Why I’m Going to Stop Using the Word “Crazy”

I don’t know where I read it, but I read it somewhere online. It was a person who just got diagnosed with a mental illness like bipolar or something, and then an acquaintance randomly said to her, “You’re so crazy!”

Of course she understood that her acquaintance wasn’t aware that she just got diagnosed with this illness, and she understood that the comment was supposed to be a compliment pertaining to her fun energy, but still the word “crazy” stung her.

As a feminist and an equal rights activist, I am aware that there are words that are loaded with such a negative history like the B-word for women, the N-word for African Americans, and the F-word for homosexuals. Yet, I never thought about how the word “crazy” and derivatives thereof can have a similar effect on people.

More than that, I realized that I never want to be in a position where I will hurt someone because I was liberally using those words. I realized that there might be people around me who might be genuinely struggling with mental illness, and so such a careless use of the word, no matter how positive my intention is, can hurt them.

They can’t even call me out if they get hurt because not all of them will be ready to disclose their condition to every person they meet, so these people have to silently struggle with the pain I insensitively inflicted on them. I don’t want to be that kind of person. I don’t want to hurt people then make them feel guilty about feeling bad. I don’t want to hide behind excuses like “Well, I didn’t mean it!” or “Don’t take it so personally!”

So I decided that if I don’t really need to use that word, then I will skip using it. As a concrete step, I changed my blog categories like “Crazy and Fun Stories” or “High School Madness” into “Fun Stories” or “High School Fun”. If I come across any past entries here that have those words, then I will edit them out.

This is of course a debate about political correctness, and sometimes this issue can run up against notions of free speech. As a writer who have been using these words for a long time, it is a struggle to find alternatives to these words, but hell there’s always a thesaurus. I can make that adjustment. It’s a tiny price to pay to make sure that I don’t hurt people who are battling something serious in their lives.

This is a commitment that I want to make for myself. I hope I won’t forget this commitment, and I hope I figure out when it is ok to use these words or if I should never, in all circumstances, use these words.

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Note: For some entries in this blog, a few names and details have been deliberately and willingly changed by the author. This is a personal decision made by the author for specific reasons known to her and is not an endorsement for censorship.


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