Ok, I’m not actually going to write about every mental illness joke, but at least the ones that are the most common.
Because as much as you may think there’s no harm in what you’re saying, it could actually be impacting someone in ways you would never imagine.
According to surveys, one in six adults in the United States has a mental illness.
Let’s put that into perspective. Let’s say you’re in a public place. You order a scone at a coffee shop, and they’re fresh out. You’re annoyed and lightly say “No scones?? Ug, I’m going to kill myself.”
Now let’s imagine that you’re with two of your friends. You also are saying this in front of the barista. Not to mention that the few people behind you in line can hear what you’re saying too.
Well, if we stick to the 1 in 6 stat, at least one person may have contemplated suicide just that same morning. And as lightly as you said it, those words impacted that person deeply.
Once I was walking around a farmer’s market with a friend, looking at the various stalls. We came up to one that was adopting out kittens and since I am not a soulless monster, I couldn’t help but pet them.
As I was stroking the fluffy head of a tabby cat through the cage bars, a woman came up beside me to try to do the same.
Frustrated from not being able to put her hand through the bars, she exclaimed, “if only I were anorexic, I could put my arm through.”
Little did she know I had just gotten out of eating disorder rehab.
Now, I don’t hold anything against this woman. She meant no harm and had no idea what I recently went through. It would be ridiculous of me to hold anything against her.
But as a society, we sure do an excellent job of making mental illness the butt of many jokes. And even if you mean it in the most innocent way, those jokes just aren’t funny anymore for a multitude of reasons.
“I’d love to date an anorexic chick. I’d never had to worry about her letting herself go.”
If this one shocks you, you’re not alone. I legitimately read this online somewhere and wanted to punch this guy through the computer.
Joke or not, the notion that the person you want to be dating needs to be skinny, beyond their natural weight, is ridiculous. A healthy, flourishing relationship transcends aesthetics and definitely doesn’t seek to put one another in harm’s way.
“If only I had the willpower to be anorexic, I’d be so much skinnier.”
Anorexia isn’t about willpower, it’s a disease of the mind.
And trust me, if you knew the physical pain, endless flow of tears, mental anguish, and severe depression one goes through when they’re anorexic, you wouldn’t wish it upon your worst enemy — let alone yourself.
“Girls are so bipolar.”
No, bipolar people are bipolar. The girl you’re most likely referencing is probably just confused or fed up with your actions.
Gaslighting is so early 2000’s guys (and girls). Wake up. People are entitled to their emotions and throwing around the term “bipolar” like it’s not a severe disorder that wreaks havoc on people’s lives is beyond tacky.
“I’m so bored I could kill myself.”
The example I gave at the beginning of this article goes into specific detail as to why this is unintentionally super harmful to the people around you.
Depression and suicidal ideations are real, scary diseases people go through. Joking around about it takes away from the severity of these issues.
Besides, you’re most likely never going to kill yourself out of sheer boredom purposely. So lets up our intellectual game and think of something else to say.
“Someone forgot to take their meds this morning!”
Wow. This one. Another perfect example of gaslighting.
Just because someone doesn’t act in the way you expect them to doesn’t mean their feelings aren’t valid. You are not the one to decide if their feelings are well-founded.
With that being said, a lot of people do take medications for a variety of reasons. Since it’s such a taboo subject in our society, a lot of people hold shame around this subject.
This simple joke could seem light-hearted to you but could actually be a stab in the heart for someone else.
“Dude, why are you obsessing? You’re so OCD.”
Having OCD consumes the life of the person dealing with it. It’s not just simply being detailed about cleaning their apartment, these people aren’t able to function in their daily lives because of their disorder.
It’s also so much easier to just replace “OCD” with the word “obsessive” too. Or maybe just accept that some people are different than you and how their feeling is normal for them.
People are out there battling the hardest battles they’ll go through in their life. Some people won’t even survive.
So just like we’ve eliminated making jokes about race, gender, and physical illnesses like cancer, I say we start adding mental illness to the list.