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fluthernutter's avatar

Clinically-sane jellies, what kind of crazy could you be?

Asked by fluthernutter (6328points) June 7th, 2012 from iPhone

Seems to me that many people are traipsing about just on this side of normal.

Under different circumstances, what kind of crazy do you think you would be? Does it run in your family? Do you already have some of the tendencies?

How real are the possibilities of you ending up on the other side? Does it take work to stay on this side of things?

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45 Answers

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

As a person with a mental illness, I find this question and its details egregiously insulting.

Have all the fun you want in answering. I will not be following.

lillycoyote's avatar

I’m not exactly offended by the question; I occasionally joke about being “crazy” myself, I must admit, but as someone who’s brother is schizophrenic, as someone who has watched my brilliant, funny, charming older brother destroyed inch by inch by his illness over the years, as someone who has seen how much pain his illness has caused him, caused my parents, caused my family over the years, I have to back @Hawaii_Jake up. “Crazy” can be a tremendous tragedy, for the people who suffer from mental illness and for their families; “What kind of crazy would you be?” That’s not a game or a fantasy, or a joke. Sorry to be a buzz kill.

fluthernutter's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake I’m sorry if my question or the way I worded it offended you. That was not my intention. I only meant to say that many people have tendencies and predispositions for mental illness. Being clinically-sane often seems to be a delicate and sometimes arbitrary dance that we do. We are who we are under these circumstances. But under different circumstances, who is to say?

@lillycoyote My sister is also schizophrenic. That’s partly what made me think of this question. Watching her come off her meds and spiral downwards makes me think about how easily that could have been me—under different circumstances.

lillycoyote's avatar

@fluthernutter Who are we to say? It may be an interesting philosophical question to you but do know anyone, have you ever seen or known someone who is truly psychotic? Have you ever known someone who committed suicide because they had untreated clinical depression? It’s not a dance; it’s not arbitrary; it is very, very real.

fluthernutter's avatar

@lillycoyote Its very real. But I think it’s also very arbitrary. Life is arbitrary.

Coloma's avatar

Happy, silly, inane crazy. I’m all about humor, rarely get pissed off, and when I do it passes quickly. I’ll just have a happy brownie and zap the neighbors sheep with my aqua zooka turbo squirt guns from my hot tub. Oh wait, I already do that, well….

I don’t think this question is meant to offend mentally unwell people, I say take it at face value in the light hearted manner it is presented.

lillycoyote's avatar

@fluthernutter O.K. We are writing past and across one another. Perhaps you could have worded your question and your details differently. I understand. One, when I first realized that my brother was losing his mind and after his diagnosis, yes, it was, there, in the back of my mind: Could this happen to me too? And don’t think I haven’t thought about these things; studied and researched, as best I can, the psychiatric literature on mental illness and psychosis. It is, yes, an interesting thing to ponder. Normal is relative; normal is determined, yes, somewhat arbitrarily, I agree to a certain extent, but the bottom line is that mental illnesses, like schizophrenia and depression destroy people and damage families. In a perfect world, perhaps, everyone could just be anyway they were and we would support and allow them to be that way.

I suppose determining whether or not someone has cancer could be seen as rather arbitrary, since cancer is really not a single disease, but that doesn’t mean that we should allow people to simply suffer and die and be destroyed by cancer because it is just another way that people’s bodies “express themselves.”

fluthernutter's avatar

@lillycoyote I’m not saying that normal or crazy is arbitrary. I’m saying the circumstances that lead us to where we are is arbitrary.

Yes, genetics play a large part. But so does life. If I had to go through what my sister did, I don’t think I’d be faring that well.

Coloma's avatar

Also the resilience factor, why some are broken by little and others triumph over their traumas.

fluthernutter's avatar

@Coloma Yes, personality and how you deal with life factors in too.

Though I read somewhere that constant (sometimes seen as little) stress can have a larger effect than single-event traumas.

