Monday, July 1, 2019

Crazy is scary

This is not a funny blog post. There are no pictures. It’s about mental illness. Most of the time, I’m only 40% mentally ill.

That’s not right; it’s not illness when it’s only 40%. At 40%, it might be called creative or unorthodox or imaginative or intuitive. Or fun or uninhibited or outspoken. Maybe even probing and problem-solving.

But even that 40% comes with a struggle to maintain. I have to watch that I don’t tip over. I don’t touch, taste, or take anything that would mess my mind. I stopped reading Hermann Hesse novels in college. I exercise, I try to straighten out messed-up sleep patterns, I try to expend creative energy. I am a high-functioning crazy person.

But every now and then – rarely – I become 85% of whatever it is. And then, it’s just crazy.

Crazy is scary.

Nothing looks the same when I’m 85%. Reality leaks. The fronts peel off and sadness leaks out. If I look too long at it, it un-reals itself. Or maybe none of that happens outside of me, but inside of me, I know it’s lurking. It’s just waiting to leak. I have to be vigilant.

And then I succumb. I examine it, stare at it, poke it and prod it. I want to get inside this other-ness. It is so complex and compelling, but whether it’s sad or not, it consumes. I can either get to the alive-ness in the world (up) or the sadness in the world (down) …  if I just probe deeper. And deeper. I’m not sure if I’m seeking to understand or if I’m beyond understanding and just merging with unreality. Things “appear” that may or may not really be there.

Have I lost you yet? I’m pretty sure the rest of the world is not 85-percenters. The problem is, you still only know my regular-old 60% which is now down to 15%, and so I’m not even me (to you). So if the me you know is not even present, then I am isolated. There is the world of people … and there is me, without connection.

85% is lost in a mental world, so 85% can’t write or talk or draw. 85% is not creative or productive. 85% can only hide. 85% faked being normal.

The little 15% keeps trying to push on. It always makes sure to wash my hair. With dirty hair, I might be a full-on 100%, and then I am lost. But if 15% pushes too hard, enters a practical world, there’s the possibility of failure. “No, I cannot buy stamps. I will have to talk to the post office lady.” And maybe I can do it, or maybe I have to leave with the crushing realization that I’m probably down to 10%.

I went out to lunch. I think I blathered, or else I froze up. I fell to 10%.

I could talk to my friend Laurie, and she would understand; but Laurie jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, so I can’t. My friend Jennifer told me once that she had no one to talk to about it, and I said (because I was at 60% and feeling good), “Jennifer, you just need more crazy friends.” I was her crazy friend, but Jennifer died, too.

I think I need more crazy people in my life. Crazy people can sniff out other crazy people, but I must have stopped sniffing. How did I get so normal?

Ha ha. That is a funny line.

I am married to a reality anchor. Thank God. He looks at me, utterly clueless. Maybe he’s not clueless, maybe that’s just me being trapped in my head and positive no one’s head can ever be in the same place. He suggested a walk in the woods. No, no, no! Too much seeping reality and free roam brain! He suggested orienteering, and once we got past the registration table, it was just us and clues. My brain had to work on clues and could escape all its other workings.

Afterwards, I washed my hair.

When our daughter was very little, we stuck glow-in-the-dark stars on her bedroom ceiling. She screamed at us to turn the light back on. We thought we’d have to pull them down, but she ran to get her fairy wings, climbed up on her dresser, and told us to turn the lights back off. Then she flapped her arms and flew amongst the stars.

I cried. She was my daughter. She was flying, but maybe she’d crash. Maybe she’d just be “troubled.” Maybe she’d inherited my 40%. I told my doctor, and she said, “Maybe you just have to teach her to land.” I hope I have.

For myself, I’m always trying, always landing (so far). Today, I’m back up to 40%. I thought you might be interested in the craziness among you, about where I go when I’m gone.

That’s all.


  1. Barbara, that brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for being so authentic. Thank you for speaking up. Here’s to you!

    1. Crazy isn't as scary as writing about it. Thank you for appreciating the effort!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. If I wasn't back up to 40% today (and how does that happen? How does it just lift?), this would leave me feeling all the pain of the world. I hope you can go to class with your mother's perfect day in your head. I'm thinking of her frogs and feeling that calm.

    2. Take good care, Barbara. And now my post is toast.

  3. Barbara, as always, thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    So how many of us are wondering about fairy wings and if the bed can support the landings of our attempts at flight?


    1. Oh, my. How many of us are there? How do we find "us"?

  4. Replies
    1. Thank you. Hopefully, some day it might feel more than temporary.


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