Political correctness has swept the field of medicine from dermatology to pediatrics, and certainly psychiatry has had its share of terminology-laundering. As a mental patient, I face the PC question on a daily basis: "Loony-bin," "funny farm," and "nut case" are out, for obvious reasons, but some very, very sensitive people, with an eye for anything offensive, have declared that "mental patient" and "mentally ill" are out as well; the words are ugly and shameful. These folks think they're doing us a favor by inventing another, more pleasant word for what we really are: "Consumers."
"Consumer" is a euphemism, and because of this, the user of the term is implying that our illness is of minimal importance; instead, our role in the economics of medicine is of more concern. But let's face it: "Consumer" has nothing to do with mental health.
The dance floor is alive and I am dazed. The music is loud enough to block out the subtle sounds that usually give shape to space, turning everyone into an amorphous and shifting landscape doused in bad eighties pop music. "This is great!" my three friends say, trying to describe the aged and the eccentric, the hip young graduate students next to the vintage novelists. We are undergraduates at a large industry conference for writers and we have been waiting all week to attend this party, speculating what might happen when the bitter rejected writers and the overworked and jaded publishers at this conference consume a few drinks.
The nerves start the week before. This was a bad idea. What am I thinking of, putting myself up in front of people? Agreeing to talk to people when my social anxiety's been so bad for years that my neighbors are beginning to wonder if I'm a vampire, if I ever come out of the house. Maybe if I stay huddled up in bed, the curtains drawn, no one will remember that I'm supposed to be signing books tomorrow. Maybe we can all forget the whole thing and go back to how we were.