Mental Health isn’t a Joke

By Camryn McLen

A lot of people seem to think that words used to describe mental health are for everyday use.

Well, they’re not.

Bipolar disorder is not “quirky” or “fun,” and the term shouldn’t be used as an adjective to describe something inanimate or erratic at all. Just because something is unreliable, inconsistent or unpredictable doesn’t mean it’s bipolar.

To demonstrate, saying that the weather is bipolar because it’s unpredictable because it’s hot one day and cold the next is offensive to people who have bipolar disorder. 

Just because you may have a couple of bad days and then have a good day right after, doesn’t mean you are bipolar. You had a bad day and then you got over it.

Bipolar disorder is more than just being “unpredictable.” By using this diagnosis as an adjective, people are undermining the seriousness of the disorder. 

People with bipolar disorder go through extreme manic, hypomanic or depressive episodes. According to the International Bipolar Foundation, these episodes can last for days or weeks, and the episodes can affect several parts of a person. 

Energy levels, ability to function in everyday life and changes in mood are all effects of bipolar disorder episodes.

Maybe you haven’t heard of people using “bipolar” as an adjective, which is good, but unfortunately it isn’t the only illness that is used as a descriptor when it shouldn’t be.

Calling someone crazy, for example, when you think their behavior is abnormal or unstable is also offensive to anyone with a mental health disorder.

Being called crazy for having a condition you obviously didn’t ask for can make people who are suffering feel bad about themselves. 

Kanye West has been called crazy for years now because of his Twitter rants and “strange” posts, but what people don’t realize is that he’s still a human; he’s still affected by something he didn’t ask for.

These posts and tweets are a result of the episodes he’s continuously going through. Calling him crazy for that is like indirectly calling anyone with the same illness crazy. 

Similar to using bipolar as an adjective, calling someone crazy is undermining the seriousness of mental illnesses and invalidating an individual’s feelings or behavior. 

The same goes for depression.

I’ve heard several people say they’re depressed in situations when that word shouldn’t apply, like when someone is just sad. 

Sadness does not equal depression because depression is more than that. 

Yes, depression can include sadness, but it’s on a different level. That type of sadness is rooted from deeper things like not feeling wanted, feeling like a burden, feeling worthless and unfortunately much more. 

You’re not depressed just because you had a bad day or because you didn’t get something that you wanted.

Mayo Clinic defines depression as a mood disorder that causes a “persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.” It affects your thinking, your feelings and your behavior.

Some symptoms of depression that do not include sadness are irritability, sleeping too much or sleeping too little, anxiety, restlessness, trouble concentrating, lack of energy and increased or decreased appetite, according to Mayo Clinic.

There are several other mental illnesses that people may poke fun at or not take seriously, but people need to remember that these “jokes” are hurtful to people suffering from those illnesses.

If you’re ignorant to some mental illnesses, educate yourself on the topic. It’s easy and helps you get a better understanding of what people may be going through.

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