I’m not fucking crazy

Language is a powerful tool. It has the ability to rouse people into a frenzy. It can inspire people to create. It can touch people’s souls. But sometimes, language has the ability to hurt. The old adage goes: “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Well in my experience that just isn’t true. Words can cut to the bone. And sometimes it’s the most benign situations that can incite the most hurt.

I was in a situation recently where someone said some careless things. The conversation revolved around a new mental health and addiction facility that was being built. The facility was across the street from this person’s home. That’s when the word crazy was thrown around. Someone said:

“You’re going to have all of those crazies in your backyard now.”

I sat there, shifting in my seat uncomfortably, as their words sunk in. In this person’s mind, people who access services offered by a mental health and addiction facility were crazy. This means, as someone who routinely accesses mental health services, I am crazy.

Fuck you

I’m not fucking crazy.

I have a mental illness.

People who access mental health services are not fucking crazy. They have a disease that is no different than having cancer or diabetes. Why is it okay to throw around the word crazy like it’s no big fucking deal?

Stop talkingNow, I’m not suggesting this particular individual had any ill intention behind their word choice. It was a casual remark, made in jest. Had they known about my situation, maybe they wouldn’t have made the remark. But that’s sort of the point. We shouldn’t only care about the language that we use when we personally know someone who may be hurt or offended by our words. We should be consciously choosing our words to ensure that no one is hurt or offended by them — whether we know their situation or not.

Now you may be thinking that I’m being oversensitive and should learn to take a joke. But the truth is, using words like crazy, lunatic, or psycho stigmatizes a group of people who were among the unlucky that got stuck with a disease. Using words like crazy can prevent people from seeking help because they’re afraid of being called crazy. Or, they may already think they’re crazy because of the stigma associated with having a mental illness. The fact that people can laugh so easily when the word crazy is thrown around to describe people with serious mental health issues illustrates the pervasive stigma that is associated with having a mental illness. You wouldn’t make fun of a person who had diabetes, cancer, or any other illness. So why is it okay to make fun of people who suffer from a mental illness?

Over time there have been many words that we no longer use because they’re offensive or derogatory to a group of people. I think it’s high time we retired the word crazy when talking about people who suffer from a mental illness. The reality is mental health problems are pervasive. Every Canadian will be touched by mental illness through a family member, friend, or colleague. 1 in 5 Canadians will suffer from some form of mental illness or addiction in their lifetime. So the next time you’re thinking about calling someone a lunatic, psycho, or crazy take a moment to reflect on who you’re with and that it’s very likely that someone in the room suffers from a mental illness. You wouldn’t call your friend with depression crazy, would you?

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4 thoughts on “I’m not fucking crazy

  1. Good thought provoking post. Words are a powerful thing and we need to remember that. I hated hearing “that’s so gay”, it pisses me off. That being gay is stupid. I’m personally trying to retrain myself from saying “that’s retarded”. Not an easy habit to break.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’re darned right “Words CAN hurt me”. In fact, the attitude betrayed by those words reflects the terrible stigma against mental illness in our society. This attitude prevents a huge number of people to refuse to seek treatment, leading to endless tragedy affecting countless individuals and families. Thoughtless throw-away comments like this woman’s indirectly contribute to the unacceptable suicide rate; it’s high time people like her learn the truth and eschew their cruel stupidity. Such an unfair societal attitude toward a defenseless minority is a disaster that greatly diminishes that same society.

    Like

  3. Pingback: Je ne suis pas une cri*** de folle ! | Entre Les Deux Oreilles

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