No Joking Matter: It’s Time to Stop the Casual References

Hurelayn Abdu, Editor- In - Chief

“I’m so OCD”
“This [blank] is bipolar.”
“I just want to kill myself.”

These are all statements that I’ve heard plenty of times, and may have even said myself at one time. However, I’ve come to realize how problematic statements like these are.
Let’s start with the most common statement in this group: “I’m so OCD.” People often say this following the simplest tasks such as organizing or even when ripping the fringe off of notebook paper before turning in an assignment. However, what these people don’t realize is that OCD, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a very serious condition that is far more severe than being a neat freak. In fact, it affects about two percent of the U.S. population. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), people with OCD experience symptoms of obsessions and compulsions that can interfere with their work, school, and personal relationships. When people compare being OCD to being neat, they make it seem as if being OCD is something that those who are afflicted with the disorder can easily control, but they cannot.

Second, the list is the ever so common: “this [weather] is so bipolar” or “This [person] is so bipolar.” The reality is that bipolar disorder is far more than the weather changing drastically or a person acting, unlike their usual self for a day. Bipolar Disorder is characterized by a combination of manic and depressive states that can last anywhere from a couple of days to months at a time. This affects over five million adults in the U.S. reports NIMH.

“I just want to kill myself” or “kms,” is certainly the most severe and problematic flippant comment heard among teenagers. On social media or even in-person, teens often joke about or speak glibly about suicide, whether it be after failing a test or going through an embarrassing situation. However, the issue is far from comedic and can serve as a trigger for someone who is contemplating suicide. Each year, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, over 44,000 Americans die from suicide and for every successful suicide, there are twenty-five suicide attempts.

When people use mental illness as a joke or as a weak metaphor they demean those who actually struggle with these serious issues and disorders. They also undermine the struggles that many face as they battle through their daily lives. Using one’s illness as a punchline is wrong, which is why our youth must start thinking before we speak and consider what others may be going through. While something like this might be just a joke to you, to someone else it can be a painful reminder of their past or a jab at the daily struggles they face.