Call Me Crazy

I’ve recently entered the big wide world of mental health bloggers. I’ve struggled with my mental health since I was 16 (from what I remember — my psychiatrist says it seems I was showing symptoms even before then), but didn’t get into blogging until earlier this year and didn’t become a mental health advocate until a few months ago.

And I’m so, so happy I did. The people I’ve ‘met’ are incredible survivors of diseases that are plaguing not only my nation but the whole world. Disorders that far too many people misunderstand. I’m honored to be among so many beautiful souls in helping to raise awareness and open people’s’ eyes in our plight to eradicate stigma, help others suffering, and so much more.

That being said, I’ve noticed a common feeling among most of those living with mental illness (or mental difference, as some prefer to call it, and I’m trying to train myself to do the same). They do not like to be called crazy. They won’t call themselves crazy, the won’t let you call them crazy, they won’t do I what I do and refer to their symptoms as their ‘crazies’.

It’s like Hancock up in here.

CALL ME CRAZY . . . ONE MORE TIME.
(Shoutout to KateCherry for giving me this idea.)

I’m not saying their points aren’t valid. I completely understand and respect their feelings. From a certain standpoint, crazy does add to the stigma; instead of seeing us as people with diseases, it’s arguable that the c-word makes us into flawed objects and contributes to spreading misinformation.

Because we’re not crazy — we’re just like you, only different. Pretty much like how you’re just like us, only different. We don’t want to be seen as our mental illness. We want to be seen as people living with mental illness. You wouldn’t call someone with cancer cancerous, would you?

So I get that view.

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However, crazy has become common. It’s normal. Everyone is ‘crazy’ — everyone is called ‘crazy’ at some point or another. As I said above, I call my symptoms my ‘crazies’. Because they are crazy. Becoming so attached to my therapist after three weeks that I nearly have an emotional breakdown when I can’t see her for two is crazy. Hating Jack with such a passion that I fantasize about horrible, horrible things happening to him, but then throwing a fucking fit, screaming, crying, dropping to the floor and begging when he tries to leave is crazy. Not being able to shower for three weeks is crazy. Not wanting to shower ever is crazy.

Some of the things we do are crazy. Some of the things mentally healthy people do are crazy. At this very moment, people are pouring buckets of ice water on their heads to ‘raise awareness’ for ALS, only half of them don’t mention ALS at all. That’s crazy. I even heard that the Ice Bucket Challenge started as a jokester thing between celebrities, but somehow ALS took it overThat’s crazy. Growing up, my friends would try to make their own versions of Jackass. That’s crazy.

When I search for “crazy” photos on Flickr, I find stuff like this:

The consensus seems to be that crazy means silly animals, funny faces, and Obama-haters. I’m okay with that. (Although I’d rather not be linked to Obama-haters, because they are cray.)

The world is crazy and the people in it are crazy. That’s just how it is.

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According to Dictionary.com, the adjective crazy has 10 meanings.

1. mentally deranged; demented; insane.
2. senseless; impractical; totally unsound.
3. (Informal.) intensely enthusiastic; passionately excited.
4. (Informal.) very enamored or infatuated (usually followed by about).
5. (Informal.) intensely anxious or eager; impatient.
6. (Informal.) unusual; bizarre; singular.
7. (Slang.) wonderful; excellent; perfect.
8. likely to break or fall to pieces.
9. weak, infirm, or sickly.
10. having an unusual, unexpected, or random quality, behavior, result, pattern, etc.

The first one, yes, it’s rude and hostile and contributes to stigma and shouldn’t be said about anyone. If you didn’t know, those are derogatory words when referring to a human being. (Insane is arguable, but that’s not why we’re here.)

However, I can tell you for certain that I am often senseless and impractical; enthusiastic and excited; enamored or infatuated; anxious, eager, and impatient; unusual and bizarre; and I am most definitely wonderful, excellent, and perfect. And you know what? I become those things tenfold (or perceive that I do) during an episode.

Sometimes I am likely to break or fall to pieces. Does anything better describe how one feels when they’re depressed?

I am not weak, but occasionally I feel weak. Infirm and sickly, though, describe my worst times.

And this last one, well, who doesn’t have unusual, unexpected, or random qualities? Isn’t that what mental disorders are all about?

*  *  *  *  *

After the adjective, Dictionary.com has two more definitions for the plural noun crazies.

11. (Slang.) an unpredictable, nonconforming person; oddball.
12. the crazies: (Slang.) a sense of extreme unease, nervousness, or panic;         extreme jitters.

You read some of my posts and tell me if I’m unpredictable, nonconforming, and an oddball. Because I’ll be the first to admit it.

