The very words you use shape how you, and those with whom you talk, perceive people who experience mood swings, fear, voices and visions. So my second suggestion, about language, is harder.

The words in which we think about things shape our understandings. When you use professional shorthand, talk about a schizophrenic or the mentally ill, the person with the disability fades into the background, invisible.

I am asking you not to use professional expert medical words and instead to use ordinary language, people-first language. Distinguish me from my disability. Not, ever, schizophrenic, but person, a person who ... plays the tuba, hears voices, lives in Rome, ... .

Mostly you see us in crisis, as a patient. Use your imagination to envision a whole and individual person. Yes, the crisis can be diagnosed and categorized and treated based on evidence, and the crisis is embedded in a whole and unique individual and it is that whole person, not just the diseased portion, who wants to partner with you for wellness.

What may seem chaotic to you and requiring control and intervention is the ground of my life, my mind. Naming that as illness leaves me without redemption. I'd like to be the creator of the model that sorts things out, not have a model thrust upon me. Help me build a world, a way of understanding my mind, in which I can flourish. Humans are defined by their capacity for self-determination. Don't take that away from me. Humans are defined by our self-consciousness. When you say I lack insight I feel put down; I feel that you have denied my very humanity.

You are scientists and are trained in finding patterns and fitting people and data into categories. And I am asking you to look at the uniqueness. Because the goal of care must be the outcome I choose, stated in the words I use. Using whole- person language can help.