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It's 2018. Over time, society has changed the way we speak about one another and reinforced how important it is to be respectful.
For example, we avoid using the phrase "retarded" because it can be viewed as offensive and there are plenty of other words we can use to help get our point across.
I'm not one to get super into political correctness because sometimes that can be confusing and quite honestly, overwhelming. HOWEVER, I do think it's important for us to reconsider our word choices and re-evaluate the situations that make us feel a specific way. AKA—Think before we speak.
Let's take a look at the following phrases:
- "I had an anxiety attack today when I couldn't find my keys."
- *while joking with friends* "I'm just gonna go kill myself."
- *before walking into an exam* "I'm so anxious right now."
- "Ugh, I'm depressed after that Packers game last night."
You've probably heard similar phrases in the hallways at school or around the lunch table with your friends. In the moment, they seem pretty harmless, however they are contributing towards the stigma against mental illness.
Looking at #1 and #3 I'm sure we can all relate to these scenarios. Personally, I did a poll on Facebook asking if people get nervous/worried before a big test, speech, or other event.
Out of the 41 people who voted, only 2 responded with "no."
That leaves 95% of the people I surveyed feeling nervous/worried in both scenarios listed above**. You know why? Because those feelings are completely normal in those situations.
Anxiety (as a mental health disorder) is more than feeling nervous before an exam. It interferes with your daily life and those who suffer with anxiety have "reactions are exaggerated and unnecessarily strong" and "they cannot easily bring their anxiety under control." For supplemental information.
So let's try fixing those phrases:
#1: "I was worried I would be late for work when I couldn't find my keys earlier today."
#3: "I'm feeling nervous about this exam, but my studying should have me prepared."
All it takes is a split second to reconsider our feelings and how we want to portray them.
Example #2 might be a little bit more self explanatory. When joking around with friends, it can be easy to let things roll of the tongue rather quickly. When reevaluating the situation, perhaps it's just best not to say anything at all. Suicide most definitely isn't something to joke about, as there are plenty of people who have lost a loved one to suicide, or even attempted it themselves.
Lastly, example #4 is definitely something that's said (at least here in Wisconsin). As a Packers fan, I can definitely agree that it's disappointing to see a favorite team lose an important game. And that's just it, it's disappointing, saddening, or upsetting. But to say that it makes one depressed is to assume that depression is something that has a cause, and that isn't always the case. Just like anxiety, depression is a mental illness. It's impact on daily life is more than simply being upset about a football game. For me, depression means, not being able to get out of bed in the morning, skipping class to sleep, not wanting to be around my friends, and not finding motivation to do my work. Clinical depression is persistent. It doesn't go away the following week when the Packers win. It takes treatment and lots of support.
While the terms "anxious" and "depressed" can be used according to their dictionary definitions, I think we should all take a step back, and find other words to describe our feelings. When using either of these words, let's use them to raise awareness instead!
If you have been experiencing the symptoms listed in either of the links below, I encourage you to seek help! Talking to your doctor and getting a proper diagnosis can change the way you feel, help you live a better life, and erase more stigma!
It's 2018. Let's use our manners and be more mindful.
Clinically depressed but always blessed,
Read a similar article, "Stop Confusing Your Nerves With Having Anxiety."
**Results could vary based on larger survey