Trivializing Mental Illness: Here’s How To Not Do It in 2019!

The neurotypical's guide to understanding mental illness.

You’ll be going about your day as per usual, feeling marginally satisfied with all the little things that you’ve accomplished; maybe you watched a cute video of small animals or babies, waddling about or a meme that put you in exactly the right frame of mind needed to function. Your food tastes better, maybe someone complimented you on your way here – all in all, a comparatively good day – until it was ruined by none other than an average, uninformed neurotypical who cannot wait to make everything about themselves.

Maybe your desk is a little cluttered, pens and papers strewn over the tabletop. Maybe your files aren’t arranged in a system that might be familiar to other people. Let’s just assume that things are a little out of order around you and you’re just not free to deal with it what with these deadlines looming over your head.

In swoops the uninformed neurotypical to your rescue. Not.

With a dramatic exclamation, they’ll start organizing your desk, your books, your files, constantly feigning shock and trauma as if dropped down straight from a Shakespearean tragedy. After successfully cleaning out everything according to a system only understandable to them, these people will sigh wearily, making sure the back of their hand rests perfectly against their crinkled forehead.

“OMG, I’m so OCD, I just couldn’t stand that mess, ughhh.”

Day ruined.

The problem with such statements is that they trivialize serious psychological disorders by making them seem like personality quirks, watering them down until everyone forgets the trauma and toll these illnesses can take on someone who is actually suffering from them. This trivialization isn’t only applicable to OCD but to a variety of other illnesses such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, bipolar disorder etc.

What we need in 2019 is to put a stop to any such exclamations that we issue for the sake of dramatizing our lives – remember, not everything is about you all the time and learn to say that you might not be informed enough to give an opinion on certain things.

It’s okay to be neurotypical as long as you’re not an uninformed one.

Imagine if all of us began diagnosing ourselves with tuberculosis everytime we coughed ten times in a row? Imagine if we went around telling everybody about our illness as if it was a crutch for our personality as if it made us more unique and interesting than we really are? How ridiculous would that be, wouldn’t it. The same goes for psychological disorders.

Stop saying you’re depressed if you have been having a bad day or have cried over something that’s sad. You’re unhappy, not depressed. There’s a huge difference between the two.

Stop saying you’re anorexic just because you somehow missed your meals today. Anorexia is not a lifestyle or a choice; it’s an illness. The same goes for bulimia, binge-eating two times every month does not mean you might be suffering from an eating disorder.

Stop saying you had an anxiety attack if you started sweating right before an exam or any other event that is bound to cause nervousness. That’s adrenaline in your body, not an anxiety attack, not a panic attack just simple hormones doing their job. You’re not bipolar if you went into an uncontrollable rage the other day, again learn the nuances, subtleties and the symptoms associated with these illnesses.

You’re not suffering from OCD if you clean out your room once every blue moon or even if you do it on an everyday basis; remember folks, OCD is characterized by behaviors, compulsions, and obsessions that hinder your ability to function normally or cause you significant anguish. It’s not quirky, it’s not a personality trait – it’s a disorder, treat it like that.

In 2019, please refrain from talking about mental illnesses in a way different to physical illnesses; think about them in the same terms and don’t trivialize them as it may cause a lot of pain to those genuinely suffering from them. Think twice before you speak, educate yourself and don’t poke your nose into conversations that involve topics you’re not informed about. Sometimes listening and not talking incessantly can be the greatest thing you do for society.

Signed,

An informed neurotypical.

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