At two distinct times in my life, I was non compos mentis, which in Latin means not having control of one’s mind.
Rest assured, I am totally compos mentis right now.
Yet every day I’m reminded of the agony of losing my mind. First off, people use the word crazy incorrectly. Each time, it reminds me of times of personal despair and anguish. Second, words like nuts, crackers, bananas, and loony are commonly used words that stigmatize people with mental illness. For me, they’re more reminders of the dark nights of my soul.
Work is crazy. The weather is crazy. That guy drives me nuts. That woman is bananas. C’mon, people! The English language is rich with alternate adjectives.
We need to stop using words that are harmful and make a conscious effort to refrain from using certain language.
Dr. Gail Saltz, psychiatrist and author, shares my beliefs. In her book The Power of Different: The Link Between Disorder and Genius she offers a suggestion to society:
“Stop shaming those who are in the struggle, and banish words such as crazy and nuts from our speech.”
Hurtful words have become common in today’s vernacular. I wish I could change the world, but I can’t. I can, however, make thoughtful word choices in my own speech, and hey, maybe I can influence one or two blog readers to change their way of thinking.