Why Language Matters: Crazy, Insane, and why protection can be an insult.

Thanks to the Utne Reader for making this image so I didn't have to.

Illustrating both my points about insanity and delicate flowerness

I am goddamn insane. I take medications for it, but the fact remains that I will have to deal with my mental illness for the rest of my life. It’s chronic, it’s incurable, and on some things, it makes me rationally irrational (mainly about my own self worth and value to others and myself). But hell, I deal. I eat mostly well, I try to exercise, I try to avoid things that trigger my depression and 99.9% of the time, I remember to take my meds.

Right now, I’m going through a relatively good, if stressful time due to job and relationship bullshit, but I tend to feel like I need to discuss language sometimes. I am on the goddamn crazy train, but now I have a conductor, and it’s me with a little help from my chemical friend (effexor).

For me, as a crazy person, shielding me from ableist language (especially when it comes to mental illness) is pointing out that I am different and my delicate brain meats can’t handle my mental illness being referred to in non-respectful terms. You know what? Say that some politicians are insane and are idiots. You aren’t insulting me for having something I can’t control. You’re insulting someone who clearly has left rationality behind despite all evidence that they are of sound mind.

Here is the important distinction: Don’t insult me personally because I have a mental illness. Don’t assume I need your protection from words that might refer to me. Don’t blame my mental illness for me being a blunt bitch, since my mental illness doesn’t cause bluntness or bitchiness(it actually causes flat affect for me, which turns me into the monster of “meh”). Don’t blame my mental illness for me saying something you dislike. Don’t blame my mental illness for my inability to match my shoes to my jacket, because that’s just me wanting to wear these things together.

There comes a point when being careful about words gets to a stupid degree and much of it comes from a place where you feel you need to protect the poor, mildly different, people from things that may upset them or words that may apply. Fuck that.

I don’t need your protection from words. I’m not a delicate flower, and if something triggers me, well, I live and learn to avoid those triggers if possible and do what I need to do to get well as soon as possible. That’s called being an adult, living in the world. Trying to protect me from every mention of my insanity makes me feel like a child. I know and accept what I have; Why can’t you accept that I know how to deal with it?

David Furtelle briefly discussed a related issue over at ManBoobz.

Next time on Sometimes Language matters: Why, unlike crazy, gendered slurs suck a lot.

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About Dee

Dee is a hardworking twenty-something working as a medical librarian in Texas. Her ability to go on tangents and create non-sensical metaphors is almost legendary.
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