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.