Coloma's avatar

@fluthernutter True, chronic stress can really send a lot of people for a loop, or a dive into the dark side of their psyches and lack of coping skills. Mental & emotional health has many components, actually not being easily offended and thin skinned is one of them. lol

lillycoyote's avatar

I may have to bail on this thread because it is making me cranky and I don’t want to become argumentative but is this question about overcoming hardship, working through trauma and coming out on the other side healthier and stronger or is it about “crazy” and mental illness. Mental illness is as much a disease of the brain as cancer, or septicemia and diabetes are disease of the body. I hate to be thin skinned and easily offended, apparently, and all that, but I get tired of people talking about mental illnesses as though they are somehow failures of character or a failure to simply buck up and work things out. So what is this question really about?

Anyway, I am done here. You all can talk about whatever you want. I am obviously a buzz kill here whose mental and emotional health would be better served by lightening up so I am going to go do that, somewhere else.

fluthernutter's avatar

@lillycoyote This question wasn’t about simply overcoming trauma. You don’t just buck up and work through mental illness.

It was (supposed to be) about imagining where you could be under different circumstances and pondering about how arbitrary things can be.

Coloma's avatar

I took it as just a fun question, along the lines of if you were an animal, song, color, what would you be? Jeez….does everything have to carry the suffocating veil of political correctness? I don’t think anyones intent is to dismiss true mental illness.
I’m a blonde and I can handle blonde jokes. Okay…I better quit while I’m ahead too. 0-o

cazzie's avatar

I have often tinkered with the idea of getting a shopping cart and dressing myself in every piece of clothing I own and then filling the cart with every broken children’s toy I can find. I would push the cart around the city and mumble Ibsen to myself.

(I live with non-typical neurals and I can take this question in the spirit in which it was meant. I lovingly refer to my autistic step son as ‘Mr Bean’ sometimes because we still have a sense of humour and it helps deal with the stress.)

Nimis's avatar

@cazzie My college roommate and I dressed up in every piece of clothing that we had. We were cackling so hard as we got dressed.

When we were done, I pushed her over and she couldn’t get back up. It was hilarious. Better than a cartoon turtle.

lillycoyote's avatar

@cazzie I was going to leave this one alone, but trust me, living with an unmedicated, completely treatment-averse psychotic is not nearly as fun and interesting as living with “non-typical neurals.”

augustlan's avatar

This question doesn’t seem to have been meant to offend, especially given the asker’s sister’s illness. I took it to mean something like, “There, but for the grace of God luck, go I”.

I do have anxiety and get panic attacks, and I’m fairly sure I would have been agoraphobic, too, if not for the fact that I had to drive my children to and from school every day for years. Having to go out on a regular basis, with no big periods of seclusion possible in between, probably helped me an awful lot.

The event that first tipped my anxiety into full-blown panic attacks was returning to high school after being home schooled for three months (due to a physical illness). Being in that loud, crowded, chaotic atmosphere after months at home freaked me out completely. It got so bad that I ended up dropping out of high school because of it. Even today, after a week or so of staying in my house, I am very reluctant to leave it. Had I had no compelling reason to go out regularly, I can easily imagine a different outcome.

ucme's avatar


ccrow's avatar

I’ve had to deal with depression off and on for most of my adult life… I also tend to be organizationally challenged. I could see myself becoming a hoarder, given the right(or wrong!) set of circumstances.

cazzie's avatar

@lillycoyote I didn’t know this question was about comparing how hard dealing with mental illnesses were in our lives to see who has had it worse.

Coloma's avatar

@cazzie Haha..I joke about being a bag lady pushing a shopping cart with my pet geese. “Spare some bread sir?” lol

I too have gone through depression, situational during a divorce some years ago, I was married to what I believe was a pathological narcissist with sociopathic traits, I have let go of several friends that have had emotional issues that made the relationships unhealthy for me, so I am no stranger to the effects of the mentally/emotionally unwell but I also think that we can discern the difference between benign humor related to a situation vs. disrespect for the mentally ill community.

