Dear Crazy

Part of The Offing's National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month Spotlight

Throughout July, The Offing observes National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month with a spotlight, across genres and departments, on work that considers the intersections of race, ethnicity, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, and mental health and illness. This is one of our spotlighted works.

Dear Crazy,

If I told you that you’ve won, would you leave me alone?

I overworked myself into a manic episode —  the biggest one yet  — and I didn’t even know it was happening. I had to be filled in  by a friend who witnessed it.

How do you tell someone, Yes, you saw me violate an appalling number of social norms , but I swear it wasn’t me. Apologizing for something you don’t remember seems both inherently disingenuous and hopelessly inadequate.

It had never occurred to me that experiencing major episodes would be an ongoing experience. Now the thought that this scenario may repeat itself many times over the course of my life brings me tear-inducing anxiety. I’d rather stay inside the rest of my life, alone, than ever have another episode in front of a friend. That’s how traumatic it is. I don’t think I can survive it happening again.

Dear Crazy,

I vacillate between feeling everything and nothing at all.

It’s hard for me to convey to neurotypical friends that my despair about this last manic episode isn’t about the embarrassment. Yes, it’s mortifying, but it was also dangerous. If I hadn’t been in someone’s home, in an enclosed space,  it could have been worse — I could have hurt myself. I feel hopeless because this last episode will surely not be the last episode. Now, I’m stuck with pesky flashbacks that have reared their head in the last month. Mania works that way: no memory initially, and then the flashbacks come flooding. It’s like my brain taunts me and takes twisted satisfaction in stopping me in my tracks — in the shower, in the subway, everywhere.

I’m choked by anxiety, embarrassment, guilt and memory.

Dear Crazy,

I’m suicidal more than I’m not.

In the throes of my post-manic episode depression, I decided I wanted out. It dawned on me that this goal of “beating” my mental illness is a fool’s pursuit. Death seemed the only way out for me. I felt as if I’d lost this hand. I contemplated jumping out of my window, overdosing on medication, slitting my wrists and as Sylvia Plath so eloquently described, leaving a sea of poppies on my bedroom floor. I did none of those things.

Yes, I’ve been suicidal, but I’m still here and have no plans to check out early. Still, I need to have the space to say that. The silence will kill me if nothing else does.

Dear Crazy,

I’m terrified of people seeing you and I together and running far, far away from the both of us.

Being mentally ill means being in constant mourning of one’s previous self. My illness is an heirloom I’ve been running from my entire life. Sanity is precious, and I highly suggest holding on to it if one can.

The crazy has beaten me up, but I’m okay with not being okay. I’ve accepted that my suicidal ideations will be my uninvited house guests forever.

This illness has done everything the prognosis said it would. It’s made me a recluse. It’s made me scared to connect with others lest they witness how crazy I am and distance themselves from me. I find myself withdrawing from my friends.

My light is deteriorating, and there’s nothing I can do but watch. I’m twenty-six years old, and I have lost more than I’ve won. But I’m here to declare a truce with my illness, to be at tenuous peace with it. I know it’s never going away, but, at least,  I’ve learned to live.

The Coded Body

Part of The Offing's National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month spotlight

Why Spotlight Minority Mental Health?

“Brain chemistry is tricky, especially for artists, and as much as we want to feel ‘normal’, we can’t stand feeling ‘normal.’”