Crazy Talk

      No Comments on Crazy Talk


Sometimes I get a bug up my butt* (not literally, because, eeeuw) to write about something, and no matter how I try to avoid it, The Universe™ continually sends me sneaky, snide reminders that I have Something To Write, and eventually I just.can’t.procrastinate any longer.  Like today.  There I was, driving along calmly (seriously, I’m the least road-rage-y person on the planet, so GET MOVING ASSHOLE, THE SPEED LIMIT IS NOT SNAIL), on my way home from work (if you can call it “work” – I have a client who is forever cancelling, so technically, I suppose you can say I go to “work” but once I’m there, I’m not actually doing any work, which means I’m totally qualified to be a politican), making up Christmas medleys in my head**, when I get totally distracted by Bob Marley’s voice on the radio zapping my brain with his dictatorial mandate gentle admonition…

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds

…and I’m like, FUCK.  Because the whole post concept I’ve been stewing over for days and weeks and months has everything to do with (1) freeing my thoughts from their mental corral and allowing them to run roughshod all over this bloggy wilderness, and (2) herding them into some sense of order without chaining them, at least for the short*** amount of time it takes to get out what I want to say.

Which will probably look a bit like word vomit by the time I’m done.

If you are queasy about such things, you might want to leave now.

Also, if you are thirsty, you might want to leave now.  At least long enough to get yourself a drink.  Or possibly a whole bottle****.  Because when you come back, we have some things to discuss.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

While I’m waiting for you to return, I’d like to clarify the following:

*Whoever came up with this phrase must be an entomologist.  Or perhaps a proctologist.  Or perhaps, my mother.

**For example:

I saw mommy kissing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
So you better not pout in a pear tree
‘Round yon virgin I’ll have a blue Christmas

(It’s a work in progress.)

***Short is relative.  But, not my relatives.  So saying “relatively short” is sort of like saying “mostly long and not very lean but with occasionally stooped shoulders and lots of freckles.” Just to clarify.

****If it’s Peach Snapple (or cane sugar Coke, Dr Pepper, or Cheerwine), kindly bring two.

‘Kaythen, now that you’re back…

Today we’re going to talk about Mental Illness.






And the crowd goes wild…

I know, right?!  Because, HAPPY!

Furiously Happy

FURIOUSLY HAPPY, to be exact.  Because that is the title of the book I’m reading (No, I’m not getting paid to plug this book, and as a matter of fact – so far as I am aware – the author, Jenny Lawson, doesn’t know I exist.  I’d like to keep it that way.  Because, SCARY BLOGGER LADY.), and because ’tis the season for The Frenzied Sads® (I don’t know if that’s A Thing, exactly, but I’m patenting it, just in case), when all the carnivores start eating turkey like they’re some sort of waddle-addicted buzzards (the buzzards being the people eating the turkeys, not the turkeys themselves, since the turkeys are not so much *addicted* to their waddles as they are *attached* to them, considering that the waddle is part of a turkey’s anatomy) and then get inexplicably depressed for a month. (Seriously, someone should do research on whether there’s a causal relationship between the two.  Ingest Turkey = Get Depressed)

What was I saying again…?

Oh yes!  Mental Illness.

It’s really not a laughing matter.

Except sometimes it is.  It has to be.  Because sometimes laughing about what ails you is the only way to cope.

I know this because Jenny Lawson said so.  (If you don’t know who Jenny Lawson is, you haven’t been paying attention.  Kindly go back and re-read the paragraph directly underneath the picture of the rabidly joyful raccoon.)  She also says:

There’s something about depression that allows you (or sometimes forces you) to explore depths of emotion that most “normal” people could never conceive of.  Imagine having a disease so overwhelming that your mind causes you to want to murder yourself.  Imagine having a malignant disorder that no one understands.  Imagine having a dangerous affliction that even you can’t control or suppress.  Imagine all the people living life in peace. Imagine the estate of John Lennon not suing me for using that last line.  Then imagine that same (often fatal) disease being one of the most misunderstood disorders . . . one that so few want to talk about and one that so many of us can never completely escape from.