Sunny2's avatar

Catatonic schizophrenia for me. Just sitting there and not moving. Unable to talk. Staring. You could move my arms to an position and they would just stay there. Wouldn’t be in that state for long nowadays. There are good meds for it. Then I could start talking to a shrink.

LittleLemon's avatar

I come from a long history of religious nuts (no offense meant to spiritual or religious folks), that included a weekly family ritual of exorcising my video games and music CDs (and occasionally myself, if I were particularly snotty one week). So in the spirit of where this thread intended to go, I can whole-heartedly say I am already pretty damn crazy. I am, however, good at hiding it to function in general society. You don’t escape childhood trauma unscathed without a sense of humor.

In another world, I think I’d be a cat lady with 50 cats, and a man tied up in the basement that I could love/torment whenever I wanted. He’d never leave cheeto crumbs on the couch, and he’d only be ready for whoopie when I was. I’d never leave the house, and play World of Warcraft for at least 8 hours a day.

wundayatta's avatar

Having been clinically sane for most of my life and then recently become clinically mentally ill, I can say that I had absolutely no clue what mental illness was like. None, whatsoever. I could not have ever imagined what happened to me.

I used to be a person with a healthy imagination. I used to be creative. But I had this notion that things were under control and that it was always possible to control things, if one really wanted to.

Finding out that I was not in control is not something I know how to describe. I fought like hell. I did not believe I was not in control. Even as I was doing things I never would have done, I was convinced I was choosing to do these things for reasons I could not understand. When I became deeply depressed, I always believed I could just flick some mental switch, and I would be ok. It seemed like normalcy was right there for the taking, like a ripe winesap on a low branch of the tree.

Yet, no matter how much I felt I wanted to pick and eat that apple, my arm remained way too heavy to lift. This was enormously frustrating, and unbelievable to a person who had never had trouble doing what he wanted to before. I blamed myself and that made me even more depressed.

For some reason, throughout my life, I never wanted to take LSD. I had a feeling that if I did, I would go on a trip and not come back. There was a distant cousin of mine who that happened to. Of course, it wasn’t until I was diagnosed that I found out her diagnosis was the same. I guess I didn’t need to know until then.

Now, I wonder if I somehow knew what my craziness was going to be or could be, under the right circumstances. I knew I could see things that other people can’t. Not magic things. Just connections between things. I was always fast to make such connections. When I was getting sick, I got even faster—so much so, it scared me. I though my brain was going so fast because it had cancer was trying to get all kinds of thinking done before it died.

But stories of hallucinogenic trips always made sense to me even though I’d never been on one. Stories of mental pain made sense to me. And then there was my need for love—intense falling in love love and physical intimacy. Since maybe the first time I got sick, although I was undiagnosed at the time, I have felt an overwhelming need for connection with someone—insane connection, maybe. Mind-blowing. Where you don’t know who is who. Where you are ecstatically the same person. Where you are not alone, finally.

When I did get mentally ill, that was what I became obsessed with. I fell in love over an over. And over. Circumstances, of course, did not allow any of those loves to come to the desired connection, but that is where I was headed.

When I’m sane, I can be ok with myself. I’m not lonely. I can be happy in my marriage even though it isn’t that intense connection I always wanted. But when I’m not sane, a black hole of loneliness appears in my stomach. It is so deep and huge and black and empty that I just can’t think straight any more. I will do anything to try to fill that hole. And why not? I’m trying to save my life. Never mind that the things I do can destroy other people’s lives, like my wife and children’s. And I am acutely aware of this even as I do risky things. Which, of course, makes me feel even worse; even more trapped.

It’s like I can do something to help myself, and maybe save my life, but the cost is my family. Maybe my job, too. Maybe everything. Or I can do nothing and protect my family and my job, but sink deeper and deeper into depression.

I hear so many voices when I write this, telling me I’m making justifications. That I can find connection with my family and there doesn’t have to be a choice. That it isn’t necessarily the way I see it.

