February 20th, 2021


(don't) call me crazy: 33 voices start the conversation about mental health

Right when I was making my new year's resolutions, the US capitol was violently stormed by... who? trump supporters? domestic terrorists? crazy assholes? what definition you use depends on your perspective, but once again I heard commentary about how we should not use "ableist language" to describe events in the news and I couldn't figure out what that meant. I know we don't call things "lame" anymore, "psycho" is a 90s fad, and the r-word is so bad that it is now only called the r-word. But I couldn't explain why, so I'm reading up.

I found this book: (don't) call me crazy: 33 voices start the conversation about mental health and thought oh that's perfect it's got a title right there about how we shouldn't call people crazy! In my simple mind I thought maybe it'll be really easy for me, the chapters would be laid out as even reasons and bullet talking points why I should not call people crazy. But that's not what it did. Instead it was stories from a LOT of different and very informative perspectives on mental health, each chapter a complete story that just gave you a lot to think about without telling us readers how to feel. It was not an instruction manual.

A few things that hit me:
- You realize just how COMMON mental health challenges are in our world, the book had so many topics to cover. Depression, bipolar disorder, OCD, substance abuse, PTSD, self-harm.

- Ableist words have been used to "other" people for so long. They are dismissive. They're our quick way of saying, "That person has problems that I cannot/will not help solve, I'm putting up a wall to eliminate confusion."

- So when someone does something bad or violent, like storm the capitol, and we call them crazy, we might say it because we are dismissing them. But to someone who's been called crazy because their brain is wired a little differently, the word is loaded. It comes with a connotation - the same label was just used for both violent conspiracy theorists, and depression sufferers. They are not the same at all, but if they're looped together neither of them is listened to. There's no room for discussion or critical thinking.

I HOPE I'm explaining this correctly, I might not be and am open to corrections. Not everyone in the book is against labels, in fact most of the book is NOT about ableist language, it's about getting help, recognizing your needs, knowing yourself, and most important... getting society to listen to you and adapt so a wider spectrum of humans can participate and contribute. We all know that we all benefit when that happens.

I am getting closer to understanding why I need to be more creative in describing why I disagree with someone's actions, even if they are criminals, and avoid the labels.

This is the same activism I am used to reading - a minority group wants us to hear their stories, look at them as individuals, and have their voices amplified. Listening is never bad.