Kelly Douglas

@kelly-douglas | staff
Mighty LeaderSuper Contributor
Kelly Douglas is a Contributor Editor for The Mighty and is also the Community Leader for The Mighty’s Recovery Warriors community. She graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2016 with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Law and Society and is excited to share her knowledge with others in recovery. Kelly is passionate about sharing her experiences with others through writing and is the also the Senior Editor for Unwritten, an online magazine dedicated to millennial life. Her work has also been featured on Her Campus, HelloGiggles, POPSUGAR, Project Wednesday, HerStory, Finding Bohemia, Thought Catalog, YourTango, Shape, ScreenRant, MSN and Yahoo!, as well as in the “Written By…” anthology. When she is not writing, editing, or supporting fellow Mighties in recovery, Kelly enjoys listening to music, watching true crime shows, and cuddling all the cats. Follow her on Instagram @kellychristine333 or on Twitter @kellywrites333.

How DARVO Can Help You Recognize Emotional Abuse

The acronym “DARVO” has been floating around the internet recently, and it’s sparking important conversations about recognizing emotional abuse. DARVO is a tactic many emotional abusers use to project their behavior onto their victims and gaslight emotional abuse survivors into believing they’re the ones who need to change their behavior — not their abusers. DARVO stands for “ Deny , Attack , and Reverse Victim and Offender .” Let’s break this down further: Deny: When an abuser is confronted about their behavior toward an abuse survivor, they may deny that they ever said or did what the survivor claims they did. This first portion of DARVO is a form of gaslighting — or making a person doubt the reality of their experiences. Attack: After denying that they ever participated in the offending action or actions, an emotional abuser may attack the victim of their abuse for mentioning that their actions were hurtful. They may try to put their victim down to dissuade them from attempting to discuss the abuse again or bring up unrelated incidents that paint the victim in a negative light. They may also say the abuse survivor is “too sensitive” or “can’t take a joke” to begin to make the survivor believe they alone are at fault. Reverse Victim and Offender: An emotional abuser may then try to make themselves out to be the victim of their own victim’s confrontation — no matter how calmly an emotional abuse survivor attempts to discuss the issue. The abuser may say that their victim is “hurting their feelings” or claim that the abuse survivor is “attacking” them for expressing how they feel about being attacked. The abuse survivor may then feel guilty for “hurting” their abuser and apologize for doing absolutely nothing wrong because they may genuinely believe that they are in the wrong for feeling hurt by something their abuser did or said. What DARVO looks like in conversation: Emotional abuse survivor: “I felt hurt when you told me that I’ll never be smart enough to have the career I want. It made me feel sad, hopeless, and unintelligent.” Emotional abuser: “I never said that. I said you have to work hard in school to succeed in any career. Don’t put words in my mouth!” (Deny) Emotional abuse survivor: “I remember you said that. It was after I finished studying on Monday. I told you how hard my classes are, and that’s how you responded.” Emotional abuser: “ I’m so tired of you always trying to accuse me of saying rude things about you! You never respect my opinions, and you always start drama with me. When will you stop being so sensitive?” (Attack) Emotional abuse survivor: “I’m sorry. I was just mad about the conversation we had about school. I hurt your feelings, and that was wrong of me.” Emotional abuser: “Well, I’m glad you at least see I’m hurt! You need to quit telling me I said things I never would have said. And you probably told all your friends what a horrible person I am too — even though you made this whole thing up! I’m so tired of you bullying me all the time!” (Reverse Victim and Offender) Emotional abuse survivor: “You’re not a horrible person, and you’re right — I should never have brought this up. Maybe I remembered it wrong. I’m so sorry for hurting you.” At first, the emotional abuse survivor in this conversation politely mentioned their experiences and how their abuser made them feel, but they ended up apologizing to their abuser because their abuser convinced them they are abusive instead. Emotional abusers will often deny that their actions were hurtful and deflect their victims away from the issue at hand. They’ll often use blaming and shaming tactics on their victims to make those who survive their abuse feel bad for them and may even try to garner apologies from their victims by portraying themselves as victims of their own victims’ actions. If you’re an emotional abuse survivor, you may legitimately feel like an abuser yourself after having so many conversations in which you’re made to feel like you’ve done something hurtful. Once you recognize others using DARVO on you, though, you may start to realize that you aren’t the problem. Abusers may use this strategy to twist conversations about their own hurtful actions in their favor because they don’t want to confront the reality that they did anything wrong or because they want survivors to remain afraid to speak up. If it doesn’t feel safe to speak any further with your emotional abuser about how their actions affected you, you don’t have to initiate those conversations. After these situations take place, try to remind yourself that you are a survivor of emotional abuse, your experiences are real and valid, and DARVO is meant to illegitimately convince you otherwise. If you need help remembering that you aren’t at fault, reach out to a safe, supportive person or call an emotional abuse support line if you can. The abuse you face is not your fault, you are entitled to feel hurt and upset about it, and you are never alone.