I don’t know. I’m doing well now. My family is intact. I haven’t destroyed my world, although I came so close.

Honestly, if you’ve never been here, I don’t think you can imagine what it would be like. It’s way more powerful than you can think of. It doesn’t make sense from a normal person perspective. You can judge from your normal point of view, but you can’t know. So any way that you imagine you might be insane—you’re just guessing, and you only see a tenth of it. And most likely you’re wrong, anyway.

Maybe this is just a silly question. Maybe it’s just inviting people to fool around. I don’t really understand it all that well. But it is enormously frustrating for me, and I guess for @Hawaii_Jake and maybe some others, because we know. We’ve been there. We know that even if this is well-intentioned, it is a lie because it is, inevitably, wildly misleading.

LittleLemon's avatar

This topic is very close to my heart, and I will try not to simply diffuse the pain emanating from the people this thread is bothering.

But coming from a background of accountability and seeking help when it’s needed… I don’t find this topic to be offensive. Maybe in the regard that it brings up old memories I’d rather not face head-on at this very moment, but that’s what makes us strong. For Chrissakes I was crying in the shower this morning. Even on my bad days, I don’t try to make this out to be an Oppression Olympics. It’s a segregation that is unnecessary, in my opinion.

fluthernutter's avatar

@wundayatta I originally included in the details:
Have you been on that other side? How do you keep from going back?

I didn’t mean to exclude people who suffer from any of these conditions. Or to have it be a let’s-all-of-the-normal-people-imagine-what-it’s-like-to-be-crazy-in-a-belittling sort of way.

I think Augustlan answered in the best way that I had hoped for. That certain circumstances in her life nudged her to one side instead of the other. How things could have easily gone the other way.

It’s not as simple as deciding to eat that apple. But some times life brings a gust of wind and there it is in your lap. For others, sadly, it’s always out of reach.

glenjamin's avatar

@wundayatta some of your story seems amazingly similar to my situation (the parts about connections and love). Anyways, in my life I’ve had bits and pieces of different disorders, not quite as full-blown as the actual illnesses but intense enough to alter my functioning in life, categorized as ‘not otherwise specified’ in DSM-IV. I’ve been on meds for quite awhile, and those symptoms seem to be part of another world. Now things do seem much less colorful though, and life is blase most of the time (this could have to do with environmental factors though as well). I’m not offended by this question at all btw.

linguaphile's avatar

I have come very close to becoming a suicidal hoarder, overeater and hermit. Many people in my family struggle with deep depression and disabiling addictions. I feel things on a very intense and visceral level—but intellectually can’t always handle the depth of my emotions so I keep this on my radar all the time and keep my emotions in check.

Whenever I feel myself going to ‘the dark side,’ I talk myself into positive thoughts and actions- it helps tremendously. I realize that not everyone is able to do that—I don’t ever expect the same strategy to work for others.

ratboy's avatar

This question would have worked better had “sane” and “crazy” been transposed.

hearkat's avatar

Why did this Question appear in my “Just for You” list?
Who is presuming that I’m clinically sane? 0_o

Coloma's avatar

@hearkat LOL

Lets see how “crazy” this discussion gets. ;-)

King_Pariah's avatar

Quite a few docs have declared me of a mindset that is extremely apart from the “norm.” In their words “insane” or “potential serial killer/mass murderer” or “antisocial/sociopathic.” And that’s before taking into consideration my “mild” MPD, my MDD, and my PTSD.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I’m going to go on the lighter side and take this question at (smiling) face value.

I’d be a hoarder! Hey! Are you going to throw out those chicken bones?

linguaphile's avatar

@LuckyGuy You can have the chicken bones if you give me all your books.

lillycoyote's avatar

I know now that @fluthernutter, certainly, in no way, meant to offend. This is just a subject that, depending on your experience and circumstances, some of you may be able to take a lighter attitude towards it.

