Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The "Crazy" Word

Many thanks to Patti Dempster, who posted this as a reply in the thread about the word "Crazy."
With her permission, I am reposting it as a post in its own right, as it deserves to be.

I will take on the “crazy” word.
For me it depends a great deal who is using it and when. MI is a lonely illness. No one can see it so people who have not experienced it often carry a question mark around. People with MI can see the question marks. We can feel it and we will react to it more or less depending on the situation.
I have people in my life who know of my condition who I feel safe enough with that no words could offend me. We can even laugh together about some of the 'crazy' things I do or say. They can call me crazy and I will laugh right along with them. I have other people in my life who I desperately want to be in my corner and who claim that they are, but seem unable to truly “get it.” Their use of the word 'crazy' can trigger a meltdown on the spot. It means they don't buy it. It means they think I have a choice.
As I begin to melt and their discomfort becomes more and more apparent, the crazy word gets repeated. If not audibly it will appear in their eyes and in their body language. By now it is not the word that is the trigger but the ignorance behind the word. The fact that they don't get it (translation they don't really believe I have an MI) means they are taken by surprise when I am triggered and lose my centre (translation, act crazy).
In that moment in time I need their understanding, compassion and support. Instead what I get is a distancing with words and actions. An uncomfortable minimizing of what I am experiencing. A backing away and shaking of heads. All the while still having convinced themselves that they are trying to help me by making me see how crazy I am being. Telling me I am “crazy to get so riled up” in an attempt to settle me down.
Wrong move, Einstein! Now that is “crazy-making!” And that is when it hurts to the core. So unless people truly understand MI they should avoid language that can be misinterpreted and potentially hurtful to those who do.

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