STORY BY JENNY KRANE
This past summer, I worked a retail job at my local mall. My manager, who was a sweet, upbeat and emotionally conscious young mom, took me by surprise one day. I had just clocked in and asked how the day had been so far. She replied, “Oh, it’s been slit-your-wrists slow today.” Slit-your-wrists slow.
In a world of excessive political correctness standards, how are casual phrases like this socially acceptable?
Political correctness is not upheld in relation to mental disorders. Cutting jokes, like the comment from my manager, are widespread. The phrases, “I want to die,” and “I’m going to kill myself,” are heard too often in non-serious casual conversations.
While I’m sure comments like these are not meant to be offensive, they show insensitivity to those who struggle on a day-to-day basis.
The current standing definition of political correctness is as follows: “the avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.” Political correctness should be used to work toward stopping the marginalization of mental disorders.
A mental disorder is a mental or behavioral pattern that impairs the ability to function in ordinary life. Mental disorders are grouped into five major categories: anxiety disorders, mood disorders, psychotic disorders, dementias and eating disorders. Every mental disorder can be found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in four adults experiences mental illnesses in a given year. One in 17 adults live with severe mental disorders like schizophrenia, major depression and bipolar disorder.
An estimated 6.7 percent of American adults live with major depression, a widespread mood disorder. Off-handed comments involving depression and bipolar disorders need to stop.
Suicide takes the lives of 40,000 American every year, and many who attempt or commit suicide do not seek help. The problems these people deal with every day are neither funny nor casual.
Anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Eighteen percent of American adults have an anxiety disorder.
Jokes about being “OCD,” having PTSD, or having anxiety attacks need to end. These are extremely serious conditions.
Approximately 1.1 percent of American adults live with schizophrenia, a psychotic disorder. Schizophrenia is one of the most serious mental disorders and highly impacts an individual’s ability to function in society. Calling someone a “schizo” is not funny.
Up to 24 million people in the United States suffer from an eating disorder. According to the Mental Health Association in Forsyth County, one in 10 cases of anorexia nervosa leads to death. Eating disorders are not a joke.
ADD and ADHD are also found in DSM. Adults who struggle with ADD and ADHD were often undiagnosed as children and will remain undiagnosed, preventing them from getting help.
Saying, “I’m so ADD,” or “I’m so ADHD,” is very insensitive to those who truly struggle with these disorders.
Speaking as someone who has a mood disorder and an anxiety disorder, off-handed comments about mental disorders hurt. While I know they are not direct toward me specifically, I cannot help but get defensive. I struggle every day with my disorders, and I shouldn’t have to correct people on their colloquial language towards disorders they may or may not understand.
Slit-your-wrists slow. Really?