That's so crazy. That's insane.
Are you a 'Crazy' Addict?
Crazy: a term we use for almost everything bad, strange, or unconditioned. But literally, of course it only means violent, so you can say it all you want.
A couple of months ago, I went a wedding, and during the rehearsal I counted the word was said over 300 times. 300! Not a few, like you'd think. Literally, within the course of two hours it was said hundreds of times, and every single time, it stung. It felt like the walls were crashing down on me, and I felt entirely unsafe with these strangers and friends.
The thing is I am crazy. I may not be violent, but don't we think everyone with a mental illness is violent today, or will be someday? In that case, I am crazy. I have 6 Mental Illnesses, not one. Is something wrong with me for not being violent? Is something wrong with me for being crazy?
This is when you get defensive, tell me I'm out of my mind for thinking that the word 'crazy' is offensive. But you don't take a moment to step back and think about the fact that in your daily use, you could've placed crazy into the way I was acting at that moment and I would be crazy.
The reality is that Mental Illness Stigma is very real, and plays a role in everything we do. The reality is that every time you say the word 'crazy' or 'insane' in a negative connotation you give power to ableism and the stigma saying that individuals with Mental Illness are unpredictable, violent, and extreme. It gives power into allowing individuals to believe that someone like me should not be allowed to be on the streets on their own, or at the very least to take charge of their lives and make decisions that affect their lives.
That is the power of 'crazy'.
Think, just for a moments about the types of words that'd have to be used to replace it in your daily life, and you will see that you are mostly using it in the most negative of ways. Now realize that 'crazy' describes a group of people. Would you describe us the same way? If your answer is yes, then you and I need to have a very serious conversation. If no, then know that you are building a culture where individuals die every day because the stigma is so bad all around the world that they don't seek help, help that could've saved their lives.
If you still don't see how harmful things like this are, then let me be very clear. Just like good intentions don't hurt individuals any less, you don't have to understand this. You just need to believe someone like me, with 22 years of Mental Illness experience, years of speaking out about Ableism all around the world, is an individual that suffers from your use of this world regardless if we ever meet or not. 'Crazy' hurts. Please stop.
Ahmad Abojaradeh is the Co-Founder of Muslim Community Link, An Engineer, a world traveler, a Peer Support Specialist, a Novelist and the founder and editor of Life in My Days. He hopes to spread awareness of living a life of wellness through his writing, workshops and speaker events. Follow Ahmad on twitter, instagram or facebook.