Why I Hate it When People Misuse the Word “Crazy”

Tonight I lost my mind when my boyfriend called Elon Musk “Crazy”.

“He’s fucking crazy,” he says, laughing while waiting for his bagel to toast.

“He isn’t crazy.” I don’t like that word, not when it’s used to describe a person. “He’s a genius,” I tell him, “And he’s on the autism spectrum and he’s perhaps narcissistic but he’s not out of control. He’s not crazy.”

Crazy is a difficult disaster.

If you’ve been crazy you know it: The disadvantage, rushing water waste of you, wearing thin and on the floor and waiting for someone or something to remind you that you are just a creative genius and everything is ok.

It’s a special kind of lonely agony.

I’ve been crazy, I don’t remind my boyfriend that, I’ve been gone, out of it, running down the street in the middle of Montreal’s February in nothing but a leotard throwing soap out of my purse onto a street full of strangers, having the time of my life, returning home and weeping.

It’s a way-way-way out there way-way-way gone mess. And, recovering from it takes a lengthy, lasting will to exist.

I’m listening to his argument, “Elon Musk is crazy”, wealth and greed and mistreating your employees is crazy, he’s crazy.

No, those things are cruel. He might be cruel but crazy and cruel are not the same thing.

If you’ve been to Crazy, you know it stains. It stains even your future, which is fucking upsetting but at least, we guess, it’s not death.

I think, and at least I have a man in my life who is kind to all the people who need him when it’s obvious to him that he needs to be kind.

It’s not obvious to him in this moment to be kind to me because he has an argument and rearranging his argument to consider the fact that he is triggering me would me thinking through my feelings which, is the exact problem he has with Elon Musk, isn’t it?

Being inconsiderate is not the same as being crazy. Close, but it’s not that easy.

Thoughtlessness is not unique.

Most people feel comfortable in their repertoire of impulse.

Not us crazies, though. We are uncomfortably out of control. Even we are uncomfortable with it but the thing about mania, delusion, schizophrenic episodes, psychosis: It cannot be stopped. Not for an interview, not for the cameras, not to run a company.

Crazy is completely off-putting.

When you see it coming, you sentence yourself to the other side of the street, put your head down and run if you can because something is wrong, something is out of control and wrong with this person. Leave them alone.

I know the “uh oh you’re crazy” look.

It’s the look of a nervous system twisting into panic.

It’s the look of complete doubt, pity and terror organized into frozen cheeks and stilted eyebrows.

It hurts with sufficient shame to be called Crazy.

And after years of crumbling and numbing myself into normalcy, it hurts even more to be insulted by a close companion’s disrespect for the complexity of personal chaos.

I hear you say “Crazy” and I feel a weighted pressure to prove myself.

Cue the existential nightmares.

This is the way out for me tonight:

Non-alcoholic beer, a great e-book from the library on my phone, sitting outside in the fresh air, I read every word out loud.

Letting in a different story, I don’t really feel personally attacked anymore. Instead, I feel enticed by fiction.

Escaping into fiction has been a lifelong passion of mine.

That’s why I became an actor and a playwright.

I feel at peace when I’m in a far-away land.

Departure is part of the sickness. But, practice of returning is part of recovery. As long as I return, I can decide to stay here.

“I don’t like when you use that word to describe people,” I’ll tell him. “It’s disrespectful to survivors of mental illness and to me because I’ve lived chapters of my life without any semblance of sanity and I have to keep working on that sanity because I know it might be fleeting. When you offhandedly call someone Crazy offhandedly, you underestimate its disease and you minimize its impact. That’s unfair and it’s hurtful.”

And I don’t know what he’ll say.


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