“I can’t do that, it gives me anxiety”
“No, I’m really so OCD”
“I’m so depressed”
“I’d rather die than fail this test”
“I’m such an alcoholic”
“You are so bipolar!”
“Are you on crack?”
“Get over it, stop being so ‘dramatic’”
It seems to be the trend of the century that when someone lacks compassion or education on a subject, it’s okay to make a joke of it. When I hear the symptoms of mental illness thrown around carelessly in societies daily jargon, I feel hopeless.
If it’s not okay to joke about terminal illness, why is it okay to joke about mental illness?
How can someone without Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder make jokes or passive comments about the hours of torment that someone with the illness really has to live with. Why can’t our society grasp the truth behind addiction and face the fact that drugs aren’t ‘fun’, but are a gateway into a life full of isolation and torture. Why are eating disorders still seen as an extreme diet or a ‘glamour’ disorder? Why don’t our youth feel like asking for help is a better option than ending their life? Why?
It’s easer to be alone then to be labeled as unfit.
The answer is simple; we live in a society that refuses to feel uncomfortable. People who wouldn’t dare to use a racial or homophobic slur, have no issue throwing around the word ‘crazy’ or ‘psycho’. It’s easier to place blame on someone whose mind “just isn’t right” instead of addressing or exploring the complex source of the illness. The topic of suicide or self harm is uncomfortable because far too many people can’t understand why it happens. So, what is the best way to deal with the feeling of discomfort? Jokes and labels.
It’s time for our society to demand zero tolerance of stigma.
Speaking out shouldn’t be oversharing, it should be empowering and educating. No one should listen to a rape survivor or a recovered addict speak and feel ‘uncomfortable’. It’s time that we begin to erase that excuse, just as other brave groups of people in our society fight to erase race and gender inequality.
Our society progresses and thrives in the times where tradition and beliefs were questioned and people were made uncomfortable.
So forget a Christmas present or a New Years resolution, I’d like 2017 to be the year of the free. I’d like to see those who feel trapped by their emotions or trapped within the confines of their illness to feel like they will get better because they are accepted, loved, and lifted up by a society of those willing to help. It’s time, not next year, not the year after that, but now is the time that society erases the stigma and becomes a society full of support.