In my opinion, you haven’t “earned” the right to look at “crazy” or mental illness humorously, or from the “lighter side” unless you’ve been through it yourself or had someone you love go through it. Otherwise, no jokes. It’s not funny; mental illness is incredibly painful and destructive; it’s not a laughing matter or something to be taken lightly.

cazzie's avatar

@lillycoyote In my opinion, no one needs to ‘earn’ a sense of humour about a subject. I will laugh at a jewish comic making fun about his life growing up jewish, but I, at 40-something, have NO experience about being jewish nor did I grow up with any close jewish friends. Do I become unqualified to laugh or find humour a situation because I have no close, personal experience in it? Being human, having true empathy for someone who is going through difficulties, what ever they may be, qualifies me to laugh with people, not at them. That is what I do. If you prefer to NOT laugh, you will not hear me laugh, either.

lillycoyote's avatar

@cazzie Then you and I would simply disagree. Being Jewish is not a disease that destroys your life and your brain, inch by inch, and damages your family. And yes, unless you have personal experience; there are certain things you can’t or at least really shouldn’t, laugh about or find humor in. When you or someone you love is schizophrenic or has cancer, for example, then maybe you can joke about it; otherwise, no, you really haven’t earned the right to that.

cazzie's avatar

‘If you prefer to NOT laugh, you will not hear me laugh, either.’

janbb's avatar

@lillycoyote I agree. I have a dear friend now who has multiple mental issues and we joke about him doing a presentation at the DSM V Gala and me attending and his OCD issues, but these are things I would only joke about with him and I take my tone from his.

linguaphile's avatar

@lillycoyote I have respect for what you’re saying, but I do think different people deal with mental illnesses differently. I’ve been diagnosed at one time or another with ADHD, PTSD, extreme anxiety, bipolar disorder, cyclothymia, OCD, depression, then had a different doctor say, “Oh no, you don’t have that, you have ___.” That wasn’t easy—trying to figure out what was going on. I was the one who figured out what was going on through a combination of several sources. I’m overly labeled.

I’ve seen a few friends put into hospitals for a variety of reasons, one forcibly. Half of my family struggles with different kinds of addictions and mental illnesses. If I’m not lighthearted and joke about it to some degree, I would get excessively upset and invest time dwelling on how horrible something that I can’t fix is. I have to see it this way to survive, literally.

My attitude towards all this is that—- my ire is towards doctors. There’s so much that the medical world does not understand. They do not take a holistic look at mental illnesses. They try to remove the symptoms but often don’t look at the causes. The system misses so much.

I’m not saying you’re wrong—you don’t have to be wrong for me to be right. I’m just offering my perspective as a different way to see it.

Thank goodness my “deaf” diagnosis hasn’t changed in 38 years!

wundayatta's avatar

@linguaphile Of course people deal with these issues differently. Different ones of us are sensitive in different ways. I don’t want to take away anyone’s right to make jokes. However, I do want people to know that when they joke in certain ways, it becomes clear they have no idea what they are talking about, and their jokes are extremely insensitive, and I want nothing more to do with them. Not that they should care—I’m just doing it to protect myself.

A person asks a question like this at their own risk. They will certainly not think they are causing harm, nor do they mean harm. That just shows their ignorance. The proper response to ignorance is to educate. It usually doesn’t help people learn anything if you shame them first. Shame tends to turn people off. But that is often our first instinct when we feel hurt and misunderstood and demeaned.

If you’re crazy, then you know what it means, and you can understand that it really does have benefits as well as harms. The trick is to learn how to cope with the craziness in such a way that you preserve the benefits while immunizing yourself from the harms. It’s not easy, and it is an enormous accomplishment if you manage to do it, if I do say so myself. But fuck it. One of the things I learned was to recognize myself and my own accomplishments and not to hide from them. I earned that, even if no one else agrees. It’s not up to anyone else.

