I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell. ~ Matchbox 20
I love that song, love that line. It seems to sum up the way I’m trying to think about mental illnesses, mine in particular, currently. It seems to me that the difference between sane and crazy is just a matter of degree. So, I’m not crazy, per se, I’m just a little more unwell than the rank and file.
Being unwell makes things challenging in a way that someone who’s less unwell finds difficult to understand. I wonder if that’s because of the lack of effort I put into making myself clear. I say, “I’m depressed” or “I’m anxious” and because I know what I mean, I assume that the other person is also speaking my language. If they don’t react the way I expect, I assume they’re judging me and finding me wanting, when perhaps it’s just that they don’t understand what those terms mean to me.
We, the well and unwell, feel the same things, I just take those feelings that we share to an extreme degree, to a level they are fortunate enough not to visit.
Take anxiety. Say I lose a book. To me, that’s dire. If my son loses a book, he looks for it, but if he can’t find it, he lets it go. That amazes me. To me, losing something from my environment is intolerable, a rip in the organization I require to keep me calm. If something is missing, I can’t let go. I start to obsess and panic. I look compulsively. I re-investigate the same areas over and over, before starting to widen the field. My mind races with possibilities: did someone take it? could I have put it somewhere else? where is it? did I lend it out? did someone take it? I circle through the same thoughts, over and around as my frantic feelings increase. The best-case scenario is that I find it quickly. The worst is that the missing item isn’t found, even after days, leaving me agitated for some time. I’ve even repurchased items to make the environment once again complete.
That’s what I should tell someone when I say I’m having a panic attack. That’s how I should explain it. I should make sure I talk about the feelings I’m having at the beginning; if I’d explain that, perhaps people would relate because honestly, I think everyone has similar feelings about a lot of common situations. We all feel, for instance, irritation and panic when something goes missing. It’s just those of us who suffer from various mental disorders take our thoughts and emotions further into the rabbit hole.
But I’m starting to think we’re not altogether different, the well and unwell. This is good for me. I’m starting to realize that if they’re like me, then I’m like them. I’m starting to remember that I’m still a person, even though I suffer from mental illnesses. I think those of us who suffer lose sight of that fact, that we’re people, fairly easily. It feels good to start to remember. I’m a person and I’m not crazy, just a little unwell.
(a little late-night, stream of consciousness mental ramble)