And oh, look at that. My tell-tale sign, the crazies. Although mine aren’t limited to extreme unease, nervousness, panic or extreme jitters. Instead my crazies are pretty much any weird little (or big) quirk I have. (I also call them quirks.) (And weird.)

The world doesn’t seem to perceive crazy all that horribly.

*  *  *  *  *

On the other hand, there’s the term mentally ill. Honestly, I don’t know if this is an accepted term or not. Mentally different is (and again, I’m trying to teach myself to use it), but when we talk about our mental illnesses most people correlate that with the label mentally ill — not crazy.

What do you think when you hear the words mentally ill? Because I am living with mental illness, and I sure as hell don’t think happy, sugar-plum thoughts. I think the same thing Flickr does:

Keep the stereotype alive, Flickr users.

I do not want to be associated with these things. When people find out that I have Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder — when they learn that I am ‘mentally ill‘, I do not want them to think of padded rooms and old, abandoned, creepy mental institutions where patients endured inane, inhumane, and insane experiments. I don’t want them to think that I am unfit for the real world.

Because I’m not.

*  *  *  *  *

Dictionary.com has only one definition for mentally ill:

having a mental illness.

And of course, that’s true. But I can’t help but wonder why there is only one definition. Is it really that clear-cut, or are the stereotypes too crude to publicize?

*  *  *  *  *

To be crazy is to be normal nowadays. No, it’s not particularly kind to call someone struggling with their mental health the c-word. After all, any seemingly simple word can affect people differently.

But I’ll take crazy over mentally ill any day. So go ahead, call me crazy. A million more times. I promise I won’t throw a car at you — instead I’ll just laugh along.

To (mis)quote the Cheshire CatWe’re all crazy here. I’m crazy, you’re crazy. You must be, otherwise you wouldn’t have come here.

*  *  *  *  *



What do you think about the term ‘crazy’? ‘Mentally ill’? What about all the others — ‘mental disorder’, ‘mental illness’, ‘mental difference’, etc. Do you have a preferred term? Do you use the word ‘crazy’ in any aspect of your life? Why do you think it’s different for those suffering from a mental disorder? Let me know!

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23 thoughts on “Call Me Crazy

  1. I don’t think people are often crazy, but behaviour can be. A person who is obsessed and sets up fake email accounts pretending to be her spouse in order to manipulate people? That’s crazy behaviour. A person who sends parcels under false names to trick people into opening them. That’s crazy behaviour. A person who keeps telling you they’re a nice person while all the time behaving meanly and cruelly? That’s crazy behaviour. But she’s not crazy. She’s just manipulative and bad. Crazy is ok, crazy kind of makes someone not responsible because they can’t help it. She’s not crazy. She’s just manipulative.

    Which raises an interesting question: do. Sociopaths and people with narcissistic personality disorder and histrionic personality disorder get to be crazy or are they responsible for their actions? They’re practically incurable so it matters.

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    • Nearly all mental health disorders are “uncurable,” but that doesn’t mean they can’t be manageable. When I take my proper meds that keep me from spiraling into a depressive or manic episode, that doesn’t mean I’m cured — I’m just managing my illness. When therapy helps me, it doesn’t cure me — it helps me manage.

      That being said, I think the majority of people should be at least partially held accountable for their actions. Partially. If someone has a disease that lies to them and fully convinces them that the best thing for everyone would be to take their own life, then no, they should not be held accountable. Depression did that.

      If someone suffers from a disorder that lies to them and fully convinces them that making fake email accounts, using false names, and behaving manipulatively is the best thing and what they should be doing, no they shouldn’t be held accountable. Their disorder did that.

      When a person with a mental illness becomes convinced that the only way to save their children is by killing them, I don’t blame the person. I blame the illness. Because mental illnesses can wreak havoc on your brain and make you do things without even realizing you’re doing them.

      However, a lot of people are slightly aware that what they’re doing is wrong. When I’m depressed and ignore my son, I know it’s wrong. I try to change. Some days I get out of bed, others I don’t. But I sought out help because I knew something needed to be done. If someone knows something needs to be done and doesn’t try to do it, yes, they’re responsible for what they do. The key words there, though, are KNOWS and TRY.

      So I can’t help you with this woman you insist on talking about. I don’t know her. I don’t know what’s going on in her head or if her illness is lying to her or what illness she definitely has or if she even has one. Maybe she is just a horrible, horrible person. Or maybe she suffers from a horrible, horrible disease. I simply can’t make that call.

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  2. I was totally thinking of Hancock when I wrote that post! Lol. On the internet and in books, when I read, trying to understand this, they usually start out saying-“borderline personality disorder is a serious mental Illness that has to be taken seriously.” I am mentally ill but no one needs to refer to me as that. Just put up with me! :)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. But I also don’t mind if, when I’m being crazy, people tell me I’m being crazy.

