Nothing aggravates me more than people who think it's 'cool' and 'fashionable' to suffer from a mental illness when they don't. For example, when someone says, 'I'm so depressed today' because Pret ran out of bacon baps, or people who say they just had a panic attack when you were there and they really didn't have an actual panic attack, or people who say they have anxiety because they've seen it on TV. When someone is truly suffering from a mental illness, they are trapped in a waking nightmare.
This article that I came across this morning refers to the use of the word 'quirky' as a way to describe someone with a mental health problem.
Synonyms of quirky include eccentric, idiosyncratic, unconventional, unorthodox, unusual, off-centre, strange, bizarre, weird, peculiar, odd, freakish, outlandish and offbeat. As if it's not difficult enough to deal with a mental illness! Suffering from mental illness can be life-changing and debilitating. Not 'quirky'. Mental illness is NOT a personality trait.
I've written many articles on mental health in the workplace and the importance of educating employers so that they're well-equipped to support their employees. By labelling mental illness with traits, we rob it of all seriousness. By labelling mental illness with traits, we are telling bosses everywhere that mental health is not as important as physical health. By labelling mental illness with traits, we insult the people whose lives are turned upside down by mental illness with each diagnosis, with each relapse and with each recovery.
People who are open about their mental illness open up with great bravery and it's to be celebrated. Of course, you can never prove whether or not a person has a mental illness, and some might describe themselves in this way as a way of dealing with it and I can understand that, but the article below has a really good point. I believe the topic of mental illness should always be approached with sensitivity and that includes the language we use. Read it to find out more:
‘Quirkiness’ is used to describe someone who’s eccentric. Someone who dresses cool, likes underground music and has coloured hair. Someone who doesn’t define themselves or who doesn’t follow the rules. You know, every teen on Tumblr ever. But you know what’s not quirky? Living with a mental illness. I recently saw a tweet from someone describing living with depression as being ‘quirky’. It seemed like this person didn’t really understand the severity of depression – or that they saw it more as a personality trait than an illness. Whatever the reason, the description is dangerous.