Warning! Crazy Man!

I had a flashback last night.  I was standing in line at the drug store waiting to pick up a refill of the Lamictal, and I got an overwhelming feeling that those around me knew.  They had to know that I was crazy; and picking up my crazy meds.  The sign was back; the one around my neck that said “WARNING, CRAZY MAN”.   Not a pleasant experience at all.

This has happened before.

There have been times I felt like this all the time.  It was strongest when I had just gotten out of a mental hospital; I felt so different from everyone, and isolated in my madness.  How could they not know?  For the most part, there are never any physical signs that indicate my problem.  Most of the time there is no evidence anyway.  Depending on my medications and my state of mind I can get the shakes.  And when that happens, my balance gets off and I have a tendency to stutter.  It was kind of funny once.  Someone asked me to go to an MS Support group with them, and I was shaking and stuttering like crazy.  And I was asked when I had been diagnosed with MS.  I mean absolutely no disrespect to those suffering from that horrible disease, nor do I imply that what I have is any worse.  My heart goes out to anyone who has to endure that.  But at the same time, it was disturbing to me that my symptoms were that noticeable.

There was that ‘I’m Crazy” sign again.

I’ve been more aware of my illness in general lately.  Yes, my outward appearance has remained strong.  But as I’ve admitted, I am seeing the signs of an increasing mania.  I am addressing this with a medication change, and so far it seems to be helping.  It’s too soon in the change thought to know for sure.  But my Therapist knows, and we’re working on a plan to bring things back down. (But not too far down I hope!)

It is such a vulnerable feeling when you feel like your illness is so exposed.  It’s almost like I’m naked in public.  It’s easy to imagine that people are watching you, and talking to each other about it.  “Watch out for him, he’s crazy!”  And you know that the pharmacy clerk knows what the medicines you’re picking up are, so they DO know.  And the looks on their faces must just confirm what others are noticing.  I don’t feel paranoid… it’s almost like a shame.  The stigma of this illness can be great, and I feel the weight of it pushing me down.

It makes me crazy.

This is such a difficult disease to deal with.  Not only are there the symptoms, but there is the perception too.  Of course that is not real, that no one could really know.  I suppose it’s really just my perception of myself.  My illness does separate me from others.  Even if it’s only in my own mind.  I’m different. I feel broken.  I’m substandard.

I’m not normal

My therapist asked me in our last session what makes me a good person.  And that list is actually a fairly long one.  I AM a good person, and I have a lot of positive attributes.  When things are going well, you won’t meet anyone more caring and supportive than I.  I’ve been a great boss, and have done much to help people who have worked for me better themselves and get to better jobs.  Other opinions matter and consideration of new ideas is always something I try to do.  Respect is always given.  All is good, particularly when I’m healthy.

But I’m not healthy.

My mind is warped.  My thoughts are strange and my obsessions are overwhelming.  Behaviors I have are excessive, and the consequences as a result can be dire.  My depressions are beyond belief in the intensity of the despair.  I’ve totally lost control in a mania, and tried to end it all on more than one occasion.  I’ve been hospitalized more times than I can recall.  Whether up or down, I’ve caused much pain to others and destroyed meaningful relationships.  I’ve most likely done untold damage to my body with all the powerful medications I’ve taken over the last 35 years.  Addiction is so often a part of this illness, and I am no exception with my own.  Sometimes my opinions of myself are so grandiose and self-important; other times I’m not worthy to live.

Let’s face it.  I do a good job at hiding my illness and maintaining in the real world.  But the truth is, I’m crazy.  I’m a sick man, and I do sick things.  I’m twisted and bizarre.  My behaviors are beyond extreme.  Maybe I present myself to be just like everyone else, but just below the surface lurks the beast that would so frighten and disturb others.  As severe as it is; as strange as I behave; as crazy as I am, it must be obvious to the rest of the world.  They must know.

How could they not know?

Read the sign…  It’s hanging around my neck.

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8 Responses to Warning! Crazy Man!

  1. Nicole says:

    I can remember those feelings from my bad times. When I felt like the world must see a crazy person when they looked at me. It’s kind of a comfort to know that most people are too self-absorbed in their own little worlds to really care. Even if your crazy, if you get to caring about them, they really won’t care too much whether your crazy or not. At least in my experience.

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  2. Caroline says:

    It seems odd to me that a “crazy person” would actually care whether someone thought you were crazy or not. In addition, many drugs, both those used for mental illness and for other types of illnesses, have benefits that are considered off label. Therefore, MDs will prescribe psych drugs for non psych reasons. Quit playing to your audience, having dealt with numerous people with bipolar disorder, rapid cycling and some even in children, it appears to me that you are only standing on your soapbox for attention.

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    • Liam says:

      Have you dealt with it yourself? Personally? Having dealt with other people who are bipolar is not remotely the same. This isn’t soapboxing for attention, this is what it feels like every day for those of us who have to deal with it. We do feel crazy. We feel like everyone knows and that the stigma attached will mean they’ll treat us accordingly–like we’re mad, we’re dangerous, we’re abnormal.

      You are perpetuating that stigma with your first sentence. Believe it or not, crazy people do in fact have feelings and self-awareness. I know. Shocking. It’s rather difficult for some of us to overcome our own internalisation of the stigma against mental illness enough to own it and accept it, so regardless of whether you meant we shouldn’t care because we’re crazy or we shouldn’t care because we know we’re crazy, the result is the same: you are perpetuating the same harmful ideologies that make us feel exactly as was described in this post.

      Please, before you open your mouth again to tell someone who IS bipolar that they should stop talking about how it makes them feel, consider whether or not your opinion is actually a valuable one. And if you are incapable of figuring it out, then perhaps you might consider why, if you don’t wish to hear somebody ‘soapboxing’ about how their disorder makes them feel, you are reading their blog at all.

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  3. dmshore says:

    One of my two mental disorders is an eating disorder and, therefore, quite visible — and embarrassing. I am embarrassed at what I have to tell my therapists and psychiatrists and primary care folks and pharmacist and even the dentist. But I’m trying to just let it go. To not give a hoot. To remember that unless we are willing to say, “Yes, I have a mental disorder or two. But I am not crazy. I am the person next door. A devoted wife. A loving mother. A caring sister. A church-goer. A volunteer. A hard-working colleague. I contribute, and I matter. I need and deserve health — and respect.” It’s hard but doable, I think. At least I’ll keep trying.

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  4. bpnana says:

    Great post! Thanks for sharing what I certainly can relate to! Love to You! Nana xx

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  5. itvaries says:

    Definitely a great post… and great depiction of the actual illness. I think the craziest of us all are actually the most intelligent, too. 🙂 Thank you.

    Like

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