Blog posts I write almost exclusively revolve around mental illness, a topic most people do not want to read about. But there is something inside me though – it feels like all emotions wrapped up in one – and it is only there when I am writing. It is like having a compass to guide me in the right direction with what I am writing. I will never stop writing about issues involving mental health. While many people in this world would do anything to avoid the matter, It is my wish to change that. Most people see all mental health patients as “crazy”, no matter the severity of the illness. Someone could have mild depression or PTSD and they are called “crazy”, it is not fair, regardless of the illness or degree of the condition. Using “crazy” as a way to describe someone with a disability is like comparing a kid stealing candy to a master criminal. I looked up the exact definition in the dictionary and here is what it says:
Crazy – Adj.
1. Mentally deranged, especially as manifested in a wild and aggressive way.
“Stella went crazy”
Synonyms: mad, insane, mad as a March hare, deranged, lunatic, etc.
Informal: mental, nutty, bonkers, loopy, bats, raving mad, crackers, etc.
2. Extremely enthusiastic
“I’m crazy about Daphne.”
Synonyms: passionate about, (very) keen on, enamored of, smitten with, devoted to, etc.
Antonyms: indifferent, apathetic.
The word has, unfortunately, become commonplace. In society, some often use the dictionary’s first definition to categorize and stigmatize a group of people who do not deserve such harsh treatment. Then, a word is more than a word. Studies have shown that people living with mental illness are far more likely to be the victims of violent crimes than the perpetrators, but that doesn’t stop some in society from blaming us for almost every violent act reported. Mental illnesses are illnesses, even though some choose not to accept it. “Crazy” has been a word to portray those who suffer with mental illness as dangerous, weak, unpredictable, unproductive and incapable of rational behavior or relationships. It is a word used without any serious thought or consideration. The meanings we attach to words influence our feelings, attitudes and beliefs. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect. Respectful language emphasizes the person, it shows respect for a person’s dignity and worth. This is called person-first language. Before choosing your words, think about if labeling a person benefits the conversation or not. Mental health is only one aspect of who a person is. If the information doesn’t contribute to the conversation in a necessary or meaningful way, why mention it at all? Labelling can be harmful, but when it is important, just remember to use respectful language. For example, instead of saying “mentally ill”, you could say “a person living with mental illness”.