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Why Language Matters When It Comes To Mental Health + Illness

I didn't think language mattered. I thought it was more of a personal thing, you know how you would deal with the things people say. Because you can only control YOUR actions and reactions afterall!

But if there's one thing I've learned it's that language DOES matter. And how you talk to people is SO important. Not only does it sit with them and whoever is around, but it also affects you and your perspective. The list of cringe-worthy words is probably endless - and different words affect different groups and communities differently. I feel particularly attached to mental health terminology because of my personal connection if we're being honest. So these stereotypes and glaring discriminations hit me like a ton of bricks. Crazy is a big one. I'm getting itchy and uncomfortable even writing the word. I know people say that taking back the language is more empowering and I can understand that. But to me, I feel like we can do better. We don't need to use these mindless words at all, they've been so washed in stereotypes and false connotations.

Anyways, Crazy.

We so flippantly toss this word around it's cr@$y! Is it really, is it? I feel like there's a better word to use to describe certain situations, especially ones pertaining to mental health and illness challenges. It is in no way your place or fair to pass that kind of judgment regardless of any diagnosis.

You're not sick, you're just lazy. 
You're not sick, you're just faking it.
You're not sick, you're just looking for attention.

These words are so so damaging. They make you feel worthless, useless, more depressed, misunderstood, frustrated... I can't recall a positive outcome after being told any of the above statements. If you're looking to offer support, trying to veer away from the blaming statements and judgment. Instead look to validate the person's feelings, listen to them, and make them feel supported.

Looking at mental illness diagnosis and mental health challenges in a different perspective has allowed us to see the positive in our daily struggles. Despite being told we're weak and out of control,  we choose to view it as expressive, brave, and strong. Constantly working through what we can wherever we're at.

Of course, we realize everyone is different and everyone perceives terms differently, all we're encouraging is to be more open-minded when it comes to mental health language. That means consulting with a friend or partner about the language they prefer, being more mindful when in groups or crowds, and identifying language YOU are comfortable with!


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