The following is an extract from an interview with Mallory Gothelf, mental health advocate and creator of ‘The Infinite Project‘. I asked Mallory her opinion on the use of words like ‘bonkers’, ‘nuts’, ‘crazy’, and ‘psycho’:
“For a long time, I let these words irritate me. It’s difficult not to be bothered by clearly demeaning and insensitive remarks. But what I have come to realize as a writer and a speaker, is that words only have meaning once we give them meaning. That’s not to say that we should speak hate or negativity, but unfortunately people are going to continue to speak words of hate and negativity.
In order to cope, I’ve taken to the strategy of giving meaning to words that empower and inspire, and devaluing words that make me feel inadequate or broken. I think we should continue to educate and evaluate the language that is used, but while initiatives and campaigns continue to spread awareness, it is important that we don’t relegate more time to negativity.
Our recovery is so precious; our healing is of the utmost importance. I’ve found that if I don’t give meaning to words like ‘crazy’, ‘nuts’, ‘psycho’, etc. then they cannot hold power over my mental state. I cannot control what other people say to me or about me, but I can control how I internalize remarks. I have decided to keep filtering out the insensitive and ignorant remarks, and let the tolerant and positive ones stick to my soul, while continuing to further the education of appropriate and tolerant language revolving around mental health.”
Read more of Mallory’s interview: Giving Space to be Heard | Mallory’s Story (coming soon)
Which words do you find stigmatise mental illness?