Writing About Health and Struggling With Disability Pride

“Some days, I want to scream,” I typed, fearful of how my friend would respond. But I pressed on — albeit hesitantly — until the text box on my phone filled with a litany of complaints. “I get so tired of my body not doing what I want it to do.” “I get tired of having full use of only one hand.” “I hate hiking because I always lose my footing going downhill.” “I hate feeling self-conscious about being barefoot around other people.” And then I pressed “send,” wondering if my friend would judge me for having days when I absolutely despise living with multiple health conditions despite openly writing about them on the internet. It’s those days when I feel like a living, breathing dichotomy. I’ve been disabled since birth, and I’m mentally ill. I’ve spent five years writing about embracing my medical life and encouraging others to accept their health conditions, but sometimes, I feel my own internalized ableism taking over. I feel angry at myself for not being able-bodied, frustrated with myself for struggling with anxiety and depression, and unhappy with myself for simply not being the most healthy, “productive” member of society.  I cry and I fret and I hurl self-loathing insults. I want to be anyone but who I am — anyone who doesn’t know medical jargon or has never needed to be on medication or who doesn’t have a clue that a tibialis tendon is a real body part and not something surgeons shout about on “Grey’s Anatomy.” I want to escape from my life — my medical life — until the storm finally settles, and I finally feel OK with being who I am. And then I carry on with life until the inevitable happens — I get frustrated with my body and annoyed with my mind, and yet again, I break down about how much I wish I were healthy. Cry. Rant. Self-soothe. Repeat in a few months. I constantly live with the pressure to not feel this way. I write about my health — sometimes in extremely positive ways. As a contributor editor for The Mighty, I even edit others’ health stories — but how would writers feel if they knew their editor hated living with her own health conditions some days? Some people I know and love have gently steered me towards the disconnect between my writing and advocacy and my self-image, and I’m fully aware I’m not exactly a glowing representation of unconditional love for my own disabled body and mentally ill mind — even though I write about the journey to reaching that point. I feel like a hypocrite for encouraging others to love themselves with their medical conditions and still having days when I absolutely hate the way my own health affects my body and my life. But maybe that just makes me human. As Disability Pride Month draws closer and closer, I find myself questioning how I can so easily rant to a friend about my health one day and celebrate my body, mind, and community just a week later. How can anything I write about learning to love my body, accepting my mental state, or putting health challenges into perspective ring true when I’ve shown others that some days, I’m just not there yet? How do I share everything my disability has given me and still mourn everything it’s taken away? How do I celebrate the years of work the disability community has put into fighting for equality and know that I sometimes treat myself like a second-class citizen because of my fraught relationship with my body? And how do I expect anyone to take me seriously as a health writer who absolutely hates certain aspects of her health? I wish I could wake up tomorrow on the first day of Disability Pride Month and feel proud of how much my body’s survived and my mind’s fought through. I wish I could look at myself in the mirror and see the resilient woman who carried herself through a childhood in the medical world, an adolescence fraught with low self-esteem and negative body image, and a young adulthood marked by a series of mental health struggles. I wish I could recognize just how much life with a disability has taught me about respect, kindness, and empathy for others and forgiveness for myself. But writing about my health doesn’t mean I’ll be able to easily take pride in it — and maybe that’s OK. Being a health writer doesn’t make me immune to the self-loathing, anger, frustration, and internalized ableism that often accompanies life with a health condition. I write about my health, I struggle to embrace my medical life, and I wonder if I’ll be able to muster up a shred of disability pride to get me through July. But for the first time since I first started sharing my health story, I’m meeting myself where I am emotionally — and I know that’s just fine.

10 Tips for the Person With Anxiety Who Wants to Use a Dating App

Finding the perfect match on a dating app can feel daunting for anyone, but using dating apps may feel especially overwhelming for people with anxiety. If you live with anxiety and want to try to find a partner on a dating app, here are 10 ways to manage your anxiety while swiping, chatting, and of course, trying to find love. 1. Include as much or as little information on your dating app profile as you’d like. You don’t have to fill out every category on every dating app profile you make if you don’t feel comfortable. Include anything you think a date would want or need to know about you, and ignore the rest. Creating your profile is the first step in online dating, so why not make yourself comfortable from the get-go? 2. Know what you like before you swipe. Before you start swiping, have a general idea of what you’re looking for. Do you want a hookup? A friend with benefits? A date for a special occasion? A relationship? Take inventory of the qualities you want your matches to have, too. If you know you’re into intelligent people with winning smiles and no fish photos on their profile, then don’t swipe on people whose profiles are full of photos of their latest fishing trip. Pay attention to what people’s profiles say, and think about whether or not you’d connect with them well before you swipe. 3. Don’t start conversations if you don’t feel comfortable. Unless you choose a dating app where a match of a certain gender is expected to start conversing, you don’t have to start any conversations with your matches. Seeing who reaches out to you and how they kick off a conversation can tell you a lot about what they’re looking for and how skilled they are at making connections with their matches. If you wait for someone else to start chatting with you, you can usually get a fairly immediate sense of whether they want a friendship, a relationship, or pure, unadulterated sex. 4. Unmatch if your match doesn’t pass your “vibe check.” If you’re living with anxiety, you may wonder if you can trust your gut instinct when you feel worried or overwhelmed a majority of the time — but you still can. If your match is flirting with you in a way that makes you uncomfortable or simply gives you creepy vibes, it’s completely OK to unmatch with them. Your intuition is great at keeping you safe, so use it to weed out people whose conversations make you feel worried or unsafe. 5. Take dating as slowly as you want. If your matches ask you on dates, but you don’t feel ready to meet in person yet, take it slowly. You can decide that you want to keep chatting before you connect with your matches “in real life” or even suggest doing a phone call or “video date” before moving on to an in-person meetup. Take the dating process as slowly as you need to — the right people will respect your boundaries and wait for you. 6. Tell your friends when you’re going on a date. Whether you want to stay extra safe on your date or you just need a little extra encouragement to keep your anxiety in check, tell a few friends you trust before you go out. Let them know when and where your date is, what your date’s name is, and when you think you’ll be back. If you thrive on encouragement from other people, knowing your friends are hyping you up can calm your nerves a bit before you go out. Giving your friends the time and place of your date in advance can also keep those, “What if something happens?” thoughts a little quieter. 7. Manage your dating expectations. You might not have a perfect fairytale connection with your first Tinder or Bumble date — and that’s OK. It doesn’t mean you won’t find someone — it just means you probably haven’t met the right person for you yet. On the contrary, if your anxiety constantly convinces you that everything will go wrong, you might think that your date will hate you or you won’t like your date, but that might not be the case either. Anxiety often works in extremes, so try to remind yourself that there’s a middle ground — you can have fun and learn about yourself even if there’s no second date. 8. Be upfront about your feelings. If you and your match are hitting it off before you go on a date but dating makes you feel anxious, sharing your feelings with your match may help normalize your experience. Sharing that you feel a bit nervous for your date might feel uncomfortable, but your match might also feel the exact same way. If your conversations are already running smoothly, mentioning your feelings around your upcoming date can help both you and your match feel less alone — and maybe even connect on a deeper level. 9. Get yourself in a calm headspace before your date. When you have a date coming up, take extra steps to make sure you’re putting your mental health first. Stay on top of your medications, talk about your upcoming date in therapy, and use coping skills that work for you in the days prior to your date. Whether staying calm means taking a warm bubble bath, doing breathing exercises regularly, or cutting down on your favorite true crime shows for a few days, do whatever you need to “cope ahead” for your date. 10. Embrace the awkwardness of dating. If your date doesn’t go exactly the way you envisioned it, you may feel your anxiety crop back up, but try to “embrace the awkwardness.” You may have silences, stumbles, or little missteps on your first date — and that’s completely OK. Remind yourself that even if your first date doesn’t go perfectly, you and your date may just have “first date” nerves.” You can watch your date go a little bit “off-script” and still land a second date if you feel a connection with your match. The right person will make the awkward moments fun and know that they don’t define how successful your date is. Using dating apps as someone with anxiety can feel like an uphill battle, but there are plenty of ways to swipe, match, connect, hook up, and date while still caring for your mental health. Whether you’re new to dating apps or are trying hard to get off dating apps, take time to manage your anxiety, and don’t forget to have fun!