      Information about Borderline Personality Disorder has come a long way — just ten years ago when I was first diagnosed (but didn’t take the diagnosis seriously), barely anyone else had the same diagnosis and knowledge was very limited. Many of my friends still don’t believe I have it because they’re stuck in the old idea that it has to make you completely out of control all the time. Thankfully we’re kind of getting somewhere now.

      And seriously thank you for putting that idea into my head. I watched the clip like ten times because it’s so hilarious to me for some reason. Haha

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The phrase “mentally ill” doesn’t make me crazy (yet), but it does make me nervous for a bunch of reasons. It’s not the phrase itself as much as the way it’s so often used: to sort some people into a category that is then used to explain their behavior. “Why did she try to commit suicide?” “Because she’s mentally ill.” Not so long ago the question might have been “Why did she leave her husband?” (“Because she’s mentally ill” — not, of course, because he was abusive, or drunk, or boring.) I have friends who as teenagers were sent to shrinks or committed to mental hospitals because they came out as gay or lesbian — they were “mentally ill,” the DSM said so.

    Some people think we’ll be safer if we keep firearms out of the hands of the “mentally ill.” What if possessing or carrying a firearm contributes to “mental illness”? We say someone “went crazy and started shooting.” Maybe that’s exactly what happened.

    As implemented in our society, the illness model tends to put the focus too much on the individual and not enough on the individual’s circumstances. Prolonged isolation and poverty can cause depression — maybe not what the neuroscientists and shrinks call “clinical depression,” but does the distinction really matter?

    What it comes down to is that I don’t know what “normal” is and I’m suspicious of those who are sure they do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t believe there is a normal. I completely believe that we are an overly diagnosed, overly medicated nation and many, many people maybe just need a little therapy to help them work through their “normal” problems, but some psychiatrists are so quick to put a label on people. Which sucks for those like me and so many others who really do have a mental illness.

      I fear the term “mentally ill” because it carries the horrible stigma of people in straightjackets who try to jerk off on the mailman and eat other people’s faces. First, those people are suffering, too. Second, mental illness has so many different faces, I think “mentally ill” contributes to trying to put one face on all of us.

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  4. I love this post … it made me laugh, and it made me think.

    ‘Crazy’ is a word I don’t really mind; there was a time when it definitely applied – I was psychotic, and therefore ‘crazy.’ My psychiatrist referred to my psychotic episodes as ‘insane,’ but I preferred ‘crazy.’ For me, ‘insane’ conjured up images of unwashed people in dirty clothes with bad teeth in dark allies – or worse; blithering, drooling zombie-type people all alone and forgotten, strapped to a bed in some dilapidated asylum.

    My kids refer to me in the throes of psychosis [when it comes up in conversation] as a Loon – short for lunatic, not the bird. I’m OK with that – having a sense of humor has helped us all to deal with what happened, and my illnesses in general. And, of course, they [my irreverent children again] refer to the hospital I was in as ‘The Bin,’ as in, Looney Bin – here again, being able to laugh at some of this has given us the strength to get through it and heal.

    Yeah, my illnesses are serious – and they aren’t curable. They require management and diligent care; I take them seriously — but I try not to take myself too seriously.

    I’m living with mental illness. Living, laughing and loving. People, whether or not they too have a mental illness, can call it whatever they like – I’m not defined by that anymore than I am defined by the illnesses themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you=]

      “Crazy” to me is normal. When there’s a car crash, we say “That’s crazy!” When my kid is hyper, I say “He’s being crazy.” When something looks cool we say “Look how crazy!” I feel like.. people referred to me as “crazy” since I was little. Why should I start to take offense now?

      “Insane” doesn’t really hold such a negative stigma for me. The first thing that comes to mind is when someone “pleads insanity” in court, and most of the time those people are just normal people like you and me, but their illness got the better of them.

      “Mentally ill” for me, however, holds the same stigma “insane” does for you. And I don’t want people to think of me like that when they find out I’m struggling.

      My son’s father, and my strongest supporter, and someone who is living with mental illness himself, calls psychiatrists and therapists “quacks”, mental hospitals “loony bins,” and himself and me “crazy”. Like you, I don’t mind. I can laugh along. Those phrases have become normal for me and I don’t think they hold the negative connotations many people think they do.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think “people” like to label things that they don’t understand or refuse to educate themselves on the topic. I find that the more I know about a topic, the less black and white it is and I see all of the shades of grey.

    I don’t ever think of my wife’s bi-polar issues as making her “crazy.” She routinely say she doesn’t know why I am okay with having a a crazy wife, but I usually brush it aside. I also don’t even like to say she has a mental illness, the connotations are too negative and stereotypical in my mind. If people ask, I simply say she has mental health issues but let’s be quite honest, who doesn’t?!

    My biggest issue is that the uninformed see people with mental health issues as “broken” or having “phantom issues.” Phantom in the sense that if you cannot see it (i.e. a broken bone) then is must not be real. Everyone has mental health issues, just to a greater or lesser degree. Find me someone who hasn’t felt alone, hopeless, depressed, angry or emotionally compromised and I will say you have found a liar or someone who is already deceased (or perhaps a zombie).

    Trying to define what is (positive or negative) mental health or the “norm” is like trying to define or set limits to the human spirit. How bout we stop wasting time trying to define it and focus our energies on understanding how to better help individuals that suffer the most from it?

    It will always be a tough uphill battle to change perceptions of the blissfully ignorant. There are some days when I swear there is a village idiot convention and I am smack dab in the middle of it. Other days (especially when I started blogging) I feel to be the fool among the enlightened.

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    • I think the labels help me. I knew I was struggling for years and years, and without the label I seriously felt insane. Now I know I’m just like many other people in the world, and I know how to start managing my issues better.

      So I think some people benefit from labels, while others don’t. Really, we should be more open and willing as humans to accept and support those who want labels and those who don’t, instead of trying to force everyone into the same category.

      I completely agree with you about ignorance and black and white. AND “phantom issues” — that’s my biggest problem right now. All the people I had hoped would support me are now convinced that psychiatrists diagnose everyone and everyone, and really I’m perfectly fine and just lazy. Sometimes I’m fine, sometimes I’m not. And both are okay.

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  6. I didn’t know if you saw, but I did finally answer your questions in one of my recent posts! I apologize for taking so long! Anywho, I burst out laughing when you said “keep the stereotype alive flickr users.” You are too funny! Your blog has become my role model! Being called crazy is typical and mental illness, well that’s just downright common anymore…whether people embrace it or not! I hope you haven’t dealt with too many mental illness-related stigmas!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I did see it! I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time to do anything other than ‘like’ people’s posts, and I want to comment on yours so I’ve been adding them all to my favorites for when I get a break for a few minutes. So expect some comments soon. Haha

      And thank you so much! For some reason, I guess my new-found low self-esteem, I thought you weren’t going to like me. See, there I go being crazy again. =]

      Thankfully I haven’t had to deal with much stigma myself, but I am surrounded by it. The only thing I’ve really had to deal with is the “oh, psychiatrists are handing out diagnoses and meds like candy — you’re perfectly fine” stigma. Which probably drives me the most crazy, but that might be because I haven’t experienced the others.

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  7. I can cope with crazy. We are all that. But the words that really make me mad (yep, I can take that too) are ‘stupid’ or ‘silly’. Obviously not terms used to define any disorder but all too often used when discussing them.

    An excellent post. One of my favourites. X

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much!

      I agree — I think. If you’re talking about people disregarding mental illness as something imagined. Because I’m experiencing that with my (non)support system right now — everyone thinks I’m being stupid and silly and making all this up.

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      • During therapy this week I decided that if someone had taken me seriously at sixteen I would have saved myself fifteen years worth of self destructive behaviour. Sad to think that I might have saved myself sooner if only someone had listened to what I had to say. Mental illness (or whatever label you wish to use) is real even when irrational. Maybe especially when it is… X

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Obviously there are far more “positive” definitions of crazy than “negative,” but I also believe in what the mad movement, like the queer movement, does: Yes, I’m crazy. (I’m mad. I’m nuts. etc.) What of it? If you embrace the term and turn it on its head then you take away the negative connotation. Yeah, I’m crazy and I have a mental illness. Why pussy foot around it. I’m not just mentally different. I’m hella crazy. (Actually, I’m not, but I love to exaggerate.) I deal with it. Deal with it. I’m here and though I’m not queer, I’m crazy.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Tempest … I have a lot of work to do so have not read all of your blog .. but just enough to share with you the fact that you are pretty normal. I know americans love to give themselves titles … bi-polar etc etc. Let me share the truth of who you are. You are a spirit being in touch with the other world of mind as this one on earth. All must undertake this journey .. but few understand it. I saw the cheshire cat and and completely linked with you .. for I write a lot of it. Mostly as myself. I too was once called mad but the fact is that genius … or the capacity to be one must make you different to begin with. Start a journey to perfect success through my book MasterMind. When you read my book you will begin to understand yourself in a way you never did think possible .. i.e. in total love and total acceptance and move on from there.

    Liked by 1 person

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