I am learning that words have more power than even I a lover of words realised. Consider saying: “I am depressed” – it connotes a sense of self, immersed in depression. That that is the totality of who I am. Instead say “I am feeling depressed” – this brings with it the idea that depression is merely a mood state, like happiness of anger is. I am learning that defining how I feel does not define me.
Diagnoses are a professional application of words. The symptoms of A, B and Z equals this diagnosis, but those of A, B and F equals a completely different one. They can strike at my sense of self like blows, hitting the very way that I have defined myself. They undermine my belief in who I am and even how I am, Often causing more anguish than relief. Not to mention the continual trial of medication to find what might eliminate the symptoms, but never erasing the actual condition from my body or brain, and bringing it with the addition of side effects to manage.
Labels create the same problems. But are often given to us by society or even people that are supposed to care about us. Often through fear or lack of understanding or even simply wanting to label the unknown to make it familiar. The labels of “mentally ill”, “insane”, “obese”, “depressed”, “stupid” etc etc. While they may define a part of my reality, they exploit that which can be seen or guessed at, while denying that person could be and should be anything else.
If we take “words” as gospel, we accept their meaning too. Of course it is open to interpretation where a word can mean one thing to me and another to you, or in different cultures. If I accept I am depressed rather than I am experiencing the mood of depression it feels ever harder to actually not feel it is all that I am. It makes what is happening to me so much worse. When people know and treat me differently it just adds more pain to an already near intolerable situation.
Be careful of the words you use and how. They can be as lethal as the bullet fired carelessly from a gun – dead is still dead no matter the lack of intent in a carelessly fired gun. The words used can create a similar wound in the person hearing them, your intent in using them is just irrelevant compared to how the person hearing them responds. You may never know the wound you caused because many of us hold them within us and eventually blame ourselves for being hurt by them. Just be careful …