How DARVO Can Help You Recognize Emotional Abuse

The acronym “DARVO” has been floating around the internet recently, and it’s sparking important conversations about recognizing emotional abuse. DARVO is a tactic many emotional abusers use to project their behavior onto their victims and gaslight emotional abuse survivors into believing they’re the ones who need to change their behavior — not their abusers. DARVO stands for “ Deny , Attack , and Reverse Victim and Offender .” Let’s break this down further: Deny: When an abuser is confronted about their behavior toward an abuse survivor, they may deny that they ever said or did what the survivor claims they did. This first portion of DARVO is a form of gaslighting — or making a person doubt the reality of their experiences. Attack: After denying that they ever participated in the offending action or actions, an emotional abuser may attack the victim of their abuse for mentioning that their actions were hurtful. They may try to put their victim down to dissuade them from attempting to discuss the abuse again or bring up unrelated incidents that paint the victim in a negative light. They may also say the abuse survivor is “too sensitive” or “can’t take a joke” to begin to make the survivor believe they alone are at fault. Reverse Victim and Offender: An emotional abuser may then try to make themselves out to be the victim of their own victim’s confrontation — no matter how calmly an emotional abuse survivor attempts to discuss the issue. The abuser may say that their victim is “hurting their feelings” or claim that the abuse survivor is “attacking” them for expressing how they feel about being attacked. The abuse survivor may then feel guilty for “hurting” their abuser and apologize for doing absolutely nothing wrong because they may genuinely believe that they are in the wrong for feeling hurt by something their abuser did or said. What DARVO looks like in conversation: Emotional abuse survivor: “I felt hurt when you told me that I’ll never be smart enough to have the career I want. It made me feel sad, hopeless, and unintelligent.” Emotional abuser: “I never said that. I said you have to work hard in school to succeed in any career. Don’t put words in my mouth!” (Deny) Emotional abuse survivor: “I remember you said that. It was after I finished studying on Monday. I told you how hard my classes are, and that’s how you responded.” Emotional abuser: “ I’m so tired of you always trying to accuse me of saying rude things about you! You never respect my opinions, and you always start drama with me. When will you stop being so sensitive?” (Attack) Emotional abuse survivor: “I’m sorry. I was just mad about the conversation we had about school. I hurt your feelings, and that was wrong of me.” Emotional abuser: “Well, I’m glad you at least see I’m hurt! You need to quit telling me I said things I never would have said. And you probably told all your friends what a horrible person I am too — even though you made this whole thing up! I’m so tired of you bullying me all the time!” (Reverse Victim and Offender) Emotional abuse survivor: “You’re not a horrible person, and you’re right — I should never have brought this up. Maybe I remembered it wrong. I’m so sorry for hurting you.” At first, the emotional abuse survivor in this conversation politely mentioned their experiences and how their abuser made them feel, but they ended up apologizing to their abuser because their abuser convinced them they are abusive instead. Emotional abusers will often deny that their actions were hurtful and deflect their victims away from the issue at hand. They’ll often use blaming and shaming tactics on their victims to make those who survive their abuse feel bad for them and may even try to garner apologies from their victims by portraying themselves as victims of their own victims’ actions. If you’re an emotional abuse survivor, you may legitimately feel like an abuser yourself after having so many conversations in which you’re made to feel like you’ve done something hurtful. Once you recognize others using DARVO on you, though, you may start to realize that you aren’t the problem. Abusers may use this strategy to twist conversations about their own hurtful actions in their favor because they don’t want to confront the reality that they did anything wrong or because they want survivors to remain afraid to speak up. If it doesn’t feel safe to speak any further with your emotional abuser about how their actions affected you, you don’t have to initiate those conversations. After these situations take place, try to remind yourself that you are a survivor of emotional abuse, your experiences are real and valid, and DARVO is meant to illegitimately convince you otherwise. If you need help remembering that you aren’t at fault, reach out to a safe, supportive person or call an emotional abuse support line if you can. The abuse you face is not your fault, you are entitled to feel hurt and upset about it, and you are never alone.

Beauty and Style Life Hacks for Hard Mornings With Depression

If you live for flawless makeup and on-point outfits but also live with depression, it might be hard for you to balance your passion for fashion with your will to get up in the morning. Getting out of bed when depression is in full force can be rough, but there are still plenty of ways to show off your style while staying by your bedside. Here are seven style and beauty hacks for those days when your depression makes it hard to get out of bed. 1. Choose your outfit the night before. If you have more energy later in the day, choose tomorrow’s outfit today. Sort through your clothes and put together an outfit that fits with your plans for the next day. Don’t forget to set out that perfect pair of shoes and any accessories you think will complement your outfit! If you’ve been struggling with intense depression recently, you can keep your outfit as simple as you want — but don’t forget to lay out anything you might possibly want to wear the night before. That way, you won’t be scrambling to find your favorite belt if you’re having a hard time getting up in the morning. 2. Keep beauty and hygiene products near your bed. If it doesn’t have to be stored in the bathroom, why keep it there? Move your favorite makeup products, moisturizers, and lotions into your bedroom for easy access. It doesn’t need to happen all at once if you’re deep in a depressive episode, but gradually transitioning to storing your beauty and hygiene “must-haves” in your room can help you ease into your morning routine when walking to the bathroom feels like too much. Outfit your nightstand with a small mirror, and keep a few favorite makeup products within arm’s reach. If you have enough space, you can even keep your toothbrush, a cup of water, and a small glass on your nightstand so you can keep your “pearly whites” extra pearly white without the extra hassle! 3. Have a quick makeup routine handy for hard depression days. You may love rocking a full face of makeup, but putting on any product can be hard when you’re deep in depression. If you want to do your makeup without a huge time and energy commitment, come up with a quick makeup routine. Ask yourself how long you think you could spend on your makeup when you’re struggling with depression, and when the struggle feels less intense, test out which products you can apply in that timeframe. A simple foundation, mascara, and eyeliner look will take up far less time than a full face — but it can still give you the “put-together” vibe you love! 4. Choose outfits that take less work to put on. When you struggle to get out of bed in the morning, you may feel like there’s nothing worse than struggling into a pair of fitted pants or a blouse with complicated sleeves. Choosing outfits that show off your style but take less time to put on can help you conserve your energy when depression has you dragging. Pieces like dresses, jumpsuits, rompers, and overalls may be far easier to pop on than a button-down and some dressy jeans — but they’re just as cohesive. Once you know what your day brings, take inventory of the “easier” outfits you own, and choose a hassle-free fit that seamlessly fits into your day. You can still look stylish and comfortable without pushing yourself too far! 5. Opt for quick, depression-friendly hairstyles. If you love doing your hair, but your depression definitely doesn’t , know some quick hairstyles that work for you on days when you don’t have a ton of energy. Leaving your hair natural can help ease your stress and still tie flawlessly into your #OOTD. If you don’t want to keep your hair down for the day, choose a style that doesn’t require too much of your time, and keep any hair accessories you need by your bed. Sectioning your ponytail in three and curling each section is an easy way to give your hair some body in just a few minutes. You can also opt for a quick braid, a five-minute half-up, half-down, or even a messy bun to complete your look. Living with depression doesn’t mean you can’t have fabulous hair! 6. Choose shoes that are easy to put on. You may feel like there’s nothing worse than getting all ready for your day and then realizing you still have to strap up your heels or lace up your sneakers. Even “small” things — like tying shoes — can feel like an annoying hassle when you’re struggling with depression, but that doesn’t mean you have to make life harder for yourself! If you can, choose shoes that are easy to slip on — a cute, comfortable pair of sandals, some stylish zipper-less boots, or a fun pair of lace-free sneakers can tie together your outfit without draining your energy. If you have a disability or chronic illness that limits your shoe options, choose your widest or most adaptive pair of shoes so you can fit in any mobility aids you may need with as little effort as possible. 7. Ease into your morning before you dress up. There’s no rule saying that you have to get dressed first thing in the morning if it feels like too much for you. If your depression is making putting on a shirt feel like climbing a mountain, do something relaxing that can help you adjust to the new day. Whether you like drawing, prefer journaling, or enjoy listening to your favorite music, choosing a low-intensity activity that really makes you tick can help you conquer getting dressed and ready. You can even tie your passion for fashion into your morning activity — sketch out some fashion designs or makeup looks, journal about your thoughts on your personal style, or choose music that makes you feel like you’re in a fashion show! If you adore fashion, but your depression makes getting out of bed a struggle, there are plenty of ways to hack your hard days and still create on-point looks you’ll love. “Hacking” your beauty and style routines on your hardest days can give you the best of both worlds — quick, easy looks that still show off your impeccable style.

