How I Felt When I Realized a Lipstick Color I Liked Was Called 'Manic'

A few days ago I sent an email to my absolute favorite makeup company because I had fallen in love with a gorgeous red lip stick. This was before reading the label and noticing that the color was called “Manic.” Here was this little bullet of lipstick, and it had left me hurt, speechless and caught off guard. I live with bipolar disorder, so I know what it’s really like to be manic. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever lived through, and I will live through it over and over again despite medication and therapy. This is part of what I explained to the company when I emailed them. Companies are made of people, so to all the people out there who use mental health symptoms and diagnoses as adjectives, let me say this:

Just because you like your desk organized a certain way does not make you OCD. If you have a fleeting moment of stress, that’s not a panic attack. The weather and that microwave that doesn’t work all the time? They are not bipolar. The weather does not feel agony or fear or depression or anxiety or that kind of rage. Your microwave does not have a chance of attempting suicide. And being sad is not the same as being depressed. Saying you’re sad when you’re depressed is like saying you’re drowning because it’s raining out.

These words are not casual adjectives.  They are real struggles many people deal with their entire lives. These are things we fight and we manage, but we don’t get to be free of them.  It’s hard enough dealing with them without hearing them trivialized in a casual comment.

The stigma around mental illness is real and it’s thick. It’s breaking down piece by piece, but using these terms only builds that stigma back up again. This means fewer people stepping forward, fewer people getting the treatment they need and fewer safe spaces. Please don’t take away someone’s safe space just because you can’t think for a better word to use in a casual comment.

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Thinkstock photo via helloween.

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