This semester I am taking an upper level biology class, and the professor for the class has really surprised me. My professor who has a PhD in genetics, often uses the term "OCD", when describing things like assignments that require a lot of details. OCD is a real diagnosis, not an adjective used for meticulous work. I expect better from my professors and from Emory. When you say things like "sorry for being OCD about this, but I need it done like that" you are automatically saying that OCD is a weakness or a bad thing, and it is anything but that. How can professors expect for their class to be a welcoming environment to learn in if a student felt like they were being made fun of every day in the class?
We need to continue talking about mental health, because we need to make sure people have access to the resources and support that they need. We need to continue the conversation so that people stop misusing diagnosis terms as adjectives. So that we stop judging people when they miss events or class because of a depressive episode or panic attack. So that we do not try to dismiss their feelings. This is not being over sensitive, their feelings are valid. This is being aware of discrimination and ableism. Ableism is defined as discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities. This includes mental illness and mental health.
If I have learned anything these past seven months, it is that there is still a very long way to go for mental health care. I am thankful for the care that I have received but in ways it is a new field. The way we treat the illness has dramatically changed in the last 100 years, but because of that I feel that it is still behind the rest of medicine. I was recently started taking medication to hopefully reduce the nightmares that I have been having for the last 7 months. What I found was just one big guessing game, but one that I was familiar with. When you see a doctor about medication for mental illness the doctor evaluates you and what you are experience and then they look at a list of approved medications that have proven to work, and then decide what they think the best fit would be. And spoiler alert, sometimes it's not the best fit! Sometimes the medication that is supposed to stop your nightmares ends up causing you to sleep so deeply that you can't wake up from the nightmares and then you are just left with the vivid memories of the nightmares the next morning.
People that struggle with their mental health deserve our support. Why can't we give that to them? Why do we struggle as a society to let them know that we want them to get the help they are looking for? Why do we think that this is not a real health problem? Why are we not taking mental health seriously?