On Mental Illnesses as Adjectives

As someone with multiple mental health diagnoses, I would like to address the use of mental illnesses as adjectives. I’m talking about the times people say things like “oh, there she goes acting anorexic again,” about a picky eater, or “I’m O.C.D about that,” if they are really into cleaning, or “He must be bipolar,” about someone who is acting a bit moody. It is not acceptable to use the names of real illnesses, which can be debilitating, in such a trivial manner. There is already enough stigma and misunderstanding around mental illness. Casual use of the terms contribute to inaccurate perceptions, such as that someone who is depressed is just sad, and can make themselves snap out of it if they only tried hard enough. They are struggles that real people go through, and their names should not be tossed around like that. Words have power. If you have used a mental illness as an adjective before, I ask you to consider how it makes the people who actually have it feel, and to think about your word choice. We can all help contribute to dismantling the social stigma if we make a conscious effort to be mindful of our language. Thank you for reading.


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