There are other ways of asking this question that might get a little deeper into the issues without insulting or demeaning anyone. I’m not saying anyone should care about not demeaning people with mental illness, although it would be nice. We need to learn to take care of ourselves in a world filled with people who don’t understand us or our illnesses and really don’t give a shit, either. We have to advocate for ourselves and speak for ourselves and explain ourselves (if we want to). No one else is really going to do it very well.

Fortunately, very many mentally ill people are super smart. I think we see that here on fluther quite regularly. There are so many people here I really admire and think are very smart, and almost every single one cops to a mental illness.

If there is any group of sick people that is capable of advocating for themselves, it is mentally ill people. I know people who can talk rings around anyone—they’re that smart. Of course, they are stupid in the sense that they don’t know when to stop, and then end up insulting people and so they make and lose friends instantly.

But so what? If we’re coping, we’re good. I don’t want to be judged because I don’t make the same choices most people in society do. As long as I don’t hurt others too much, then I will make my non-standard choices so I can try to find a little happiness in my life. Self-abnegation leads to suicidal thoughts. My choices are complex, for I do not want to hurt anyone, including myself. It’s that way for all of us, I suspect, but for some, it’s just weirder because of the way our brains work. Give us a little more latitude, if you will. Stop shaming us so much. Stop laughing at us so much. We will respond and we will do well.

linguaphile's avatar

@wundayatta I understand your perspective—and can agree with you. I ‘heard’ myself in your words from when I talk about my deafness. I’ve been attacked and demeaned frequently as a deaf person, have lost opportunities and been hurt because I was deaf. So when I think of it from that perspective, I’m completely in agreement.

There’s a serious side to all this—the advocacy and the rights to be respected, if not necessarily understood. Then there’s the joking side—which is more complex. There are lighthearted jokes with no harm intended, then there are cruel, taunting or demeaning jokes. Much depends on who is joking, how, when and why.

You said, “If you’re crazy…” That’s the thing. Right now, according to my current psychiatrist and therapist, my labels are just two- ADHD and PTSD. The scary thing about “crazy” is… it really does depend on who you see.

7 years ago I was working 80 hour weeks at a publishing company and was exhausted, my husband was abusive and my son was an angry 14 year old. I was seeing a therapist and psychiatrist at that time. The therapist was a very reserved woman in her 60s and the psychiatrist was a stoic, emotionless man from India. It was really a bad fit because I’m naturally very animated when I’m not exhausted. When I realized my job was laying people off, then decided to leave my job to return to school, I became excited about the prospects. I got a bipolar diagnosis that day, based on one day, one decision. I went through the process of accepting the diagnosis until I did more research, got a second, third and fourth opinion- all who said, no. It very much depends on who you’re working with. That foray into a bipolar diagnosis gave me a very internal view of what others go through.

For that reason, I really question when someone’s called crazy. I don’t think our society is allowing for personality variations anymore—eccentric is not tolerated like it used to be. Depression, bipolar, schizophrenia—all are VERY REAL, don’t get me wrong, I just think we’ve lost our flexibility as a society to accept mental diversity.

Coloma's avatar

Well…could I be called “crazy” because I could not bear to turn off the porch light on my deck and go to bed last night while all the tiny new baby tree frogs scrambled around on the wall trying to catch bugs under the porch light? haha
How many women do you know that stay up late in order to make sure that baby frogs get their important first meals so they will survive?

I am keeper of the frogs and anyone harming a frog on my property will be promptly shot. lolol

cazzie's avatar

@Coloma , when I was home in Wisconsin last July, there was a tree frog hanging around the back porch of my brother’s house where we all congregated at night. I couldn’t believe how friendly it was. It just walked around our feet under the table. I bent down and picked it up and a few of my relatives (including guys) screamed. I shushed them so they wouldn’t scare the poor thing. It was amazing. I had never held one before and I just loved how the toes felt on my arm. I lifted him up off the patio floor and helped him back on a tree so he wouldn’t get stepped on by my squeamish relatives. They may have thought I was a bit crazy for doing that, but I felt I was simply helping a little fellow soul be safe. I still remember its eyes. Not bag-ladyish at all.

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