Procrastinating Eating Meals as a Symptom of Anorexia Nervosa

I’m a procrastinator — but not in the way you think. I stress about projects when I don’t start them early enough. I feel safe and comfortable when I know I have a head-start on my to-do list. There’s just one problem: I use the stress I feel about procrastinating on deadlines to procrastinate on eating . In college, I studied so diligently that I would convince myself to study five minutes longer — and then only 10 minutes longer and then just 15 minutes longer — before I ate dinner. As midterms and finals drew closer, I’d find myself reluctantly preparing dinner at 9 or 10 p.m. because I had spent so long doing anything but eating. And when I had too many extracurriculars on my plate, my dubious eating habits would seep into lunchtime — and I wouldn’t eat until the late afternoon. I didn’t see my habits as unhealthy — I was simply too busy to eat in a typical timeframe. At the time, though, I was completely unaware I had a full-blown eating disorder — and my fashionably late meals were just another symptom. When I lugged textbooks, kitchenware, and apartment décor home after my college graduation, my “food procrastination” followed me back to my hometown as well. I couldn’t seem to eat lunch on time, and eventually, my untraditional schedule as a respite care worker meant I could continue to procrastinate on eating. I wasn’t working a 9-5 job with a set lunch break, so I could eat whenever I wanted — and my eating disordered-mind took full advantage of my schedule. I know my behavior wasn’t “typical,” but I assumed my internal clock was aligned later than others’ were. It was all just a quirky personal habit — not anything serious. A couple of years later, I received the shock of my life when I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. The diagnosis didn’t feel like it fit me because I was missing so many of the hallmark anorexia symptoms. The reality, though, was that I was subconsciously scared of weight gain, I didn’t eat enough to adequately fuel my body, and I delayed meals so as to avoid triggers. However, I had not yet arrived at the realization that my late meals served a dangerous purpose, so I carried on with putting off every meal until the last possible minute. When I entered eating disorder treatment, meals were highly regimented. Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Lunch at noon. Dinner at 5:30 p.m. No exceptions. I was blown away at how early every meal seemed to be skewed, but come mealtime, I ate every bite. I was determined to be the “perfect” eating disorder treatment client — even if it meant giving up my late lunches and dinners. However, when I left residential eating disorder treatment, my “food procrastination” came back in full force. I had no one telling me when to eat anymore, so when I wasn’t in my part-day treatment program, I took full advantage of my freedom. As I began chipping away at the motivation behind my eating disorder behavior, though, I began to fully realize that I procrastinate on eating meals. Entering treatment brought new triggers — and a renewed desire to distance myself from the complex feelings that ignited my eating disorder — so delaying meals was a surefire way to avoid thinking too much, feeling too much, and recovering too much. Even now, three years into my eating disorder recovery, I still struggle with “food procrastination.” On days when I feel emotionally numb or struggle with eating disorder thoughts, eating meals on time feels especially daunting. Even buying food at the grocery store can feel like too much to handle — especially if I know I need to buy potentially challenging snack foods. I tell myself that if I postpone the inevitable food challenge outing or grocery shopping trip long enough, it’ll be “too late” to go, and I’ll simply need to cope with the triggers later. I force myself to believe that eating meals late is more recovery-oriented than not eating them at all — and in doing so, I reinforce my eating disorder. I still tell myself that I’ll eat “after I finish this homework,” “after I’m done working,” or “after this YouTube video ends,” but I also know I have accountability. My family gently encourages me to eat meals in a “typical” timeframe, and my friends hold me accountable for picking up my favorite foods no later than when I say I will. I also remind myself that food is necessary, and delaying inevitable triggers may just increase my anxiety. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever stop procrastinating on eating — but I’m now aware of why I delay meals and snacks, I have support, and I’m working hard to kick this eating disorder behavior to the curb.

