Since being diagnosed with panic disorder, I’ve noticed terms such as “panic attack” being used casually to describe nervousness. I think this comes from a place of misunderstanding, but when I say, “I’m having a panic attack,” it’s taken less seriously by my peers. My panic attacks feel more akin to heart attacks with numb limbs, tingling sensations, chest pains and difficulty breathing.
You may have heard “I’m so OCD” being thrown around to mean “I like things tidy,” or “she’s just being bipolar” as a dismissive way to say someone has changed their mind. These sayings minimize the severity of what folks who live with mental illnesses go through.
It’s important to start a conversation about mental health, but the language we use when starting that conversation is important, too.