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How I Feel When I Hear the 'Little Things' People Say About Mental Illness

I notice when I hear people use “bipolar” as an insult.

I feel my stomach turn when I hear someone in my English class say “anorexic” is a synonym for “thin” and my professor agrees.

My eating disorder sparks its match whenever I hear someone say how “good” they’ve been for eating only certain foods.

I feel like a fraud when I hear I’m supposed to promote a “21 Day Sugar Detox” at the fitness center I work at, as if I’m OK with the diet culture that burdens every single day of my life.

I feel defeated when I hear the calorie counts at restaurants being discussed, as if meaningless numbers should dictate what you eat.

I remember the amount of pain I’ve felt when I hear someone say they’re going to kill themselves, even if to them it’s “just a joke.”

I remember all the wonderful people I’ve met in psychiatric hospitals when I hear people who have never opened a DSM proclaim that the president is “mentally ill,” as if it is synonymous with being a bad person.

I remember witnessing the struggle of those wonderful people when I hear people talk about “mental patients” as if they are characters on a show rather than human beings.

So please know that as someone with mental illness, I hear these things loud and clear. And I get it, these are passing comments — little things — most people don’t think twice about. But even now as “mostly recovered,” I struggle with situations and conversations others may think to be mundane, and I don’t think I’m alone in this.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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Thinkstock photo via berdsigns.