What’s “Crazy?”

ErinStigma7 Comments

According to dictionary.com, the medical definition for “crazy” states that the word means “mad” or “insane.” The word origin comes from the 1570-1580s, stating that crazy means “diseased, sickly, from craze; meaning “full of cracks or flaws”; the definition of crazy meaning that of “of unsound mind, or behaving as so” is from 1610s. People have labeled others as “crazy” for a very long time.

So, am I crazy? I see a shrink, have been in a mental hospital. I take a lot of pills and have participated in self-harming behaviour. Crazy?

I am really “full of cracks and flaws”, but I do not believe I am “of unsound mind”. That’s what “crazy” means to me. Some mentally ill people are very sensitive about the word general, and do not like to hear it used for anything, not even “Whoa, that movie was crazy!” I don’t really care about the usage of the word unless it is used in an insulting manner. If anyone called me “crazy,” I would assume that the person didn’t understand mental illness at all. Now, if a doctor called me “crazy” then I would believe it and feel devastated. If someone called my friend crazy I would be outraged. It totally depends on context for me.

At times I have felt really fucking crazy. I have felt like I have lost my mind and have done things where upon looking back I ask myself whether I was crazy at the time. Sometimes it’s the best word to use when describing one’s state of mind.

When I did the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder program at Homewood there was an instance where the program director asked us to raise our hand if we’ve ever felt crazy. Almost everyone in the room raised their hand. She told us to look around and then ask ourselves whether we thought the other people around us were crazy. I certainly didn’t think so, there were lots of people in there that I’d gotten to know and would swear to their sanity in any courtroom. The program director said that people with PTSD often feel crazy but that none of us were crazy.

What’s your viewpoint? Am I crazy? Have you felt crazy before? Should the word be used at all?

I’d love to get a discussion going around this!

*EDIT: I would also like to thank Maranda Elizabeth for getting my thoughts churning on this subject. She wrote a similar post in January here. She’s also the best blogger I know so read her blog too!

ErinWhat’s “Crazy?”

7 Comments on “What’s “Crazy?””

  1. Regina

    sometimes… especially when my mom and dad were dying- and there was nothing i could do or do about it… i felt like my head was actually going to burst. like i was actually going “crazy”. i can’t think of a better word for the feeling i was going through… its happened during different times in my life as well… situational depression. so… i have felt “crazy” but i don’t think i ever thought of myself as being “crazy”. if that makes sense. i did think i was the only one though, that felt like that. like, when my parents were dying, how come everyone else seemed so calm… not that they were- its just they manifested their feelings differently.

    i think the use of the word, yes, depends on the context but it’s not something i would just arbitrarily use. the word needs to describe the behavior and not the person and even saying that, the word “crazy”, i guess, just has too many connotations from the past to be used randomly.

    1. daisiesandbruises

      Yeah, I guess one way to look at it would be that the word can be used to describe not only a feeling but a time in one’s life. When I’ve been around loved ones dying it has truly felt like an outrageously crazy time of my life, and at the same time I felt like the rest of the world was crazy for not falling apart with me in my grief. That’s an excellent point – thank you for sharing it with me. I should talk more about grief in my blog because it’s what skyrocketed my depression to begin with. I’d go through being suicidal again over losing someone close to me.

      Anyway, it’s something we haven’t talked a lot about, you and I, but it’s something we share, those life experiences of losing people we love. Thanks for opening up about losing your parents. I want to have a sleepover with you and talk all night! lol

      1. Regina

        i remember when my dad died, i went to some sort of a psychic counselor- she was really good. she was able to communicate with my dad and that helped me a lot- whether or not it was “true”.
        but she said to me, you can’t go with him… she said part of me had gone with him when he died. metaphorically, yes, but she seemed to sense something deeper than that.
        that was such an intensely “crazy” part of my life… i stopped eating, literally… couldn’t sleep. and just when i thought i might be healing, my mom dies… again, so much suffering. i may be up and down in my depression but it has been down for a lot of these past years or so.
        i can’t tell you what your writing means to me, erin. thank you for doing it.

    2. daisiesandbruises

      I can only imagine how hard that must have been. Death seems to come in waves, in my experience anyway. It’s unbearable. I think part of my urge to write sprang from loss since I wanted to leave something behind when I die. I can feel the depth of your experiences in your writing, Regina, and find to be healing for myself to read as well. I’m glad we have each other. ♥

  2. Andrea

    I totally over-use that word. I say stuff like “I had the craziest day!” or “That movie was crazy!”. But I don’t use it to describe people, generally, and certainly not to imply that they actually have a mental illness. I guess it goes back to the other conversations we’ve had about language. Context is everything, and everybody is different. Some like the term “mental illness”, and some don’t. Some will argue that the language we use is extremely important and telling of attitudes, and some people will argue that the world is getting way too sensitive and “PC”. I think i’m somewhere in the middle of those extremes.

    1. daisiesandbruises

      It would be interesting to learn if there’s a certain age range when kids become more aware of the language they are using and whether it offends others or not. I guess it adds up to life experience. I’m excited for that search engine that’s in the works! I need to be a part of that, employed or not hehe.

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