10 Words You May Not Know Are Disability Slurs

Many slurs are a hard “no” to say— we know how they’ve been used to undermine minority groups and understand why we shouldn’t use them. Disability slurs, however, don’t receive the same negative press as words that harm other minority groups, so they’re often regularly interspersed in our conversations. If you’d like to change your phrasing to be more mindful of the disability community’s history and challenges, here are 10 common terms you may not know are disability slurs. 1. “Spaz” If you’ve ever called someone a “spaz,” you may have meant it all in good fun, but it’s anything but fun for many people with disabilities. The word “spaz” is slang for “spastic,” which is a medical term that was originally used to describe people with cerebral palsy. By the 1960s, though, “spastic” had devolved into the word “spaz” — and quickly became synonymous with thoughtless, out-of-control, ridiculous behavior. Plenty of people with disabilities have been called “spaz” for simply existing in their bodies or speaking or thinking in ways able-bodied, neurotypical people don’t understand. 60 years later, we still haven’t retired the word “spaz” from our everyday conversations, but it’s time to leave it a thing of the past. 2. “Crazy” You’ve probably used the word “crazy” more times than you can count, but you may not know it’s harmful to people with mental illness. Since the Middle Ages, “crazy” has derogatorily referred to people who have a disease or sickness. In the 1920s, the word “crazy” started becoming synonymous with the word “cool,” and to this day, it’s often used to describe fun, exciting experiences. Unfortunately, though, it’s also been weaponized against plenty of people with mental illness to describe their symptoms. Although we’ve made progress in dismantling the mental health stigma, people with mental illness still are called “crazy” for having noticeable symptoms of schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, and anxiety. Any offensive word that was a staple in the Dark Ages is not a word we still need in our lives. 3. “Lame” If your first inclination is to call a boring night out or a letdown of a party “lame,” please think again. Although “lame” was originally a term to describe people who struggle to move, by the 1600s, it was used to describe old, irrelevant news. In the 1940s, “lame” became even more derogatory as it rose in popularity as a way to describe socially awkward people. Although “lame” is still regularly thrown around as an innocent enough teen insult, its connotations make it detrimental to people with disabilities who have difficulty walking or who struggle with social interactions. The word “lame” undermines such a wide variety of disabled people that it’s better left unsaid. 4. “Retard” You’ve likely seen the “r-word” all over the internet — and you may also have spotted plenty of campaigns against it. “Retard” is one of the most recognizable disability slurs, but even a spate of awareness campaigns about how the “r-word” hurts people with intellectual disabilities hasn’t taken it out of people’s vocabularies. The word arose in the Middle Ages to neutrally describe a slow state or a delay, but in the 1970s, its meaning shifted to offensively describe people with cognitive delays. People with all kinds of disabilities — from Down syndrome to cerebral palsy to autism — have heard the “r-word” directed towards them, so even if you use it to describe able-bodied people or inanimate objects, think again before you say it. 5. “Fallen on deaf ears” If you think someone’s ignoring you, you may feel tempted to say that your words have “fallen on deaf ears” — but some members of the Deaf community would like you to pick different phrasing. The phrase has long been used to mean that someone is actively ignoring what you have to say, which may seem pretty innocuous at first. However, the term associates deafness with a hearing person deliberately not listening — which is not an accurate comparison in the slightest. People in the Deaf and hard-of-hearing communities may often be taken not listening carefully when they can’t actually hear others, so conflating the two is a huge “no-no” — and so is using this phrase. 6. “Autistic” as a slur Although many people on the autism spectrum prefer to refer to themselves as “autistic” rather than as “people with autism,” neurotypical people often throw around the word “autistic” to describe behavior that seems hyper-focused or socially awkward. The difference between the two matters — “autistic” is perfectly fine as a clinical term or a self-identifier, but it’s not a word for neurotypical people to use to mock or deride others. Using “autistic” as an insult became especially popular as the internet spawned chat rooms and discussion forums, but just because someone hiding behind a screen thinks “autistic” is an acceptable insult doesn’t mean it’s not a disability slur. The word “autistic” does belong on the web — but only to positively or neutrally describe someone with autism. 7. “Cripple” You may think “cripple” sounds like a neutral term, but it’s now an outdated, offensive way to refer to someone who struggles with movement. “Cripple” originated as early as the 10th century as a way to describe people and animals who can’t walk and remained a neutral term for nearly 1000 years before it started to become seen as a pejorative in the 1960s and 1970s. The word “cripple” has been used to insult many people with physical disabilities for their perceived weaknesses, which is why people eventually stopped using the term in laws and statutes. Today, people with physical disabilities have started a movement to reclaim the word “cripple,” but if you don’t have a physical disability, this word isn’t yours to reclaim. 8. “So OCD” Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a completely valid diagnosis, but that doesn’t mean it’s a great way to describe yourself. Since the 1980s — when OCD first appeared in the DSM — people have described themselves as “OCD” based on stereotypes about the mental illness, like being extra tidy or wanting tasks done in a certain order. However, many of the people who call themselves “so OCD” are describing traits that are not intense enough to be clinically diagnosed as obsessive-compulsive disorder. It’s so important that we stop making light of the real struggles people with OCD face by describing ourselves as “OCD” because we like to line up our pens on our desks. 9. “Midget” You may not hear “midget” thrown around every day, but that doesn’t make it any less harmful to people with dwarfism. The word “midget” is derived from the word “midge,” which refers to small, annoying insects. As people with dwarfism struggled to be gainfully employed, many ended up as “attractions” in circus sideshows that used the word “midget” to draw in customers. The use of “midget” to describe people who were touted as “other” and openly gawked at for years makes it a pejorative for many people with dwarfism. Today, many people with dwarfism prefer the less negative descriptor “little person,” so unless people with dwarfism choose to openly reclaim the word “midget,” there’s no good reason for people to still use it. 10. “Insane” You may have described some of the most wild, fun days of your life as “insane,” but the word has a far darker meaning for many people with mental illness. In the 1500s, the word “insane” referred to people with intellectual or mental health disabilities, and it later became associated with asylums that trapped and mistreated mentally ill people. Now, “insane” is a legal term to describe people who don’t understand that their unlawful behavior was criminal because of their mental state, but it’s also used to put down people with mental illness. People with a variety of mental health conditions are often called “insane” for having panic attacks, manic episodes, or hallucinations — and this phrasing could prevent them from getting the help they need. Let’s leave the word “insane” in the courtroom and stop using it to disparage people who struggle with their mental health. Disability slurs pepper so many everyday conversations that it may be hard to steer away from them, but changing your vocabulary to eliminate words that harm the disability community is worth your time. Removing disability slurs from your everyday lexicon takes time and effort, but framing disability in a neutral or positive way instead will help reduce the stigma surrounding disability and mental illness.

