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The Word That Made My Son With Bipolar Disorder Suddenly Change the Channel

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When my son quickly changed the channel the other evening, my heart sank.

Our TV is tuned to the Disney channel all the time. I love how they keep with the times but still have wholesome programming. We were watching “Dog with a Blog” and the son in the show, Tyler, called someone “crazy.”

I know, people say that all the time, but here I am, with an autistic son, who also has bipolar disorder. He is currently in a severe depressive cycle and very sensitive. To hear this term used as a joke really bothered him. I used this to get him to open up to me.

“Why did you change it?” I asked. “Because Tyler said ‘crazy.’ I don’t like that, Momma. Do people think that I’m crazy?”

So now you see why it upset us. When I was growing up, kids called everything “gay.” If something was stupid or you didn’t like it, it was “gay.” As a teen, I saw no harm in this. The thought never crossed my mind that it could hurt someone. Until someone in my family, whom happens to be homosexual, expressed hurt in how I threw that term around. I never used it again.

I reach out and divulge details of our journey because we want to help change the world. We want parents and other children to know that they aren’t alone in their struggles. We also want to educate our youth that some words should not be used an adjective.

It may not hurt you to hear it, but I promise you it’s hurting someone else.

This goes beyond just “crazy” and “gay.” Words like “retarded,” “short bus,” “insane,” “cray cray,” these words hurt!

If you’re a tall, skinny person you wouldn’t want someone referring to you as “that tall, skinny kid.” You would want to be referred to by your name, or something positive about you. Same goes for someone with a mental illness. They don’t want to be called “crazy,” or “cray cray.” Nor do they want to hear you calling others that.

“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is Bull! Words hurt, sometimes more than a punch to the gut.

We are only as good as the examples we set for our children. So as a mother, I beg you to think about the words you are using as an adjective. You set the example for your children. If they hear you say them, chances are they are repeating them.

The Mighty is asking the following: What was the moment that made you realize it was time to face your mental illness? What was your next step? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our “Share Your Story” page for more about our submission guidelines.

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Originally published: June 8, 2015
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