Editorial: Health hyperbole can be inappropriate, hurtful

Think about past few months worth of conversation, how many times has the phrase “oh I’m so OCD”, “I’m feeling pret­ty depressed”, or “gosh I’ve got a lot of anxiety right now” been heard in passing? Either the rate of diagnosis for mental illness­es has skyrocketed, or we have made a societal habit of using completely incorrect terms.

The blatant and abundant mis­use of this clinical terminology fills me with a rage so hot that I could burn a hole through a dic­tionary with nothing but focus and my glare.

Words have power and when we lightly toss around these words it completely invalidates people who actually have anxi­ety, OCD, or bipolar disorder.

So no, a person does not have OCD because they like to color coordinate their sock drawer, or if their room is really neat, some actual symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder include excessive hoarding and inces­sant disturbing thoughts like the thought of murdering a close family member.

Anxiety isn’t just feeling ner­vous before the big interview. A person diagnosed with anxiety might experience the following: heart palpatations, shortness of breath, nausea, and fear of im­pending doom.

Many who have suffered an anxiety attack without knowing what these symptoms mean as­sume that they are dying.

Also depression is not just be­ing sad when sad things happen. Its an over arching, all consum­ing weight that makes life in­credibly difficult.

As a nice rule, next time someone goes to say something and plans on using a term for mental illness, instead replace that term with a different phys­ical illness. For example lets replace the term depression with something people take serious­ly, “Look I know Jim has “can­cer.” we all have a little cancer but he just needs to toughen up and work through it.”

See how absolutely awful that sounds? That is what you sound like when treat mental illness as a fad, instead of, you know, AN ILLNESS.

When we use these terms as a way to seem “cute” or “quirky” it makes it that much more dif­ficult for people who actually suffer from these disorders to be taken seriously.

These illnesses, like any oth­er, are treated with medication and therapy, they are not just something that you can brush off as an “ecentricity.”

The brain is an organ, and when something goes wrong with it, it needs to be treated and taken seriously. We wouldn’t tell someone with liver failure to buck up, grin, and bear it. So why do we treat mental illness this way?

If we want to improve the dia­log on mental illness and reduce the stigma surrounding them, a great place to start will be in our everyday conversations.