The Irrational Mind

Do Not Trivialize Mental Illness

Today, the popular website Buzzfeed published a cutesy article titled 22 Things Only People With OCD Will Understand.

The article is complete trash, listing off all the old tropes of hand-washing, putting things in order, and cleaning in a way that says, “Isn’t it funny and quirky how we do these things? OMG, sooo OCD!”

OCD is a debilitating mental illness and should be treated with the same respect that is given to cancer, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis.

People with untreated severe OCD are unable to maintain regular jobs, and are incapable of leaving the house due to the intensity of their obsessions and resulting compulsions.

Somehow, society decided that mental illness is ok to trivialize and joke about.

“I have such major mood swings, I’m sooo bipolar, lol.”

“Dude he’s like a different person every day, total schizo.”

“Haha yeah I like my lipsticks ordered by level of pinkness, I’m super OCD about it!”

“He broke up with me and I’m like, depressed and suicidal.”

If you complain that jokes like these are insensitive and insulting, you are told that you are being overly sensitive.

Don’t accept that.

Let’s try this with another disease.

“I’m just sooo tired all the time, it’s like I totally have lupus.”

“Man I couldn’t even finish my lifts today, bro, it’s like I’ve got muscular dystrophy!”

“I’m as shaky as Michael J. Fox getting ready for this presentation, I’m totally Parkinsons-ing today!”

God that was insulting, wasn’t it? I am grateful that I don’t have any of these disease, and I’m offended. The most these “jokes” would ever get out of a normal person would be an awkward chuckle, followed by eyes being cut at the other people in the group to express theĀ oh my god, did he really just say that? sensation everyone would have.

It needs to become commonplace in society to call out people that make jokes about mental illness. It will make people uncomfortable, of course, but it will be because they realize they have done something wrong. I encourage everyone to try this the next time you hear someone make a joke about a mental illness:

Friend: “My textbooks are out of order, ugh, drives me crazy cause I’m so OCD.”

You: “That’s not OCD.”

Friend: “Lol, what do you mean, it’s just a joke about being a neat and orderly freak like those OCD people.”

You: “OCD is a serious mental illness that severely impacts many people’s daily life. Cleanliness and orderliness are some people’s obsessions and compulsions, but not everyone experiences that. You are really downplaying people’s struggles.”

Your friends will probably just roll their eyes at this, but the next time it comes up, they will catch themselves making the joke, even if they still continue with it.

It’s important to spread awareness, even in your everyday lives. Even when reading silly internet articles.

2 thoughts on “Do Not Trivialize Mental Illness

  1. Elisabeth Hall

    I agree I suffer from anxiety and ADHD. If is fairly severe to the point of interfering with personal relationships. So many people joke about ADHD and others refuse to even believe it exists. So thank you for this article.

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