Jenny’s blog, as well as her book{s} (she’s written two so far), deal specifically with her choices and her coping mechanisms regarding her specific chromosomal cocktail of crazy.  And no, I don’t feel the least bit guilty about using that term.  It’s okay to be crazy.  (I know this because Jenny says so.)  Own it.  Do something about it.  Fight!  Win!  Shake your pom-poms.  Or your booty.  Just don’t shake too many screws loose.

Note:  Every time I type “Jenny says” I think of this song.  Which is now playing on repeat over the airwaves in my brain.  (No, that does not mean I’m an airhead.)

I am not, personally, mentally ill.

Uhm.  Let me rephrase:  I do not, personally, have any diagnoses of mental illness.  (This does not mean I’m necessarily right in the head.  Though it’s generally a good idea to assume that I’m RIGHT, period.  At least that’s the safest stance you can take when I’m hungry.)

But I come from a family where Crazy is in the genes (and literally, in the jeans), and I’ve struggled right alongside my kin – differently, but no less difficult – as they’ve warded off demons and talked to angels and played fast and loose with more lives than just their own. I’ve watched, helpless and horrified, while people I care about have blithely gone about the business of train-wrecking their lives (creating lasting casualties in the trauma of their wake), and I’ve stood by as a support, a stalwart lighthouse on a crashing-storm shore, getting pummeled by wave after wave when those same people finally send out an S.O.S.

It’s hard.

For everyone involved.

And one of the hardest things about Crazy is that there are so many social taboos around the idea of “not normal.”  Add in the guilt-heaping nay-sayers’ constant beratement of “There’s nothing wrong with you” and the holistic health gurus’ “You don’t need drugs to fix this” snobbery, and add in a few sprinkles of the religious zealots’ “You’re just not a good enough pray-er” and WOW.  THAT REALLY MAKES A PERSON WANT TO ADMIT THEY NEED HELP.

Aside:  They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, but it seems like the step before that “first step” would be having a problem to begin with. So is that like a pre-step?  (First:  Get yourself a problem!)  Or is the whole “first step” thing really just a maniacal scheme to bamboozle people into thinking they have to take a “first” step when actually they’ve already taken one?  Gah!  It’s like the SATs all over again.  Is this a trick question?!?  This is why I avoid interventions.

grow-cat-nipThere is much debate about the use of drugs (okay, medications) for the treatment of conditions and disorders and phobias and other such mental messiness.

You know what?  Your treatment plan is your treatment plan.  You do what you need to do.


/begin rant/

AND:  Don’t fucking preach at me or my family or anyone else who is trying to find What Works about how “medication is not the answer.”  Do not shout at us from your Pulpit of Normalcy about What We Are Doing Wrong.  Fuck you.  No, seriously.  FUCK YOU. There are no one-size-fits-all answers.

/end rant/

I love this passage from Furiously Happy, because it pretty much sums up how I feel about Keep Trying Until You Find What Works:

When I went on my first antidepressant it had the side effect of making me fixated on suicide (which is sort of the opposite of what you want).  It’s a rare side effect so I switched to something else that did work.  Lots of concerned friends and family felt that the first medication’s failure was a clear sign that drugs were not the answer; if they were I would have been fixed.  Clearly I wasn’t as sick as I said I was if the medication didn’t work for me.  And that sort of makes sense, because when you have cancer the doctor gives you the best medicine and if it doesn’t shrink the tumor immediately then that’s a pretty clear sign you were just faking it for attention.

She goes on to further expound on the idea of trying meds, changing meds, and constantly striving for balance, and stresses that once that balance is found – though it is often tentative at best – everything should just be perfect again and for always.  (She is being facetious.)  Because just like cancer, “once the cancer sufferer is in remission they’re set for life because once they’ve learned how to not have cancer they should be good.  And if they let themselves get cancer again they can just do whatever they did last time.  Once you find the right cancer medication you’re pretty much immune from that disease forever.  And if you get it again it’s probably just a reaction to too much gluten or not praying correctly.  Right?”


A thousand times NO.


I’m not saying drugs are the answer.  I’m also not saying they’re not.  I’m saying they’re an option, and for some people, they are worth exploring.  I’m saying, IF YOU NEED HELP, GET IT.  I’m saying that mental illness is exactly that:  an illness.

