Stop Infantilizing Me

I’m mentally ill, not a child.

Sam Ripples
Published in
5 min readJul 7, 2020


Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash

“Don’t have a temper tantrum, Sam.”

The two of us stood in the kitchen, tension impregnating the air between us. I could feel a panic attack coming on, my breath coming in short and scattered bursts, but my roommate didn’t understand what was happening. In her head, my panicked state was a temper tantrum because I didn’t get what I wanted. Even after almost a year of living together, she still didn’t understand my mental health one iota.

This is not uncommon — for most of my life, people have told me that I act like a child when the symptoms of my mental disorders come over me. “Temper tantrum” is the most common phrase used to describe my panic attacks and flashbacks, despite the fact that I’ve tried to explain over and over to those that I love that it is not, in fact, just me flying off the handle like a child because I don’t get what I want. Not being in control of your behavior is difficult, especially when others assume you’re mentally deficient and unable to be an adult because of it, instead of just suffering from a deeply difficult problem with your brain and body that is out of your control.

But just because I struggle with a multitude of mental illnesses does not mean I am a child. Recently, someone I loved compared me to a 10-year-old because I was getting riled up…