someone feel more isolated and misunderstood than they already do.
My hope is that we make a group effort to call one another out (nicely) when we hear this kind of language being used. It doesn’t have to be a rant and it shouldn’t be! Something as simple as saying “hey, please don’t use _____ as a way to describe that” will be enough to get someone thinking. Becoming self-aware is one of the best things you can do.
Comments? questions? suggestions? I want to hear from you!