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Why Mental Illness Should Not Be Used to Describe the Weather

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

Recently, the United States has been riddled with terrible weather. A few truly devastating storms have ripped through unsuspecting areas. However, no matter if the sun manages to shine the next day or we get a snow storm in May, the weather is not bipolar.

Bipolar, manic, schizo and ADD are used extremely loosely in conversation and although we should be comfortable talking about neurological conditions casually, we should not pass on the ignorance.

Bipolar disorder, in particular, is a serious disorder. People have a hard time living at all when they suffer from it and many harm themselves due to it. The weather does not have depression or mania.

Just because your classmate gets heavily distracted does not mean that they are ADD. Just because the stranger you pass on the street talks to themselves, that does not mean that they are schizophrenic. Because one of your friends is super excited does not mean they are manic.

You can use terms like “indecisive” to describe the weather, “energetic” to describe your classmate, “introspective” to describe the stranger and “excited” to describe your friend. It’s that easy to not belittle mental illnesses and their effects on people.

I attend a support group for people who suffer from bipolar disorder and quite a few people were actually distressed at the fact that they were being compared to tornadoes, hurricanes and other disastrous weather. They are people, not storms.

You hurt people with mental illness in two ways when you use these terms. You spread the ignorance that the weather is like a disorder and you also hurt those who have those terms applied to them.

Imagine if someone said that you were like the weather. A horrible storm has gone through a town and killed 14 people. Then you hear someone say, “Wow, that storm is so much like [your name.]” How would you feel? This is why these terms should stop. Find other ways to show the contrasting weather, you could potentially save a life.

Mary McLean (nee Moody) is an avid writer and the Editor-in-Chief of Her Campus at VCU. She is currently double majoring in Political Science and History at Virginia Commonwealth University. She has published three novels and is working on her fourth. She loves her cats Sully and Remy and will always mention them in every conversation. You can find her looking at memes all night and chugging KickStart in the morning with her husband.
Keziah is a writer for Her Campus. She is majoring in Fashion Design with a minor in Fashion Merchandising. HCXO!