Let’s Stop Using Mental Disorders As Adjectives and Figures of Speech



Imagine carrying a burden enough to put you on the brink of ending your own life, then you hear people casually using the term of your diagnosis to describe an inappropriate situation. These people who have mental illnesses do not go through treatments and existential dread for their diagnosis to be romanticized or downplayed.

Hyperbolizing situations using these terms invalidates the suffering of people with mental illnesses and perpetuates the stigma. People still find it hard to open up and disclose their symptoms. Families lose loved ones from these mental health problems every single day. As stated in the World Health Organization fact sheet for 2018, close to 800, 000 people die from suicide every year and 79% of global suicides happen in low- and middle-income countries.

An act as little as being politically correct shows that we care.

The feeling of being sad does not equate to the symptoms of “Depression”

Taking anti-depressants for the first time can be frustrating. Like what my doctor said; it’s not like paracetamol that immediately takes the pain away. It definitely takes longer than a minute, an hour, a day, and a week. It varies from case to case, it might take longer than a month. Depression does not go away as sadness does. According to the World Health Organization, ‘unipolar depressive disorders’ will move up to the number one leading cause of global burden by 2030.

An eccentric person is not “Psycho”

This involves those with schizophrenia. They lose themselves in a false reality their disorder has created. A lot of us have seen them being isolated and secluded from the world. Being weird does not definitely make a person “psychotic.”  In the Philippines, schizophrenia is the number one mental disorder as reported by Johnson & Johnson’s Philippine Health Information System.

Anal-retentiveness is different from “OCD”

This is presumably the most common in problematic colloquial expressions. For instance, a friend of yours could show the quality of perfectionism. That person’s organizational skill is excellent, but does that qualify as “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?” Remember that it’s not just a trait, people who have OCD are the ones that battle their own brain every single day.

“Social Anxiety” is not synonymous to shyness or awkwardness

As someone who is diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder, this affects a person to function on a daily basis. Although the irrationality of fear is known and understood, the feeling of anxiety is hard to manipulate. People with this disorder are predisposed with a fear of being watched and interacting with strangers. It interferes with speech, performance, and even relationships.

Calling someone “Anorexic” for solely being skinny

Being betrayed by one’s own mind and body is an unfathomable problem anyone who does not experience it cannot imagine. “Anorexia” as a figure of speech is both demeaning and undermining.

Someone who simply changes mood does not have a “Bipolar Disorder”

Changing your mind at the last minute is not “bipolar.” The crippling manic and depressive episodes of people with Bipolar Disorder is not simply a change in mood or attitude. Using bipolar for mood swings contributes to the ignorance that shames a group of people gradually getting incapacitated by their brain and society.

There are other debilitating brain illnesses that need to be recognized, but these are the few that we usually hear. This only means that we have a long way to go. And if we recognize that now, then it’s a few steps closer to progression.

RELATED: What The Passing Of The Mental Health Law Means For Filipinos

If you suffer from any of these mental disorders – as cliché as it sounds, you are never alone because there is help for you. Please don’t hesitate to call these mental health hotline numbers by Department of Health – 804-4673 & 0917-5584673. Toll-Free number for all Globe and TM subscribers is 2919.