Just because I have a mental illness doesn’t mean I’m crazy

This is a post that I originally wrote on January 28, 2010.  I think it’s important enough that I wanted it to be permanently linked to the main page, but I didn’t like how wordpresses option to stick it to the main page made it look, so it gets it’s own page.

I realized, while staring at my ceiling in the wee hours this morning, that I should probably do  a post of explanation. When you Google me, the first page that pops up is my Facebook page.  I do have that set so only friends can see it, but I also have a link to this blog on the info page that anyone could see.  Potential employees, for instance, might be Googling me, then seeing how freely I refer to myself as “crazy” or “a madwoman” and get scared off.

So here’s the thing: yes, I have a mental illness: major depressive disorder, and have for most of my life.  However, on the spectrum of life-long mental illnesses, MDD is on the “less severe” side of the scale.  I don’t, for instance, have problems with psychosis, like a victim of bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia would.  My depression is well controlled with medication, and, if I had a job and could afford to go see a therapist, (ahem) it would have even less control of my life.

When I use words like “crazy”, “madwoman”, or “insane”, 90% of the time it’s as a joke.  I discovered a long time ago, that if I joke about the parts of myself that are most vulnerable, right now that means my mental health and my weight, a couple of things happen.  First of all, it makes the problems I’m dealing with internally less severe.  Secondly, it steals the ammunition from the bullies and big Meany-heads of the world by showing that you don’t care about what they think.  Honestly, I wouldn’t have survived middle or high school if I wasn’t able to laugh along with the bullies when the teased me.

The other thing I need to do is share my definition of words like “insane” and “crazy”

First of all, insane is a legal term, not a medical term.  It’s a judge or a jury that rules someone is insane, not a doctor.  The definition of insanity varies from state to state and government to government, but, the simplest definition, and the one I like the best is someone who is mentally deranged to the point where they don’t know the difference between right and wrong.   I know the difference between right and wrong.

Crazy is more difficult to describe, but, to me, some it’s like being insane with the added benefit of psychosis.  Someone who is crazy is or has been institutionalized.  This also fits my definition of a madman/madwoman.

I have never been institutionalized.  I know the difference between fantasy and reality, I know the difference between right and wrong.

I have a mental illness, one I’ll probably deal with my entire life.  I joke about being crazy, but I don’t think I am.

I also don’t think that having MDD is anything to be ashamed of.  Being open about my disease, and its symptoms is one of the ways that I deal with it.  I would be equally open if I had something like diabetes, epilepsy or asthma. It’s the way that I am.  And I would never change it.

4 responses to “Just because I have a mental illness doesn’t mean I’m crazy”

  1. william wallace says :

    corianne / You could remove “Ramblings Of An Madwoman” in
    place “A Sane Woman Living In An Mad World”. Thus truth be
    its not your fault but poor state of world that one having to live.

    With such realization / you will see its hilarious side, in having
    blamed yourself, where you could not have beeen more wrong.
    Where in understanding reality of the situation, you will laugh
    & laugh at youself, in having foolishly misjudged the situation.

    Thus a need of caution ..your laughter muscles have lacked use.
    At first limit your laughter to 3 hours a day for first week or two
    after that increase your laughter to 4 hours a day.. after another
    couple of weeks increase laughter to 5 hours dailyy… continue
    with the increase of laughter at reasonable pace, allowing your
    laughter muscles in strengthening over an gradual space of time.

    You have a lot of laughter to catch up on having missed, due to
    states of depression that took / robbed you of years of laughter.

    People will question ..ask what are you laughing at .. thus assure
    them… you are not laughing at them… explain your situation, as
    to your laughter.. seeing its funny side when told… most folk will
    will start laughing realizing how funny the situation having been.

    Explain to them .. about the laughter muscles..how its best not to
    overstretch them … thus limit their laughter if being not be used
    to such.. explain to them they should limit laughter to 3 hours an
    day .. after a week or two then increase laughter to 4 hours an day
    explain.. too much laughter at one time… is not a laughing matter.
    *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

  2. the guest says :

    Methinks you’re deep into the mistake of treating depression as a relative or even a lifelong friend. Understandable – this is among the symptoms.

    You don’t have to pay to go see therapists for this specific illness and I know extremely well what I’m talking about, you apparently have internet connection, time to spend on a good cause, as well as intelligence and open-mindedness (the latter mentioned in an absolutely nothing-to-do-with-BS-or-newagestuff sense). You also probably have access to google.

    On the other hand, medication might be necessary, but you already mentioned it. Imho one should make sure it’s not used to keep the situation under control but to repair the brain chemistry in a more or less permanent way.

    I agree with the previous speaker, my advice is to remove all references to yourself as mad, first and most importantly from within your brain.

  3. corianne says :

    By owning my disease, I rob it of it’s power. I spent years fighting it, and, by treating it as something that needs to be fought, I gave it power. By treating my depression as something that is not to be ashamed of, and something to be laughed at rather than fought, it’s hold on me loosened.

    I have no delusions of ever being completely free, and maybe that’s a mistake. But, I was diagnosed when I was 10, and I’m 30 now. That’s 2/3 of my life–most of it spent fighting to reach normal, and feeling ashamed that I had to fight, that I wasn’t normal.

    By taking the shame out of depression, by owning it and laughing at it, I’ve become a happier person. I’m not suicidal (not seriously, anyway) anymore, and while I still have days that I wouldn’t get out of bed if I didn’t have to take care of my dogs, they don’t happen as frequently as they used to.

    Everybody is different, and I’m not saying that my approach would work for everyone, or even anyone else. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it for someone dealing with, say, post-postpartum depression, or who had just lost a loved one. But my battle with depression has lasted 20 years, and I expect it to last the rest of my life. And personally, I’d rather joke for the next 50 years than fight.

  4. theubiquitousuterus says :

    It is my given opinion that the people who embrace that which makes them different from those around them are the people who see the world for what it is: a crazy place. My particular brand of crazy happens to be a younger, smaller cousin of bi-polar called cyclothymia, wherein I lean more to one pole than the other. In my case, that’s the depressive side more than the maniacal one.

    I completely agree with you that joking about an affliction takes away its power over you. And it’s much less exhausting to crack wise than it is to act like there’s a large part of your brain/personality that is your enemy. Taking ownership of my cyclothymia made me much less afraid of it, and it helped me to understand myself better. I believe that searching, finding, and accepting all the dark corners of yourself makes you stronger and better equipped to deal with life’s many curve balls. I also believe that the people who live in denial of the fact that they have dark corners just like the rest of us are the mentally ill ones.

    Therefore, I applaud your acceptance of yourself and deem it to be far healthier than denial, which is a pervasive and deadly disease that doesn’t get enough attention. Good for you, you mad, mad woman!

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