Monday, 5 October 2015

Semantics.

Alrighty, just in case it wasn't obvious/you've not read my rambling before, a note. I'm going to write about terms around mental health that I find insulting, inappropriate or just, you know, a bit bob (I've decided to bring the word 'bob' back. Apologies to anybody called Bob. Or anyone who didn't know that bob means poo). The list probably won't be comprehensive and some of the terms will be ones that other people with mental health problems are cool with. And that's fine. I'm mostly writing this for catharsis and to open it to the floor- have a chat, learn what bothers you and what bothers your loved ones. Be brave.

The term- Anorexic.
In a sentence- The anorexic refused to eat.
The problem- Defining a person by their mental health problem (it's the same with words like schizophrenic/bulimic/depressive, I'm just using anorexic as an example) implies that, at best, the illness is the most a person is, and at worst, the illness is all that a person is. We are NOT the illness; we HAVE the illness.
A better way- The person with anorexia refused to eat.

The term- Mental.
In a sentence- She's well mental!
The problem- It just sort of implies that anything negatively or scarily out of the ordinary- and what is ordinary?- is aligned with bad mental health, which is strange because often it's the introverts you need to worry about. And like, I get called mental by strangers who don't know my history all the time, just because I'm an odd 'un. It doesn't bother me quite so much when people are talking about a situation, but I still don't think it's quite the right terminology.
A better way- She's well weird!

The term- Mental patient.
In a sentence- The mental patient was hospitalised.
The problem- It goes back to the problem with the word mental to describe unusual. We are not mental. We have varying levels of mental health, just like the whole population.
A better way- The patient with mental health difficulties was hospitalised.

The term- Psycho/psychotic.
In a sentence- Psycho/psychotic killer on the loose.
The problem- What if I told you I have psychotic episodes a few times a week? Mostly these days they're fleeting. Occasionally I might have a day where I'm tormented by voices. Chances are, you wouldn't realise, because, well, why would you? In the same way that you wouldn't be able to spot necessarily a stranger with diabetes. Sometimes, it's true, a person with a mental health condition commits a murder, but generally, the media uses the word with no evidence of mental health issues and it exacerbates the fear of people with genuine psychosis in the population.
A better way- [insert any cheap, sensationalist words] killer on the loose.

The term- Manic.
In a sentence- It's been a manic day at the office.
The problem- I get it, I get it. But manic doesn't mean hectic. Manic is scary. It's a lack of control and it's heightened senses and anxiety and snapping. It's dangerous and yeah, ok, it's busy and I won't lie- I've had some fun with it. But the comedowns are the worst thing. It's physics, yo. Maybe. I don't know, I'm not that great at science.
A better way- It's been a hectic/busy/stressful day at the office.

I know some people will read this as me being a special snowflake, but you're the people who don't understand what it's like to have an illness that's robbed you of years of your life and, well, taken the actual lives of people you love, seemingly mocked. You're the lucky ones. And I hope you stay that way.

1 comment:

  1. No one should be defined by their illnesses... it's a horrible way to lable people... well thought out Rebecca

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