It has become common practice to throw around clinical terms in a casual way. When we’re particular about how we organize our home we say we’re “OCD,” when in fact we’re just organized. When someone ignores us or is inconsiderate of our feelings, we call them a “narcissist.” We turn them into a bad person, when the truth is likely much more complex.
The issue with using these terms in this way is that we’re placing clinical definitions on people —including ourselves— who may not have clinical issues.
So let’s unpack some of these terms:
Bipolar is not changing your mood. We all shift moods throughout the day. We’re happy. We’re sad. We’re frustrated. Bipolar is clinically defined as having an issue with going from a manic to a depressive state. It has nothing to do with the range of emotions you may experience throughout the day.
OCD is not being organized. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is when you have compulsive thoughts or behaviors that are seen as unreasonable. For example, when you have OCD and you don’t organize, you feel anxious or depressed. You have some sort of repetitive behavior that you must do. It goes far beyond a desire to keep a clean home.
Narcissistic is not being a mean person. Narcissism is a set of behaviors where a person has a complete disregard for people, not just you. They lack emotion in multiple situations, and they are concerned solely with themselves.
Depressed is not feeling sad on a given day. Depression is a set of behaviors. Sadness is just one behavior. When it is accompanied by issues with sleeping, eating, or concentration then that may indicate depression.
Anxious is not being excited or nervous. Anxiety is being worried about something in the past, present, or future in a way that is disruptive to your ability to function.
Having a better understanding of what these terms actually mean can help us to be more mindful with our language and ensure that we don’t place inappropriate labels on one another.
What I’m Watching
Startup is a show about four strangers forced to work together on a cryptocurrency startup. There are three seasons and it is available to stream on Netflix.
What I’m Reading
The Rise of Therapy Speak, by Katy Waldman. This article featured in the New Yorker explores how clinical terms (like the ones listed above) made their way into our daily language.
What labels have you attached to yourself?
When you unpack those labels do they actually fit?
Did something in this newsletter really speak to you? Leave a comment and let me know. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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