10 Words You May Not Know Are Disability Slurs

Many slurs are a hard “no” to say— we know how they’ve been used to undermine minority groups and understand why we shouldn’t use them. Disability slurs, however, don’t receive the same negative press as words that harm other minority groups, so they’re often regularly interspersed in our conversations. If you’d like to change your phrasing to be more mindful of the disability community’s history and challenges, here are 10 common terms you may not know are disability slurs. 1. “Spaz” If you’ve ever called someone a “spaz,” you may have meant it all in good fun, but it’s anything but fun for many people with disabilities. The word “spaz” is slang for “spastic,” which is a medical term that was originally used to describe people with cerebral palsy. By the 1960s, though, “spastic” had devolved into the word “spaz” — and quickly became synonymous with thoughtless, out-of-control, ridiculous behavior. Plenty of people with disabilities have been called “spaz” for simply existing in their bodies or speaking or thinking in ways able-bodied, neurotypical people don’t understand. 60 years later, we still haven’t retired the word “spaz” from our everyday conversations, but it’s time to leave it a thing of the past. 2. “Crazy” You’ve probably used the word “crazy” more times than you can count, but you may not know it’s harmful to people with mental illness. Since the Middle Ages, “crazy” has derogatorily referred to people who have a disease or sickness. In the 1920s, the word “crazy” started becoming synonymous with the word “cool,” and to this day, it’s often used to describe fun, exciting experiences. Unfortunately, though, it’s also been weaponized against plenty of people with mental illness to describe their symptoms. Although we’ve made progress in dismantling the mental health stigma, people with mental illness still are called “crazy” for having noticeable symptoms of schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, and anxiety. Any offensive word that was a staple in the Dark Ages is not a word we still need in our lives. 3. “Lame” If your first inclination is to call a boring night out or a letdown of a party “lame,” please think again. Although “lame” was originally a term to describe people who struggle to move, by the 1600s, it was used to describe old, irrelevant news. In the 1940s, “lame” became even more derogatory as it rose in popularity as a way to describe socially awkward people. Although “lame” is still regularly thrown around as an innocent enough teen insult, its connotations make it detrimental to people with disabilities who have difficulty walking or who struggle with social interactions. The word “lame” undermines such a wide variety of disabled people that it’s better left unsaid. 4. “Retard” You’ve likely seen the “r-word” all over the internet — and you may also have spotted plenty of campaigns against it. “Retard” is one of the most recognizable disability slurs, but even a spate of awareness campaigns about how the “r-word” hurts people with intellectual disabilities hasn’t taken it out of people’s vocabularies. The word arose in the Middle Ages to neutrally describe a slow state or a delay, but in the 1970s, its meaning shifted to offensively describe people with cognitive delays. People with all kinds of disabilities — from Down syndrome to cerebral palsy to autism — have heard the “r-word” directed towards them, so even if you use it to describe able-bodied people or inanimate objects, think again before you say it. 5. “Fallen on deaf ears” If you think someone’s ignoring you, you may feel tempted to say that your words have “fallen on deaf ears” — but some members of the Deaf community would like you to pick different phrasing. The phrase has long been used to mean that someone is actively ignoring what you have to say, which may seem pretty innocuous at first. However, the term associates deafness with a hearing person deliberately not listening — which is not an accurate comparison in the slightest. People in the Deaf and hard-of-hearing communities may often be taken not listening carefully when they can’t actually hear others, so conflating the two is a huge “no-no” — and so is using this phrase. 6. “Autistic” as a slur Although many people on the autism spectrum prefer to refer to themselves as “autistic” rather than as “people with autism,” neurotypical people often throw around the word “autistic” to describe behavior that seems hyper-focused or socially awkward. The difference between the two matters — “autistic” is perfectly fine as a clinical term or a self-identifier, but it’s not a word for neurotypical people to use to mock or deride others. Using “autistic” as an insult became especially popular as the internet spawned chat rooms and discussion forums, but just because someone hiding behind a screen thinks “autistic” is an acceptable insult doesn’t mean it’s not a disability slur. The word “autistic” does belong on the web — but only to positively or neutrally describe someone with autism. 7. “Cripple” You may think “cripple” sounds like a neutral term, but it’s now an outdated, offensive way to refer to someone who struggles with movement. “Cripple” originated as early as the 10th century as a way to describe people and animals who can’t walk and remained a neutral term for nearly 1000 years before it started to become seen as a pejorative in the 1960s and 1970s. The word “cripple” has been used to insult many people with physical disabilities for their perceived weaknesses, which is why people eventually stopped using the term in laws and statutes. Today, people with physical disabilities have started a movement to reclaim the word “cripple,” but if you don’t have a physical disability, this word isn’t yours to reclaim. 8. “So OCD” Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a completely valid diagnosis, but that doesn’t mean it’s a great way to describe yourself. Since the 1980s — when OCD first appeared in the DSM — people have described themselves as “OCD” based on stereotypes about the mental illness, like being extra tidy or wanting tasks done in a certain order. However, many of the people who call themselves “so OCD” are describing traits that are not intense enough to be clinically diagnosed as obsessive-compulsive disorder. It’s so important that we stop making light of the real struggles people with OCD face by describing ourselves as “OCD” because we like to line up our pens on our desks. 9. “Midget” You may not hear “midget” thrown around every day, but that doesn’t make it any less harmful to people with dwarfism. The word “midget” is derived from the word “midge,” which refers to small, annoying insects. As people with dwarfism struggled to be gainfully employed, many ended up as “attractions” in circus sideshows that used the word “midget” to draw in customers. The use of “midget” to describe people who were touted as “other” and openly gawked at for years makes it a pejorative for many people with dwarfism. Today, many people with dwarfism prefer the less negative descriptor “little person,” so unless people with dwarfism choose to openly reclaim the word “midget,” there’s no good reason for people to still use it. 10. “Insane” You may have described some of the most wild, fun days of your life as “insane,” but the word has a far darker meaning for many people with mental illness. In the 1500s, the word “insane” referred to people with intellectual or mental health disabilities, and it later became associated with asylums that trapped and mistreated mentally ill people. Now, “insane” is a legal term to describe people who don’t understand that their unlawful behavior was criminal because of their mental state, but it’s also used to put down people with mental illness. People with a variety of mental health conditions are often called “insane” for having panic attacks, manic episodes, or hallucinations — and this phrasing could prevent them from getting the help they need. Let’s leave the word “insane” in the courtroom and stop using it to disparage people who struggle with their mental health. Disability slurs pepper so many everyday conversations that it may be hard to steer away from them, but changing your vocabulary to eliminate words that harm the disability community is worth your time. Removing disability slurs from your everyday lexicon takes time and effort, but framing disability in a neutral or positive way instead will help reduce the stigma surrounding disability and mental illness.

