I used to be terrified of the word ‘crazy’. It’s a word that we throw around very casually, often without even realising we have. We’ll tell someone that they did something crazy or that they’re acting crazy. We throw it out without caution, five simple letters that mean so much more. And many of us won’t care that we were called crazy; we might barely even realise it. But for others, myself included, being called ‘crazy’ was the most terrible thing. Because they weren’t calling you crazy for drinking too much or doing something unexpected, they were calling you crazy for your mental illness. They were calling you crazy because your mind doesn’t make sense to you, much less someone else. Crazy can be fun, but it can also be bruised knees on the bathroom floor, tears that fall without feeling, and the urge to screw yourself and everyone over, time after time.
I was so scared of being called ‘crazy’, because deep down, I knew that it was exactly what I was. To be called crazy would be to confirm that I’m different, that I’m broken, and that I might not be able to be fixed. So I ran from the word, I laughed in its face, and I worked tirelessly to prove that I couldn’t be crazy. Could a crazy person achieve such good grades? Could a crazy person do dozens of extracurriculars? Could a crazy person find someone who wanted them, several people who did? Could a crazy person still be here, year after year, when their mind doesn’t want to be?
Yes, they can.
When we consider a definition of crazy, we’re confronted with several options. Merriam Webster defines crazy as the following:
1. Not mentally sound: marked by thought or action that lacks reason
2. Being out of the ordinary
3. Distracted with desire or excitement
You can be crazy in your excitement for something or crazy to not be excited about something that excites others. You can be crazy for going out of your way for someone, and you could be crazy for ending a relationship that others saw as perfect. The list goes on, but running throughout it is the same vein of differing to others. Our characteristic of crazy is actually a lack of another characteristic or trait that is commonly had. You’re crazy in the exact ways you differ from others.
But to me, crazy was always fixated on that first definition and the implication of insanity. Crazy lay in people who couldn’t manage to be happy, who were sad with no reason to be. It was found in the people who wanted to hurt themselves and sabotage everything good in their lives. It was the people who found ordinary things so much harder, who looked in the mirror and saw something different. Crazy felt like a life sentence, like confirming that I would never get better, that I would either work tirelessly to keep coasting or finally quit. I was sure that if everyone knew what went on in my mind, the thoughts that controlled me, that I would be locked away without hesitation, that my worst fears would come true, and everyone would finally leave me. Crazy was embedded deep into me, released only when I wrote and never to be shared. I was crazy, and I was running from it.
In my final year of university, I did a crazy thing, I guess you could say. I applied to direct a play, and for that, I submitted a play that I wrote. It was a collection of five monologues, each one about a woman who could be considered crazy to others. For example, there was the ‘crazy ex-girlfriend’ who was just desperate to be loved and wanted, driven to extremes by her fear of abandonment - I guess you could see that one as a bit biographical, as it definitely had BPD energy. There was the mother who strived to be perfect and do everything for her children, to the extent that she ends up snorting nutmeg as an escape - don’t try this at home, kids! There was the young woman trying to understand her sexuality and how it exists in this world and someone who was crazy for being too passionate about the environment and feeling it too intensely. Finally, there was the traditional crazy, the one that scared me so much. A session between a patient and their therapist, where she acknowledges that she is exactly what everyone fears she is. She is crazy, but unafraid to be so, rather it scares everyone else as she differs from them.
Four years later, and I feel pained by some of my writing and directing choices, and there is so much that I would do differently. I’ve learned the gift of subtlety, and it could certainly be applied to that script. But the time passed allows me to recognise why I wrote it, what I was looking for within it. I was at the height of my mental illness but suffering in silence due to my high functioning nature. In this play, I was looking to release the noise of my mind. I was trying to stop running from this term and instead embrace it. To no longer view crazy as a flaw, but rather a common trait, one that can be found wherever you choose to look for it.
It was the roots of my feminism, as I saw how rarely men were called crazy, and that bugged me. It was choosing to take off my tinted glasses and see crazy all around me and how wonderful it could be. I was starting to realise that most of the best people have been called crazy, and this was me asking to join them.
“To be crazy is the most wonderful thing, and to be a crazy lady is the only thing better.” - Crazy Ladies.
There are a lot of ways in which I could be considered crazy. I could be crazy in my obsession with dogs, my extreme collection of plants and my devotion to Taylor Swift. I could be crazy in thinking that I can have a career as a writer, in my dream of writing a bestselling novel. I could be crazy for having Borderline Personality Disorder, for living a life shaped by depression, anxiety and an eating disorder.
I think that if you look at someone in a specific light, you’ll find some form of crazy within them. But what appears as crazy to you may seem ordinary to another; a crazier person might make me seem less so. When I think of crazy now, I don’t think of institutions or the undermining of my mental health; instead, I see the writers ahead of their time, who spoke the words no one wanted to hear but needed to. I see the artists who create works that will outlive them by decades or centuries. I see the beauty of personality and originality, and I know that it lives in everyone. Maybe the issue is when we choose to use the word crazy rather than the word itself.
I am crazy. But then again, aren’t you?
Looking for more crazy content? Let's talk about Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and how they portray BPD.
Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.
Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.
Would you like to receive my top monthly articles right to your inbox?
For any comments/questions/enquiries, please get in touch at:
I'd love to hear from you!