No two people are the same.  No two illnesses are the same.  No one person carrying two (or more) diagnoses is ever the same in any given situation, no matter how often said situation repeats itself.

And situations do repeat.


And repeat.

I have written about mental illness on this blog before.  In my family, it is generational.  And with each successive generation, things have gotten – for lack of a better word – worse.

I saw my nephew a few months ago.  It was the first time I’d been in physical contact since his first hospitalization in 2014.  It was the first time I got to see him with my own eyes, and it was the first opportunity I’ve had to have my questions answered (I ask questions – my nephew’s mental illness is not my brother’s mental illness is not my uncle’s mental illness; broad understanding is a Good Thing, but just like all genetics, expressions of a trait differ vastly between individuals) since his breakdowns began.  It was the first time I saw, in flesh and blood, the ways that father had manifested in son.  It was the first time I saw, in black and white, the lists and lists and lists and lists…  Doctors, police interventionists, diagnoses, medications, behavioral modifications, restrictions, etc, ad infinitum.

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Bipolar Disorder
Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD)

Educational Team

And on and on…

And it was the first time I’d seen – truly seen, with heart and head – and felt exactly how giant the wall is that he and his brother and their custodial grandparents are trying to scale.

But the key is, they are trying.

With mental illness – no matter what the label – you can’t stop trying.

For some people, this time of year is when they hit their all-time lows.  Ghosts of Holidays Past haunt.  The weather conspires against us.  There is an expectation of Happy that can feel impossible to live up to.  Everyday struggles somehow stockpile, and for some, that molehill quickly becomes an insurmountable mountainous obstacle.

Depression is a common ailment, one that doesn’t have to be clinically diagnosed to be felt.  And outside of chronic depression, or seasonal depression, there are a myriad of conditions and disorders that include depression, or for which depression is part of a cycle.

ZappaMy dad has PTSD.  When he’s not depressed, he’s angry.  And when he’s neither, he’s self-righteous.  He’s a hard man to live with, and and even harder man to love.  But here’s the thing:  He is mentally ill.  And he is finally – FINALLY – seeking help. Forty-seven years after surviving two tours to Vietnam – tours he volunteered for because he was so broken inside he wanted to die – he is finally seeking help.  He’s still depressed.  Often.  He’s still angry, though less often.  But the key, for me, is that he is finally starting to see the fact that he’s in a hole – one he dug deeper and deeper for himself over the years because you can only be an asshole to people for so long before they walk away; abuse is abuse, and mental illness is not an excuse (that’s a post for another day) – and he is slowly, grumpily climbing his way out of it.

Recovery is a climb.

Day to day living, putting one foot in front of the other, is – for many who suffer from mental illness – a constant climb.

In Furiously Happy, Jenny Lawson talks candidly and humorously about the realities of her constant climb.  And while I’m not one for making one-size-fits-all recommendations of any variety, especially not where What To Read is concerned (book recommendations are extremely personal to me), I am going to say this:

  • If you or someone you know is making that climb, read this book.
  • If you have suffered at your own hands or the hands of someone you love because of mental illness, read this book.
  • If you know nothing about mental illness, but want to learn, read this book.
  • If you don’t believe mental illness is a real thing, READ THIS BOOK.

And if you are suffering:  Go to therapy.  Talk to your friends.  See your doctor.  Run marathons.  Do yoga.  FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU.  Keep climbing.

I don’t have any grand point, or perfect answer.  I am not an expert, nor do I play one on TV.  I am just a person, one who gives a damn about people, especially the people I love. I don’t know why these thoughts have been clamoring in my head, but now they are out, wreaking havoc all over the page.  And maybe, just maybe, somebody out there will need to read what I wrote just as much as I needed to write it.

I don’t have any brilliant way to end this post, so I will leave you with this:

peanuts (1)

And go easy on the turkey. Seriously.

0 thoughts on “Crazy Talk

    1. Mrs Fever Post author

      A word to the wise: Do not drink anything while reading, unless you enjoy that burning sensation you get in your nostrils when you snort liquid out your nose.

      Also: Beware of taxidermy.

      (Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

  1. Jayne

    I like when your mind is a fireworks show.
    You touched on many aspects of dealing with mental illness and it seems daunting at times. It’s a good thing you’re a tenacious one. xo, J

    1. Mrs Fever Post author

      I was asked recently to describe, in one word, my strongest personality trait.

