Terminology is Key

Trigger words can be so simple and so easy to use.

The use of words in our daily vocabulary can make the difference between creating a mental health friendly environment and creating a space where you feel almost attacked for struggling with certain things.

My family is very good at the not so ideal usage of „mental health words“, what I like to call them…

Conversations like, „Do you want a glass of wine?“ „No, I am not an alcoholic!“ out of nowhere and with no reason. Or „After my depression about my messed up nails, I really needed ice cream“,or „Oh you‘re a baker, I thought the burns on your arms come from cutting yourself, they look like the typical cutters marks.“ „Depression hit hard when I didn’t get to See on that famous person in real life.“ „I have been clean for three weeks, I haven’t slept with earplugs since.“ „Yes, I am an addict, I can‘t stop [something ridiculous].“ Etc.

As someone who deals with depression, addiction, self harm, and stuff like that, it breaks my heart to see my family say things that hurt so much, to joke about suicide, addiction, mental health, and depression, making it look ridiculous and sound insane.
Yes, I have tried to talk to them about it, but nothing changes their behavior, so I have learned to walk away and not listen to them when they start talking like that. Sometimes I almost run to my room because I do not want them to see my tears when they start joking about topics that are very real to me.
I know it is not healthy, but I try my best to educate them in a loving way, but one needs a willing student to get the point across…

I know they did not first hand experience the things I did, and that’s okay, I am glad they didn’t suffer in the ways I did and do, but that makes it even harder for them to understand my reactions And for me to explain and be heard.

When it comes to mental health, my family is not the most educated bunch of people and not the most sensitive group of humans, the comments they make about meds and therapists and places that help people like me is brutal and I will spare you the details.

It took me so long to bring up the courage to be honest to them about what’s going on inside of me, but they apparently haven’t learned from that, that the way they treat these examples of people, is essentially the way they treat me.

Just a couple of days ago my brother-in-law offered me to stay late after my nephews birthday party to get drunk. I don’t know how many times I tried to make my family understand that I am an alcoholic and do not want to drink anymore. Gladly I still have the excuse that when I am driving I can not have any alcohol in my system (here that’s the law for the first 3 years of driving) and I used the i have to drive card. He accepted that… but still…

I still haven’t gotten the treatment that I need to get better because their opinions and world views are holding me back and it is hurting me at the core of my being, but I am working on it.

Maybe one day they will understand that their statements are hurtful on levels that the simply cannot grasp because they just haven’t lived through it.

The terminology we use when talking about mental health makes the difference between being a safe place and a place you know you will be judged and outcast.

Please, think about the vocab you use when talking out loud, you never know who hears you and was about to open up to you or is now triggered and unable to deal with the situation.


From: bitemarque

I know that it can be really tough to hear people you love and should be able to trust say negative/thoughtless things. It took me years to be okay with myself after some things my family said without realizing that I was part of the group they were referencing. It is unfortunate that your family are not listening when you try to help them understand, but I applaud your effort. Know that you are not alone, and don’t be afraid to lean on the “safe” people in your life.


This entire post really resonated with me. It is SO important to be conscious of your words and the impact they have on other people!! You are so right that you just never know who is listening and who would be willing to share if you were a little more careful with your phrasing.

I’m so terribly sorry your family is not being sensitive to your mental illnesses. It really sucks to have to be the one to “educate” an entire group of people - especially when they don’t WANT the information you are spoon feeding them. I feel like you’re on the right path of just being consistent and persistent with your family.

I hope with time they change and are able to shift their own perspective and fix their behavior and words accordingly.

Thank you for sharing your experience and for the reminder that words really do matter. <3


From: alexaneronline

I’ve been there so many times! family not understanding mental health SUCKS!


Such a fair point and eye-opening subject. If that’s something you’d be comfortable to share on different online platforms, I’d highly encourage you to do it. First because you’re really good at writing, and secondly because that’s such an important subject. Your message is precious.

I really respect your perseverance in helping your family to educate themselves about mental health. It’s true that not experiencing the same things as you doesn’t make it easy to understand, but it doesn’t make it impossible. And it certainly doesn’t delete the possibility to actually try to understand and show some genuine interest to what you say. Especially since mental health is just part of human life. It’s so much more present than what people imagine sometimes. Definitely a lot of work to do on this matter, a lot of awareness to bring.

Honestly, that’s something I’ve been trying with my parents, but I gave up. The frustration and the amount of hurt due to that was too much to handle for me. Especially since I started to wonder if my mom didn’t do that just to trigger a reaction from me.

In any case, it is so important to use words wisely. You’re so right. Yes, the impact can be huge - whether it’s positive or negative.

Thank you for sharing this. It means a lot.

1 Like

Wow thank you, your response means a lot to me. I appreciate it!
Thank you!

1 Like