I call myself crazy. I do. I’ve written about it before. I also say, “I am bipolar,” so shoot me. It’s not that I say these things pejoratively, I don’t, I say them because they’re correct usages of the English language and they are accurate. Other people have a problem with this. But you know what, their problem is not my problem. If I want to call myself crazy, or bipolar, or a redhead that’s my business, not yours.
I started thinking about alcoholism the other day because of some stuff going on with a friend and I started to think about how high-functioning people often don’t consider themselves alcoholics because they’re high-functioning. How can I be an alcoholic; I have a job? A family. A wife. Friends. Money. A house. And so on…
And the same is true for people with bipolar disorder. People think to themselves, “I can’t have a mental illness – I have a job.” Or, “I can’t have a mental illness – I’m a good mother.” Or, “I can’t have a mental illness – I have a degree from a top-tier school.”
But as I have told audiences over and over – mental illness happens, and it can happen to anyone.
A pet peeve of mine is when people say, “normal is just a dryer setting.”
Um. No, it isn’t. Normal is a word that means “conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural.”
Normal is not just a freaking dryer setting and pardon me for stating the obvious, but I am bipolar and I am not normal.
As a writer I take claim to any and all words. They are mine and I do with them as I please. This includes mental illness / mental health terms. However, some people would argue that as a mental health writer and advocate, it is my responsibility to promote certain language and verbiage.
I did not agree to that.
I agreed to be a writer. I agreed to be opinionated. I agreed to be passionate. I agreed to be well-researched. I agreed to be intelligent. I did not agree to push a political agenda.
Mental Illness Words You Can’t Say
Nevertheless, people still insist that I not use the following words / phrases:
- Off his rocker
- Mentally unstable
- “The mentally ill”
- “I’m bipolar”
And about a million other things. The politically correct people have told me I’m not allowed to refer to anyone’s mental capacity in anything but the most politically correct way. Which is, in case you were wondering, a person with a mental illness or a person with bipolar disorder, etc.
Again, not to flog a horse that happens to be dead, but I have poetic license which means I get to do whatever I want with words.
I’m Bipolar. I’m Crazy. Sue Me.
I’ve talked about saying I’m bipolar before. I do not consider this to be belittling or stigmatizing and I’m sorry that you do, but that’s really not my problem. It’s a proper English statement with actual English words and if you don’t like it, feel free to take it up with Funk and Wagnells.
This is similar to the statement of I’m crazy. I am. It’s just the way it is. It’s reality. I’m using the words in a proper English fashion. Sue me.
Creative Terms for Crazy
And given all the political correctness in the world I certainly can’t use a term like whackjob or nutbar. Except, of course, that I do. I don’t use the terms liberally, I don’t apply them to the mentally ill, but I do use them. Because they’re words and I need words in order to express what I’m trying to say.
(In the case of something like bonkers I’m referring to someone with a tenuous grasp on logic, reason and sanity, which is not to say mentally ill. The most mentally well person can be nutbar – trust me.)
But I’m Offended!
Sorry to hear that. But perhaps you could respect a writer’s right to actually use words for self-expression. When I start using actual mental health terminology in a degrading way you can call me on it. Until then, I’m not terribly interested.
I’m Passionate. I Eschew Political Correctness.
One of the things people like (or perhaps loathe) about me is that I am passionate. That I am insanely (yes) attached to ideas and concepts and am willing to say so in a way that makes sense for me. And that doesn’t fall within the bounds of political correctness. Art never does. Poetry never does. Shakespeare never did. Political correctness forces tepidity. I have no intention of being tepid.
Fine Then, I Don’t Respect You
I’m sorry to hear that. But that’s OK by me. If you read more than a smattering of my work then you’ll know who I am – virulently defendant of me and my kind. And if that isn’t enough for you to respect, because you don’t approve of the letters that make up a sentence, that’s your prerogative. But I’m not going to stop because the political winds blow. I have no desire to offend but I do have desire to describe. And I’m going to do that in the best ways I know how.
(timeless thoughts from a psych patient)
It is a stupid, cyclical life that I lead. I just keep going round and round the insanity-go-round, the mood-go-round, the crazy-go-round. It’s said insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
Welcome to my life.
I can feel the post-depression-bounce-back hypomania beginning in my brain; not in my body, only in my brain. Hypomanic symptoms started yesterday evening. Things started seeming clear, perhaps just a little too clear, and certainly a little too fast. Bipolar fast. Gospel music (yes, oddly) played in my head intermittently while I guided an old tourist couple to the park, I drafted my upcoming novel, planned a conversation, and I investigated the fallen tree branch in the middle of the baseball field. Rapid fire thoughts, hypomanic thoughts, took over.
If you’ve been reading me for a while, you’re probably familiar with the symptoms I typically experience as a person with bipolar disorder type II rapid-cycling.
My Bipolar Disorder Symptoms
- Sadness / depression / tearing
- Lack of motivation / concentration
- Slowness in thinking
- Thoughts of death
- Decreased need for sleep
- Excessive speed talking / thinking
- Increased productivity
Each symptom depending on the mood of the moment (blue being depression, yellow being hypomania).
However, did you know that someone who also has bipolar type II (maybe even rapid-cycling) might have completely different mental illness symptoms?
Your Bipolar Disorder Symptoms
- Weight loss
- Restlessness. agitation
- Feelings of guilt
- More goal-directed activity
- Spending sprees
- Inflated self-esteem
That is totally different from my list, and yet we’re still both bipolar. The diagnosis “bipolar” is more of a big-tent thing. It’s the clumping of people with group of symptoms into a group called bipolar, but each person in the group is still unique.
In the kink world there is a saying, my kink is not your kink, and that’s OK. That is because kink run the gamut. Some people revere feet, others play with blood and others are only interested in rope-play. And sometimes one group thinks less of another group. You lick boots? Ew. I only play with good, clean rope. or my kink is 24/7 so I’m kinkier (better) than you, who just shows up Friday night nights.
Naturally, entirely silly. Kink is all just kink. It’s all just stuff that would get you kicked out of a vanilla person’s bed, the specifics are inconsequential.
And the bipolar community does the same thing. Somehow we’re caught up in our differences and end up fragmenting the group. And even worse, people seem to have a constant of one-up-man-ship to see who is horrifically sicker. Ridiculous.
So, take a gander at my HealthyPlace piece, My Bipolar Isn’t Your Bipolar But That’s OK, where I write (and talk) all about it.
Last night I watched Crazy for Love a very bad movie wherein a man, Max, is put into a mental hospital for attempting suicide for the tenth time. When he’s there, he glimpses a very ill, schizophrenic, Grace, whereupon he instantaneously falls in love with her. She too is determined to kill herself. His life’s mission then is to “make her better”. To “make her happy”. Having found his new mission in life, he no longer wants to kill himself.
Well, pin a rose on his nose.
White Knight Syndrome and Bipolar Disorder
The white knight syndrome typically occurs in men and is characterized by being attracted to, and needing to save, someone in distress. This is not so bad if it leads to someone helping you pick up your groceries after the paper bag broke, but in mental illness circles, it’s very bad news indeed. More at the Breaking Bipolar blog.
I am crazy. I tell this to people in my personal life. It’s not a secret. I figure there’s no point in trying to cover it up; it’ll come out eventually. I’m crazy. The approximately 20 scars on my forearms rather give away that something is amiss.
But people really don’t like the word “crazy”. In fact, most often, what people say to me is, “no, you’re not!”. Well, actually, I am. I have a mental illness, I’m bipolar and I’m crazy.