"Oh, my God. My computer is frickin' bipolar today."
"Dude, she's like TOTALLY schizo lately."
"Stop being all retarded!"
Nothing makes me rage more than the blatant disregard to the weight that these words carry. Nothing makes my hair stand on end more than the ignorance people show when throwing these words around like they're simple vocabulary. Yes, they're descriptive terms. However, only people who have actually lived with these words in their lives on a day-to-day basis really understand how descriptive they are - and it's no laughing matter.
About a year or so ago, a newcaster on a local television news program referred to some economic downfall as "bipolar". He just slipped it casually into his statement, but that word slapped me right across the face. I doubt the newcaster has personally seen what a bipolar diagnosis has done to someone, and to their family. I doubt they have witnessed the powerful manic episodes and crushing depressions. I really doubt they have spent a single day with someone who runs through thousands of dollars in a day and then cries themselves to sleep that night. I wonder if they know what mental illness can do to a career, to a family, to personal fortitude. Try to picture living your life right now, except you are sidelined by crippling sadness - or perhaps you haven't slept in six days. Can you function in your life at this moment without having slept for a week?
What about the folks that call everything "retarded"? Have they spent their days with family members who suffer with being different, perhaps a bit slower in thought than "normal people"? I try to put myself in their shoes - not being able to comprehend something that seems to easy to others. How frustrating! Have these people who use these words had conversations with people who are so focused on one video game that it's as if they live their life in pixels? Perhaps they do live their lives that way - who are we to know, and who are we to use those words so lightly?
I would also like to know if these word-slingers have spent time with people who suffer from schizophrenia. I try to imagine what it's like - worrying constantly that the world is out to get you... hearing voices that nobody else can hear, and sometimes these voices will be telling you to hurt yourself or someone else. Can you imagine waking up in the morning and seeing shadows over your bed, and then the shadows follow you around all day, never leaving you alone? I have worked with many people with schizophrenia, and my heart breaks for them. I can't imagine walking by someone, fighting your own demons, and then hearing "it's being all schizo" oozing out of someone's mouth as if it's an everyday word.
I also get frustrated with hearing people throw the word "depression" around so casually. As someone who lived with depression for years, I know how heartrending and exhausting it is to have to wake up every day. While I am overjoyed that it's not such a stigma anymore, I still urge people to realize what they're saying out loud.
Perhaps we all need to take stock in our vocabularies, and especially in those times that we are speaking in public. There are plenty of words to use that aren't hurtful for those who might be suffering from these illnesses or afflictions.
Maybe that person is finally having a good day, free of that weight for a few minutes - imagine what hearing those casual, unfeeling words could do.
I've been there. I've also casually tossed those words about without thinking. In the past few years I've made a conscious effort to change my vocabulary to not include those words as an insult. Because despite the rhyme, words can break you.ReplyDelete
I also have thrown around a couple words before I realized how much they stung others. Words really can break someone. It's awful to see. Or feel.Delete
My son was diagnosed with OCD and severe panic/anxiety disorder when he was 12. A real, neurological diagnosis, not just a label slapped on at school. It makes me apoplectic when people use OCD without regard for what it actually means. I've called people out for it, and got mixed responses - either apologies for the insensitivity, or was told to' get over it, it's just a word.'ReplyDelete
It is very frustrating.
My boyfriend also has OCD and anxiety, and it's very telling sometimes to see how much it affects him, although he tries to keep it quiet. I've had my own bouts with anxiety and panic attacks, and would never wish those on anyone.Delete
Love and strength to you and your son. Thank you so much for being public with your story, and for calling people out on their insensitive moments.
I completely agree! Words can be used to build up or tear down. I am definitely guilty of speaking without thinking, at times. This is a great reminder of how powerful our words can be.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Sybil. I think we, as humans, tend not to think constantly about how we come across in our verbage. I know we will never be perfect.Delete