10 Words You May Not Know Are Disability Slurs

Many slurs are a hard “no” to say— we know how they’ve been used to undermine minority groups and understand why we shouldn’t use them. Disability slurs, however, don’t receive the same negative press as words that harm other minority groups, so they’re often regularly interspersed in our conversations. If you’d like to change your phrasing to be more mindful of the disability community’s history and challenges, here are 10 common terms you may not know are disability slurs. 1. “Spaz” If you’ve ever called someone a “spaz,” you may have meant it all in good fun, but it’s anything but fun for many people with disabilities. The word “spaz” is slang for “spastic,” which is a medical term that was originally used to describe people with cerebral palsy. By the 1960s, though, “spastic” had devolved into the word “spaz” — and quickly became synonymous with thoughtless, out-of-control, ridiculous behavior. Plenty of people with disabilities have been called “spaz” for simply existing in their bodies or speaking or thinking in ways able-bodied, neurotypical people don’t understand. 60 years later, we still haven’t retired the word “spaz” from our everyday conversations, but it’s time to leave it a thing of the past. 2. “Crazy” You’ve probably used the word “crazy” more times than you can count, but you may not know it’s harmful to people with mental illness. Since the Middle Ages, “crazy” has derogatorily referred to people who have a disease or sickness. In the 1920s, the word “crazy” started becoming synonymous with the word “cool,” and to this day, it’s often used to describe fun, exciting experiences. Unfortunately, though, it’s also been weaponized against plenty of people with mental illness to describe their symptoms. Although we’ve made progress in dismantling the mental health stigma, people with mental illness still are called “crazy” for having noticeable symptoms of schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, and anxiety. Any offensive word that was a staple in the Dark Ages is not a word we still need in our lives. 3. “Lame” If your first inclination is to call a boring night out or a letdown of a party “lame,” please think again. Although “lame” was originally a term to describe people who struggle to move, by the 1600s, it was used to describe old, irrelevant news. In the 1940s, “lame” became even more derogatory as it rose in popularity as a way to describe socially awkward people. Although “lame” is still regularly thrown around as an innocent enough teen insult, its connotations make it detrimental to people with disabilities who have difficulty walking or who struggle with social interactions. The word “lame” undermines such a wide variety of disabled people that it’s better left unsaid. 4. “Retard” You’ve likely seen the “r-word” all over the internet — and you may also have spotted plenty of campaigns against it. “Retard” is one of the most recognizable disability slurs, but even a spate of awareness campaigns about how the “r-word” hurts people with intellectual disabilities hasn’t taken it out of people’s vocabularies. The word arose in the Middle Ages to neutrally describe a slow state or a delay, but in the 1970s, its meaning shifted to offensively describe people with cognitive delays. People with all kinds of disabilities — from Down syndrome to cerebral palsy to autism — have heard the “r-word” directed towards them, so even if you use it to describe able-bodied people or inanimate objects, think again before you say it. 5. “Fallen on deaf ears” If you think someone’s ignoring you, you may feel tempted to say that your words have “fallen on deaf ears” — but some members of the Deaf community would like you to pick different phrasing. The phrase has long been used to mean that someone is actively ignoring what you have to say, which may seem pretty innocuous at first. However, the term associates deafness with a hearing person deliberately not listening — which is not an accurate comparison in the slightest. People in the Deaf and hard-of-hearing communities may often be taken not listening carefully when they can’t actually hear others, so conflating the two is a huge “no-no” — and so is using this phrase. 6. “Autistic” as a slur Although many people on the autism spectrum prefer to refer to themselves as “autistic” rather than as “people with autism,” neurotypical people often throw around the word “autistic” to describe behavior that seems hyper-focused or socially awkward. The difference between the two matters — “autistic” is perfectly fine as a clinical term or a self-identifier, but it’s not a word for neurotypical people to use to mock or deride others. Using “autistic” as an insult became especially popular as the internet spawned chat rooms and discussion forums, but just because someone hiding behind a screen thinks “autistic” is an acceptable insult doesn’t mean it’s not a disability slur. The word “autistic” does belong on the web — but only to positively or neutrally describe someone with autism. 7. “Cripple” You may think “cripple” sounds like a neutral term, but it’s now an outdated, offensive way to refer to someone who struggles with movement. “Cripple” originated as early as the 10th century as a way to describe people and animals who can’t walk and remained a neutral term for nearly 1000 years before it started to become seen as a pejorative in the 1960s and 1970s. The word “cripple” has been used to insult many people with physical disabilities for their perceived weaknesses, which is why people eventually stopped using the term in laws and statutes. Today, people with physical disabilities have started a movement to reclaim the word “cripple,” but if you don’t have a physical disability, this word isn’t yours to reclaim. 8. “So OCD” Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a completely valid diagnosis, but that doesn’t mean it’s a great way to describe yourself. Since the 1980s — when OCD first appeared in the DSM — people have described themselves as “OCD” based on stereotypes about the mental illness, like being extra tidy or wanting tasks done in a certain order. However, many of the people who call themselves “so OCD” are describing traits that are not intense enough to be clinically diagnosed as obsessive-compulsive disorder. It’s so important that we stop making light of the real struggles people with OCD face by describing ourselves as “OCD” because we like to line up our pens on our desks. 9. “Midget” You may not hear “midget” thrown around every day, but that doesn’t make it any less harmful to people with dwarfism. The word “midget” is derived from the word “midge,” which refers to small, annoying insects. As people with dwarfism struggled to be gainfully employed, many ended up as “attractions” in circus sideshows that used the word “midget” to draw in customers. The use of “midget” to describe people who were touted as “other” and openly gawked at for years makes it a pejorative for many people with dwarfism. Today, many people with dwarfism prefer the less negative descriptor “little person,” so unless people with dwarfism choose to openly reclaim the word “midget,” there’s no good reason for people to still use it. 10. “Insane” You may have described some of the most wild, fun days of your life as “insane,” but the word has a far darker meaning for many people with mental illness. In the 1500s, the word “insane” referred to people with intellectual or mental health disabilities, and it later became associated with asylums that trapped and mistreated mentally ill people. Now, “insane” is a legal term to describe people who don’t understand that their unlawful behavior was criminal because of their mental state, but it’s also used to put down people with mental illness. People with a variety of mental health conditions are often called “insane” for having panic attacks, manic episodes, or hallucinations — and this phrasing could prevent them from getting the help they need. Let’s leave the word “insane” in the courtroom and stop using it to disparage people who struggle with their mental health. Disability slurs pepper so many everyday conversations that it may be hard to steer away from them, but changing your vocabulary to eliminate words that harm the disability community is worth your time. Removing disability slurs from your everyday lexicon takes time and effort, but framing disability in a neutral or positive way instead will help reduce the stigma surrounding disability and mental illness.