      My answer? Tenacity.

      As for the fireworks show… Sometimes it’s crazy trying to type as fast as I think. My fingers can’t always keep up. Hopefully there weren’t too many stray sparks. 😉

      1. Jayne

        I followed but then again, there are sometimes that I wish I had a keyboard for each hand because of the separate but weaving thoughts on a subject.
        Tenacity…if tenacity is what rock is in “rock , paper , scissors” what are the other two traits? calmness (level-headedness – is that a word? Now it is.) and Ballistic??? no Tenacity, Control and Accuracy…I don’t know what the point is with this question. : )

  2. dokurtybitz

    *hugs* as always (i mean you ARE always right) you express the challenges, pitfalls and ways around (well how to approach) mental illness. I will be getting that book, it looks to be a great read 🙂

    1. Mrs Fever Post author

      Heh. Well, sometimes I’m left. But ssshhhhhh… 😉

      It is, truly, a great read. I think it would resonate with you. (Though the whole cat rodeo thing might leave you scratching your head.)

  3. cb

    I am a firm believer in “Better Living Through Chemistry”. I have read enough to convince me that depression is real and due to chemical imbalances the the brain’s and nervous system’s neurotransmitters. In principal it should be a simple thing to quantify the imbalance and then prescribe the correct medications. Reality is different; side effects, finding the right medication or mix thereof, etc. Alcohol has traditionally been the over-the-counter self medication of choice.

    Mental illness is an illness, like any other illness. And like any other illness it may or may not be easy to treat. But you are absolutely right: see your doctor and find out what works best for you. As genetically different as we are, one size does not fit all.

    1. Mrs Fever Post author

      On paper, it is a simple matter of quantifying and calculating. In reality, not so much. And if multiple issues are being treated, it’s especially difficult to find the “just right” factor. (Where’s Goldilocks when you need her?)

      Self-medication, whether in the form of alcohol or other street drugs, is common. The thing is, alcohol is a depressant. Treating depression with a depressant doesn’t exactly do a body good. And if you’re an addict, it does a body rotten. But you’re right, it’s often the drug of choice.

      I’ve seen prescription meds work wonders. I’ve also seen them make things worse. And sometimes they make no difference at all. But the same can be said for naturopathic approaches. What works for one person is exactly that: What Works for *that* one person. And what works right now is likewise exactly that: What Works, Right Now. It is a continual process. But when it comes to matters of health, the same can be said of a great many things.

    1. Mrs Fever Post author

      Oh, is *that* what you were groping for?! The light switch is on the other side of the room, buddy! 😛

      Cheerwine – Yes, please! In a glass, chock full of ice. 🙂

  4. Olga

    I just found out a year ago that I could be suffering from PTSD. It had nothing to do with coming back from war, but enduring an “emotionally abusive” relationship in the past and not having dealt with what it had done to me. Swallowing emotions and locking away the key. I thought I was ‘normal’, but like your father I had become an ‘anger addict’ and my OCD was very obvious. I have found peace in my life by accepting help in understanding that it was not my fault and now I am joyously creative in my life. I will pick up “Furiously Happy” next time I’m in a book store. Probably just before Christmas. Loved your post!

    1. Mrs Fever Post author

      Thank you so much for sharing your story! <3

      PTSD comes in many forms and it can be tough to overcome, both for the person suffering and for the people around them. I am so happy you've found peace.

  5. Jamie Ray

    Runs in my family too. My mother and her mother never got help for it (classic Narcissistic Personality Disorder, depression, and severe anxiety). They were deeply ashamed when I went into therapy because it proved there was “something wrong with me”. And then they couldn’t understand why I didn’t want children…
    Will check out Furiously Happy.

    1. Mrs Fever Post author

      It is always the guiltiest who point fingers, and I think – especially in matters of mental health – it is often the most fearful who try to make others afraid. Shame is a weapon too easily wielded for exactly that purpose.

