let’s talk about implications of our diction

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!

Thanks guys




4 thoughts on “let’s talk about implications of our diction

  1. I was totally unaware that I was doing this until KT Was her at Christmas time. I was describing certain people, or situations, or even myself using clinical disorders to label and, I admit, add a little ‘drama/exaggeration/flippant/funny’ quip to what I was talking about. My Darling KT would look at me differently in those moments…. with perhaps just a moment of hesitancy to say anything….(because I am her Aunt and I see her not nearly as often as I SHOULD and she is a respectful woman)….but she kindly asked me not to use (insert term here) in talking about whatever I was talking about. WOW! Did that every hit home with me.

    I really, unconsciously, was doing that A LOT. Not a little…..but A LOT! I was so glad that she brought this to light for me. I really do try harder to not walk that path now. Do I slip? Yes. And I probably will time and time again. But I am conscious of it now and can catch it. I try to help others see it to.

    That’s what it’s going to take to make the change. And unless you’ve actually walked down the path of any of these disorders yourself, or lived with, loved, or cared for anyone with these disorders….you do not realize that you are, not intentionally, belittling or making light of a very real and devastating issue for many people.

    So STOP and think about it for a moment and see where you might be allowing yourself to fall astray. It’s very empowering when you become more enlightened to the world around you.

    Thanks Kaytee-did, for this topic. It needs to become viral to make a change. Keep talking! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks a lot for the effort and for this nice topic .. You know I am a fifth year medical student .. (one more year to go 🙂 ) .. and I was doing my psychiatry rotation this year .. by the way I have compassion toward psychiatry and I want to be a psychiatrist since I was diagnosed with depression .. because I knew how it feels and I want to remove the stigma and spread awareness in my country ..
    Anyhow, during my psychiatry rotation, I was surprised by the way some of the medical students were talking about the patients when they were done taking the history from them .. some of them were unfortunately making fun of them and that hurt me a lot and I couldn’t stay quiet .. I defended the patient as if it was me they were laughing at ..
    And deep in my hurt I was telling myself, if future doctors are looking to people with mental illnesses like this, then how would normal people look at them ?!
    I guess the issue of stigma is really huge and it is having a real impact on patients life and their treatment ..
    And it is good that people like you have started to do something about it ..

    I will be talking about my own personal experience with the stigma from my family and its impact on me on my blog if you want to follow me 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. congratulations on being almost done. You’re absolutely right; it is terrifying to see how medical professionals approach and talk about patients and mental health as a whole. Good for you for sticking up for them, by the way. All we can do is call people out when we see them doing something that isn’t okay and get them thinking. If doctors are doing this, then how are average Joe’s on the street treating people?? I’m glad to see you share my perspective. It 100% impacts treatment, recovery, self-esteem, all of it.
      Thank you for your support. I followed 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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