When common figures of speech become inappropriate
Looking for the right words to express your frustration at your third midterm this week?
Stressed about the latest essay proposal and don’t know how to properly complain? We all do it, after all!
Remember not to use mental illnesses you don’t have in efforts to explain how you’re feeling.
This midterm season, be mindful of your word choices.
You are not depressed, OCD, or bipolar until you actually have to deal with the real connotations of those mental illnesses.
“I’m so OCD!”
Maybe you mean to say “I like to keep things neat and organized,” or even “I feel more comfortable when everything is lined up.”
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is more than keeping your books in a straight line or pouring into your daily planner. People with OCD fit into various strains of the disorder and though keeping tidy may be an effect, it is not what the mental illness actually is.
People with OCD have a cycle of having an obsession and seeking temporary relief through a compulsion. For example, people with the “cleaning” strain may have an obsession that they’ll disease themselves unless they keep everything tidy. The compulsion may be to wash their hands continuously until they bleed.
Wanting your books to be in a straight line or having all your pen caps facing the same way is not obsessive compulsive, even if you find comfort in those actions. Until you are faced with not having a choice to do these things, you’re just a tidy person.
“This review is so depressing.”
Try “I’m so disheartened by this review.” Everyone has periods of feeling hopeless, but depression affects much more than your mood towards a specific topic or activity.
Depression can affect appetite, sleep patterns, concentration and relationships.
People with depression often lose interest in things that they used to love. They can’t control their thoughts, no matter how hard they try.
As boring as reviewing study notes might be, it doesn’t make you depressed. It makes you bored, frustrated, or even sad. It does not make you depressed.
“These midterms have got me so bipolar!”
These midterms may have you moody. You might be snappy and grumpy one minute and laughing with your roommates the next, but this isn’t what bipolar disorder is.
Bipolar disorder consists of two main parts: mania and depression. There are several different types of bipolar disorder, none of which are characterized by moodiness over a specific activity, like studying.
Most strains of bipolar take a period of time to cycle from mania to depression and back.
It’s highly unlikely that going from snippy remarks to smiling is bipolar.
You’re just stressed, which is making your moods different from their regular patterns.
“I had a panic attack when I walked into the lecture hall!”
Did you feel like you were choking? Like the world was going to end around you? Were you tingling or were you depersonalized? Most importantly, did you fear imminent death?
It’s unlikely you had a panic attack. What you were probably feeling was nerves.
It’s natural to be uncomfortable heading into an exam. Exams, especially exams worth a large percentage of your grade, are likely to make most students at least a little bit upset or on edge. However, having a panic attack is something else entirely.
It’s not the fear of failing a course or self-doubt that you don’t know enough. It’s a crushing feeling of dread that you don’t think you’ll survive. You likely never thought that exam would kill you.
Be mindful of your word choices. Don’t trivialize what’s a huge part of someone else’s life, especially if you don’t understand it —you never know who might overhear what you’re saying.
If you are currently having real difficulties with your mental illness, make sure to practice self-care and take advantage of the resources Laurier has for you. No one has to face their mental illness alone.