      The book is well worth reading, if for no other reason than for the laughter it brings. Through her lens, depression and anxiety are a poignantly funny mix of heartwrenching and hilarious. And REAL. I hope you enjoy it. 🙂

  6. Dancing Echoes

    Great post! I long for the day when people (read society) pulls its head out of its proverbial ass and recognizes that mental illness is a disease. We are all a fine balance of chemicals that sometimes get unbalanced to the detriment of the individual. Same with sexuality. We all have varying degrees of male and female characteristics regardless of our chromosomes (note: this is NOT a disease). I am talking intolerance to difference here. I love the fact that everyone’s chemical makeup is unique.
    And who are these “normal police” anyway?

    1. Mrs Fever Post author

      There are SO many factors that contribute to a person’s development: nature and nurture, diet and environment, structure and autonomy, etc.

      On the one hand, our individual chromosomal cocktails pre-determine Who We Will Become. On the other hand, all those other factors – combined with free will – alter our courses and we create our destinies. Humanity, for all its simplicity, is incredibly complicated. And individuals, for all their perfectly oiled machinery, are riddled with quirks.

      Brain science is still a relatively new field, and psychology is an admittedly questionable one. But they are tools to use in understanding ourselves, and when a person’s functionality (or lack thereof) becomes detrimental or dangerous – to themselves or others – we must start somewhere.

      I agree, mental illness is exactly that: an illness. And just like any other disease, the symptoms and the solutions vary as vastly as the lifestyles and personalities of the people affected. I look forward to the day when the stigma associated with mental illness fades. It will only happen through openness and honesty and willingness to share our stories.

    1. Mrs Fever Post author

      Ah, yes. Knowledge has power, and when knowledge is applied to perception, perception alters. So if our perception of the universe has changed, have we just changed the universe?

      Sometimes “advances” are setbacks. Man remakes himself in the image of the machine(s) he creates. Dehumanization is a byproduct of the Industrial Age. Or is it the other way around?

      Not sure how I feel about the whole HeLa cells thing…

      The Disease Immortal. (Which sounds like a rockabilly spoken word artist’s nam de plume.)

      A n y w a y

      Sometimes we place too much faith in science, especially in medicine. After all, it wasn’t all that long ago that icepick labotamies were considered a healthy option for treating everything from shell shock to schizophrenia. And not too long before that, that “hysterical” females were “treated” in an analyst’s office with vibrators. (Though, while orgasms *are* an effective mood-altering drug, I cannot fathom having one in my doctor’s office.)

      But we live and learn. And if at first we don’t get our heads screwed on straight, we screw, screw again.

      Or something like that. 😉

      1. wildoats1962

        I heard the term “Ice Pick Lobotomy” for the first time about 10 years ago. They were considered less invasive than traditional lobotomies. Trepanning was essentially an early lobotomy. Some people just go crazy making holes, or they’re crazy because of holes. Holes figure in there somewhere.

        Thinking of the Dr’s office reminds me of a joke about glitter.
        The woman had a gyno appt and was running a little late getting the kids off to school. No time to shower, she noticed her daughters washcloth on the sink and decided to give a quick wipe. At the Dr’s office, staring off into space, when the Dr commented. “I see we wanted to be special today.” She ignored the comment. Later when her daughter came home from school the girl asked, “Mom, Where’s my washrag?” The mother replied, “Just get another one.” The girl complained, “But that one had my glitter collection!”

        1. Mrs Fever Post author

          My job takes me to strange and unusual places. In the course of my work I was once subjected to watching a mental health patient voluntarily get a hole drilled in her head. (It was on video, but… SQUICK.) And it was done recently, like around 2007. So trepanning? Not exactly an “ancients-only” practice.


          There are actually old newspaper advertisements and posters for ice pick procedures. It’s a rather peculiar vein of collectible ephemera.

          People are strange.

  7. Elusive Trope

    One of the most common encounters I have had is that now that I have found the right mix of meds that “work,” I should be “fixed” — otherwise the meds aren’t actually working.

    1. Mrs Fever Post author

      Nothing is ever *that* uncomplicated. 🙂

      I know that one of the frustrations my people encounter is finding a solution (and by that I mean improving/maintaining/functioning, not “fixing”) that works long-term. Often medications have to be changed and/or dosages tweaked, because the body builds up a tolerance, or because the chemistry just isn’t *quite* right. “It works” often means “It’s working… For now.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge