There are so many words one can choose to describe a feeling. Crazy should not be one of them. I hear it often just haphazardly tossed out to label or judge what someone else is feeling. Calling someone else crazy does a few things. One, it takes all the accountability away from the person saying it and puts it on the so called “crazy” person. Second, it is a blanket word that dismisses the true emotion that that person is feeling. Third, whatever has happened for a person to get to a state where they are deemed “crazy” is completely discounted. And, what does it say about the person saying it? When I hear a person called crazy, I immediately look to the person saying the word and question what they have contributed to that situation. Someone’s mental health can not and should not ever be called crazy. Instead, let’s get to the root of why that person was called that in the first place and just give it another name.
I thought about this last night when I had the thought cross my own mind that boy was I feeling crazy right now. Then I thought more about it and realized that crazy does not do my current situation justice at all! I’m not crazy. I’m overwhelmed. I’m bone tired. I’m in pain. I’m feeling helpless, lonely, manic, and hopeless all at the same time. With the handful of thoughts and events that were swirling around my head it was no wonder I was feeling the feeling I was.
Here is what was really going on. I couldn’t sleep. I was thinking about the list of house projects that need to be done and no people to actually do. I was thinking about my dog who is dying of cancer and needing to go out every few hours…would he wake me up 3 times tonight or would I actually get sleep. I was thinking about my daughter. She has been sick for over 2 years now. I so desperately want her to be well. I went over and over the last two years of her ER trips and Doctor appointments and prayed for guidance on where to turn next. I was thinking about all of these things and just couldn’t sleep. Soon after, my daughter told me she was feeling dizzy, my dog had to go out, and it was now 2 am. As soon as the dog went out a skunk sprayed. The smell made me ill. I could smell it seeping into the house and my daughter started to cough. I started to throw up. At this point it was 3 am and I thought to myself I am feeling absolutely crazy right now. My head was churning with anxiety. My heart rate was 130. I realized at this point I had been up too long. Done too much. My muscles most likely would not even work the next day so how on earth would I take care of my daughter while my husband is at work. This was not crazy. Let’s call it what it really is. Let’s give it a name that sums up what I was going through that validates that magnitude of feelings I was feeling. I can’t. There isn’t one word. Crazy is just a word that people sometimes use which describes what happens to someone’s mind who has been pushed beyond what they thought they would be capable of and yet still are trying to hold it together. But it nowhere near is an appropriate word to encompass even one night in the life of me!
So when I hear someone called crazy. I wonder. What is that person really feeling? Is she overwhelmed? Sad? What has happened that day to make her behave in a manor that someone would say that? AND why does that have to be labeled as crazy? I’ve seen men throw things, punch things, yell things, and they aren’t called crazy. They are just being men! But if I were to throw a picture across the room I would most definitely be called crazy. Why can’t I just be angry? Toss a frame and be told, ” Wow, she must be angry!” Not, “wow she’s crazy.”
Another example of misuse of that word…I saw my neighbor once do a crazy sign behind his wife’s back because she was upset about something. Calling her crazy meant it was ALL on her. The words coming out of her mouth, her demeanor, her body language, weren’t crazy! By him doing that I only thought 1. He is extremely shallow and disrespectful. 2. How sad for her to have a husband who thought more about how it may look for her to be upset than to validate why she was upset in the first place.
It is easy to call someone crazy so that way you don’t have to really care about what they are really feeling.
If someone is called crazy for their behavior how do you think it feels to have such conflicting emotions that no one can see at all? I look at, say Susie, and the criticism she has received for acting out on her emotions and I think, ” I can’t imagine what that person would then think about what is going on in my mind right now!! If Susie is called crazy for her behavior what would I be called for my thoughts?”
This stigma on “crazy” is one more reason that women keep silent about what is really going on with them. Suicidal thoughts, despair, deep depression, negative thoughts, fears, hopelessness, anxiety, rape, sexual abuse, are all kept a secret. We don’t want to be called crazy. So we don’t share our inner most thoughts because if Susie can’t throw something then we most definitely cannot say that we are feeling out of control in our own minds! How many women finally come forward with their stories of abuse and are brushed off with “That’s crazy” In other words, that’s not true and we don’t believe you. If they aren’t believed in what happened to them, they surely won’t tell a soul the fear and isolation they also feel.
I’ve been afraid to share my thoughts out of fear of being called crazy. I didn’t want others to use my feelings against me. When I expressed my true emotions and the details of what happened when I was abused, my stepfather replied and said that I needed therapy. What he really said was ” We don’t need to do the right thing. We don’t need to be accountable. We don’t need to love you or comfort you or validate you. This is all your problem. We can wash our hands of it because you just need to get therapy.” Right. Because I’m just crazy right?
So I have been conditioned back as a child and even now. I cannot say what I really feel because for fear of how my family will spin it in their favor. Me being crazy means they have an out. But I am not crazy.
This pressure to be strong, this pressure to be perfect is a burden I can nolonger carry. If being weak means I am an easy target for them to blame me then that is a flaw in them, not me. I should be able to be vulnerable, feel weak, and not have it used against me. So should everyone else.
We shouldn’t be so afraid of being called crazy that we silence what needs to be released. It is okay to let yourself be. It does not make you crazy just because you are allowing yourself to feel. Shoot I was put in a mental hospital and I was NOT crazy!!! I wanted to die, I didn’t want to see the man who abused me everyday anymore, I didn’t know how to cope with the abuse I suffered, I didn’t know how to cope with my family, but I wasn’t crazy.
I want to change the language of mental health. I want crazy to be removed. it limits, it hinders, it silences, it accuses, it blames, it minimizes, it judges.
I am not crazy. You are not crazy. We may feel lost, frantic, angry, sorrowful, or confused. Give your emotions the correct and appropriate word that describes them best. Make your emotions and your state of mind a safe place to be. Know that anyone that chooses to call you crazy is clueless to what you have endured and what you have overcome. For all of the many words in the human language that we can use to describe how we feel, choosing “crazy”, is not choosing the clear truth or respect that we deserve. We are far more than one word. But if I had to choose, just one, I would say we are SURVIVORS.