10 Words You May Not Know Are Disability Slurs

Many slurs are a hard “no” to say— we know how they’ve been used to undermine minority groups and understand why we shouldn’t use them. Disability slurs, however, don’t receive the same negative press as words that harm other minority groups, so they’re often regularly interspersed in our conversations. If you’d like to change your phrasing to be more mindful of the disability community’s history and challenges, here are 10 common terms you may not know are disability slurs. 1. “Spaz” If you’ve ever called someone a “spaz,” you may have meant it all in good fun, but it’s anything but fun for many people with disabilities. The word “spaz” is slang for “spastic,” which is a medical term that was originally used to describe people with cerebral palsy. By the 1960s, though, “spastic” had devolved into the word “spaz” — and quickly became synonymous with thoughtless, out-of-control, ridiculous behavior. Plenty of people with disabilities have been called “spaz” for simply existing in their bodies or speaking or thinking in ways able-bodied, neurotypical people don’t understand. 60 years later, we still haven’t retired the word “spaz” from our everyday conversations, but it’s time to leave it a thing of the past. 2. “Crazy” You’ve probably used the word “crazy” more times than you can count, but you may not know it’s harmful to people with mental illness. Since the Middle Ages, “crazy” has derogatorily referred to people who have a disease or sickness. In the 1920s, the word “crazy” started becoming synonymous with the word “cool,” and to this day, it’s often used to describe fun, exciting experiences. Unfortunately, though, it’s also been weaponized against plenty of people with mental illness to describe their symptoms. Although we’ve made progress in dismantling the mental health stigma, people with mental illness still are called “crazy” for having noticeable symptoms of schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, and anxiety. Any offensive word that was a staple in the Dark Ages is not a word we still need in our lives. 3. “Lame” If your first inclination is to call a boring night out or a letdown of a party “lame,” please think again. Although “lame” was originally a term to describe people who struggle to move, by the 1600s, it was used to describe old, irrelevant news. In the 1940s, “lame” became even more derogatory as it rose in popularity as a way to describe socially awkward people. Although “lame” is still regularly thrown around as an innocent enough teen insult, its connotations make it detrimental to people with disabilities who have difficulty walking or who struggle with social interactions. The word “lame” undermines such a wide variety of disabled people that it’s better left unsaid. 4. “Retard” You’ve likely seen the “r-word” all over the internet — and you may also have spotted plenty of campaigns against it. “Retard” is one of the most recognizable disability slurs, but even a spate of awareness campaigns about how the “r-word” hurts people with intellectual disabilities hasn’t taken it out of people’s vocabularies. The word arose in the Middle Ages to neutrally describe a slow state or a delay, but in the 1970s, its meaning shifted to offensively describe people with cognitive delays. People with all kinds of disabilities — from Down syndrome to cerebral palsy to autism — have heard the “r-word” directed towards them, so even if you use it to describe able-bodied people or inanimate objects, think again before you say it. 5. “Fallen on deaf ears” If you think someone’s ignoring you, you may feel tempted to say that your words have “fallen on deaf ears” — but some members of the Deaf community would like you to pick different phrasing. The phrase has long been used to mean that someone is actively ignoring what you have to say, which may seem pretty innocuous at first. However, the term associates deafness with a hearing person deliberately not listening — which is not an accurate comparison in the slightest. People in the Deaf and hard-of-hearing communities may often be taken not listening carefully when they can’t actually hear others, so conflating the two is a huge “no-no” — and so is using this phrase. 6. “Autistic” as a slur Although many people on the autism spectrum prefer to refer to themselves as “autistic” rather than as “people with autism,” neurotypical people often throw around the word “autistic” to describe behavior that seems hyper-focused or socially awkward. The difference between the two matters — “autistic” is perfectly fine as a clinical term or a self-identifier, but it’s not a word for neurotypical people to use to mock or deride others. Using “autistic” as an insult became especially popular as the internet spawned chat rooms and discussion forums, but just because someone hiding behind a screen thinks “autistic” is an acceptable insult doesn’t mean it’s not a disability slur. The word “autistic” does belong on the web — but only to positively or neutrally describe someone with autism. 7. “Cripple” You may think “cripple” sounds like a neutral term, but it’s now an outdated, offensive way to refer to someone who struggles with movement. “Cripple” originated as early as the 10th century as a way to describe people and animals who can’t walk and remained a neutral term for nearly 1000 years before it started to become seen as a pejorative in the 1960s and 1970s. The word “cripple” has been used to insult many people with physical disabilities for their perceived weaknesses, which is why people eventually stopped using the term in laws and statutes. Today, people with physical disabilities have started a movement to reclaim the word “cripple,” but if you don’t have a physical disability, this word isn’t yours to reclaim. 8. “So OCD” Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a completely valid diagnosis, but that doesn’t mean it’s a great way to describe yourself. Since the 1980s — when OCD first appeared in the DSM — people have described themselves as “OCD” based on stereotypes about the mental illness, like being extra tidy or wanting tasks done in a certain order. However, many of the people who call themselves “so OCD” are describing traits that are not intense enough to be clinically diagnosed as obsessive-compulsive disorder. It’s so important that we stop making light of the real struggles people with OCD face by describing ourselves as “OCD” because we like to line up our pens on our desks. 9. “Midget” You may not hear “midget” thrown around every day, but that doesn’t make it any less harmful to people with dwarfism. The word “midget” is derived from the word “midge,” which refers to small, annoying insects. As people with dwarfism struggled to be gainfully employed, many ended up as “attractions” in circus sideshows that used the word “midget” to draw in customers. The use of “midget” to describe people who were touted as “other” and openly gawked at for years makes it a pejorative for many people with dwarfism. Today, many people with dwarfism prefer the less negative descriptor “little person,” so unless people with dwarfism choose to openly reclaim the word “midget,” there’s no good reason for people to still use it. 10. “Insane” You may have described some of the most wild, fun days of your life as “insane,” but the word has a far darker meaning for many people with mental illness. In the 1500s, the word “insane” referred to people with intellectual or mental health disabilities, and it later became associated with asylums that trapped and mistreated mentally ill people. Now, “insane” is a legal term to describe people who don’t understand that their unlawful behavior was criminal because of their mental state, but it’s also used to put down people with mental illness. People with a variety of mental health conditions are often called “insane” for having panic attacks, manic episodes, or hallucinations — and this phrasing could prevent them from getting the help they need. Let’s leave the word “insane” in the courtroom and stop using it to disparage people who struggle with their mental health. Disability slurs pepper so many everyday conversations that it may be hard to steer away from them, but changing your vocabulary to eliminate words that harm the disability community is worth your time. Removing disability slurs from your everyday lexicon takes time and effort, but framing disability in a neutral or positive way instead will help reduce the stigma surrounding disability and mental illness.