Thursday, September 06, 2007

What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day

I've read the book by Pearl Cleage, but what has always stuck with me most is the title.

I've always been drawn to topics that reverberate within my self-labeled crazy soul. Naturally, craziness itself applies here, as well as things that refer or seem to refer to craziness. The title drew me to the book like an extremely powerful magnet.

However, this post is nothing really to do with the book. It's the title. Or rather, the phrase that is the title.

What looks like crazy on an ordinary day

Is this a question or a description? For the longest time I was hearing it in my brain as a description. But just tonight it is echoing as a question. What does look like crazy on an ordinary day? Does that mean what does crazy look like to the outsider? Or what does crazy look like from the inside? What is ordinary to the crazy? What looks like crazy to the crazy? How does crazy ever become everyday?

My sister hallucinates, both visual and auditory. The walls talk to her. She sees tiny little people in business suits. (these are just two examples) At what point does this kind of sensitory experience become so commonplace that you can just tune it out like background noise? How can you ever become so accustomed to something so bizarre that you DON'T spend your entire life screaming in horror? When do you become so used to it that you aren't constantly asking someone else, "Do you see that? Do you hear that?"

There are a lot of questions I haven't asked my sister. Like, does she hear and see this stuff all the time? How does she determine what is real? Can she? I'm not sure what has prevented me from asking her. I think a lot of it is avoidance of dealing with the whole mentally-ill issue, as if it might precipitate a crisis. Some of it is a form of political correctness of sorts. As if I don't want to indicate by my conversation that I see her as anything other than a completely "normal" person. (similar to the way parents cringe when their kid goes up to a stranger and yells in the super-loud kid voice, "hey mister, what's wrong with you?") shhhhhh, let's all pretend nothing's wrong and then we won't have to deal with all the complications.

Mental illness is exhausting. [I'm speaking from my own viewpoint, as one who is struggling with several issues of my own, which leave me on the higher-functioning end of the spectrum of mentally ill, in that I am capable of living on my own.] One of the primary things that you find yourself doing is pretending to other people that there's nothing wrong with you. You hide your illness. This can occasionally be amusing for me, as I see other people struggling to keep themselves from delving into the too-personal. I'll get the cocktail party question of "And what do you do for work?" and my answer is along the lines of "Oh, I don't work." Naturally they are then curious, knowing that I am a divorced single mom, of how the hell I manage to pay the bills. They cannot, however, with any social grace, ASK me this. And I don't volunteer. So, not really knowing what else to say, I'll get a response something like "how nice for you!"

Now, I can definitely tell you, having a mental illness is NOT "nice." Mine is not on the same scale as my sister's, but "nice" it is not. It quite frankly sucks. Yes, it's good to be out of the "rat race," but the REASON I'm out of it is because I can't be in it. Just cannot. I tried. I'm still trying. I hope that eventually, with the right combination of meds and skills gained through therapy, that I will be able to rejoin society as a productive member.

So anyway. I'm intrigued by thinking about this. What does crazy look like to me? Am I looking at crazy from the inside or the outside? How much of what I see as ordinary is crazy, and how much of what I see as crazy is ordinary? How do I reconcile the two?

Them's some of my thoughts for the night. Gonna go ponder some more. mk

1 comment:

The Beast Mom said...

My answer is: "I don't know". So much of what's "normal" to one person isn't normal to another. And your point about nutty things being so commonplace that they become normal/forgettable/acceptable(?), is true more often than not. So if I'm perpetually angry/sad, then angry/sad becomes my normal, does it not? Even if others think it's ABnormal.

Even though you have your "issues" as you say, I like you a lot. :)