stop using mental health terms as ‘banter’

I felt inspired to write about this topic after watching Meghan Rienks talk about it on her social media platforms over the past week. She was talking about how using terms such as ‘triggered’/’trigger warning’ grinds her gears because she personally suffers from mental health disorders that can be legitimately triggered. It got me thinking about how I feel about people using mental health terms that I relate to in situations where its usage does not apply or feels inappropriate.

I have lost count of the amount of times people who know my history of depression talk about being ‘so depressed’ to describe a time when they were bored in a lecture or went to a club that was a little bit empty. THIS IS NOT DEPRESSION.  I have also had people say to me ‘omg my anxiety is through the roof’ when discussing feeling nervous for a date. THIS IS NOT ANXIETY. Both of these mental health issues come in many different forms & I don’t want to seem like I am saying that because someone’s experience of depression or anxiety is different to mine that it is not legitimate. What I am saying is that when these things have been said to me they are being said by people very flippantly, disregarding the seriousness of the illnesses for people who have them. That being said, for the most part I tend to ignore it because I am the kind of person that avoids confrontation at all costs and I don’t want to start a debate about something. However, I can now see that by doing this I am part of the problem.

I believe that it is time to educate people in the proper usage of mental health phrases because I am tired of people using terms like OCD to describe being tidy or saying that they are ‘triggered’ by a new make up palette. For people who suffer with mental health problems, we already have to face a huge societal stigma about what we have. We have been made to feel like we are attention-seeking and being over dramatic, we are put on waiting lists for counselors that are months and months long because the sector is underfunded, as well as having to cope with what can be a debilitating illness. It is time to start explaining to our peers how using these phrases for ‘banter’ hurts us and fuels the stigma that we already face. It is time for us to educate ourselves on mental health terms and learn to use them properly.With all that is going on in the world right now I don’t think we need to be adding to anyone’s problems.

So please, think before using one of these terms the next time you are on twitter or you are out with your friends. You don’t know who could be suffering in silence.

 

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