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Thread: Being called 'crazy' and society's assumptions about mental health

  1. #1
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    Being called 'crazy' and society's assumptions about mental health

    This came up today:

    http://www.mind.org.uk/news-campaign.../#.VRaEb1wlrGm

    https://www.thecalmzone.net/2015/03/...wings-tragedy/

    It seems that some journalists said that the man crashed the plane BECAUSE he was depressed. Putting forward that idea might mean that people start to think that depressed people are likely to be murderers... which is not statistically true. They might hurt themselves, but not others.

    I am feeling strong enough at the moment to speak out when I hear people talk about people that suffer with poor mental health in a derogatory way.

    I used to refer to myself as 'crazy'. Yesterday I heard a woman who was talking very loudly next to me in a cafe calling her old housemate 'crazy'. 'She didn't pay her rent! Turned out she was an alcoholic, and she was suicidal. It was unpleasant. I didn't want to live with crazy people.'

    I interrupted her, apologised for being able to hear her, and said that I found it offensive to that she called a depressed person 'crazy'. She said, 'I have got friends that are depressed, actually!'. I said 'well then, why do you talk about them like that?' To which she shut me down - she didn't want to get into an argument. I'd made my point so I shut up.

    I'm not going to refer to myself as 'crazy' any more. Even though sometimes I feel that way about myself, I now see that it can spread discrimination. It's a reductive word. This woman seemed very judgemental and didn't show any empathy for other people's suffering. She might not be always like that, but one loud conversation in public can make a difference to someone. It's the conversations like that, overheard in a cafe, or your friend talking about depression like it's nothing more than an inconvenience to other people, that make people afraid of being 'out' about their mental health problems.

    Later I heard her say, 'no matter what mental health problems someone is experiencing, they can't behave like that - they have to pay their rent.' I'm not sure what I think about this. I have paid my rent always, but there have been times that I have not been able to cope with what was demanded of me. Perhaps a better understanding of how incredibly difficult the simple things become for sufferers might help other people cut them some slack.

    What do you think about calling yourself 'crazy'?

    How do you feel you are judged by society?

  2. #2
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    Re: Being called 'crazy' and society's assumptions about mental health

    Good for you Lior! When I was first coming to grips with the most pressing manifestations of my disorder, which needed addressing immediately, I crumbled in tears as I realized it could be lumped under "crazy". Eventually I came to be able to joke about my "special kind of crazy". Now I realize that I have the advantage of being able to recognize what is happening, even when I am suffering, and experienced gratitude for that, and for finding the right medication/s to help me. So, I am no longer feeling sorry for myself, and am accepting of where I am at, and glad to be able to take responsibility as much as I can for myself.

    What I find most upsetting is when people say that depression is "no excuse" for everything from "being negative" to not getting out of the house more. Wait. What??? In fact, depression is very much a reason for just these types of things! They pretty much are defining symptoms. What do they suppose depression means? I guess the diagnoses of mental illness, the terms themselves have been overused to the point of being imagined as just a temporary state of mind that one is giving vent to by choice.

    I agree with you Lior, and I will stop calling myself crazy (it's not funny anymore, outside of my self-help group, anyway). But I would appreciate it if people would stop thinking of me as a slacker when all I've tried to do is to share my illness in order to shed some light on my behavior. And to give them the opportunity to work with me a little, so I am able to feel accepted, and yes, to be less "negative". To feel encouraged to get out and do more, knowing that they care. How is blaming a person for their illnesses, and being so judgmental about their intentions supposed to help? But of course, they aren't concerned with helping. They only want to judge, and to bully.

    There is/are a number of professionals and others who have educated themselves about mental illness, and are compassionate and kind. But the stigma is still widespread among the ignorant, and of course, they are still adamant in their prejudices, and their self-righteous need to bully the rest of us.

    Perhaps the best approach is to drop the word 'crazy' and use the actual diagnostic terminology that we have accepted. And to reach out to the first group and refuse to acknowledge the latter. And to help one another. Until the bullies suffer what we do, or it happens to someone they love, they aren't likely to believe anything they are told. More strength please for those of us who have them as family members.

    I say again, I love this forum! And much love to such as you on here, Lior! xo

    Marie

  3. #3
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    Re: Being called 'crazy' and society's assumptions about mental health

    Ooh, it's a very tricky question I think, as the word crazy can have so many different degrees of it - I mean it's used in some very generic situations e.g. "those sunglasses are crazy!" as well as in a derogatory way - I do think the majority of usage is the former though - where there is no actual intention of categorising somebody as having a mental health problem, simply a way of expressing that they are/have chosen to express themselves in a different way(s) to the speaker. I've been called crazy about a million times (rough guess...) and the majority of those times the name caller was unaware that I have experienced any kind of mental health problems, so I don't tend to take it in any way offensively.

    I concur with your point though at the core of it, there is a lot of derogatory language in the media and amongst the public about mental health - as well as lot of confusion and not enough awareness about it. One of the worst societal assumptions in my opinion, is that there is some sort of 'normal' state that everyone should be at - it makes it seem as if you only have mental health if you are diagnosed with anxiety, depression or otherwise...

    Don't know if you've seen the Rethink Mental Illness website: http://www.rethink.org/ And this was a really interesting buzzfeed article supporting the Get the Picture campaign which Rethink, Mind and Time to Change are all part of: http://www.buzzfeed.com/laurasilver/...lly-looks-like
    I'm really pleased that there are organisations out there trying to change stigma.

    I find myself very interested by these kind of discussions, but it's taken the most ridiculous amount of time to find the right words to express my opinions, so that will have to do for now

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    Re: Being called 'crazy' and society's assumptions about mental health

    I refer to myself as bonkers but never been called crazy ,the sad truth is I did go bonkers for a while.Personally I couldn't care less what people label me as or call me but I can understand how it can seriously hurt others
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    Re: Being called 'crazy' and society's assumptions about mental health

    I have had mental health problems for over 20 years and I've always affectionately called myself "mental". On occasion I've also referred to periods in my life when I've gone "a bit nutty". I would never use those words towards others nor would I particularly want someone else to use them towards me. When I use those words towards me I am not using them in a derogatory way at all. They use seem the rights words for me personally.

  6. #6
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    Re: Being called 'crazy' and society's assumptions about mental health

    Personally, I would say that you can stop people using certain words, but until society dramatically changes its levels of understanding and judgement towards mental health, on a much wider plain, nothing will really change.

    Somebody might not openly discriminate against others for their race / sexuality / gender etc. because they know it isn't tolerated, but it doesn't stop them from continuing to have the negative attitude internally - just telling them that they can't call someone an X, Y or Z, isn't really going to solve or change the way they think or act.

    Unless we can change how society thinks as a whole, and especially how the media portray certain groups of people, we are going to be stuck in the dark ages.
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  7. #7
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    Re: Being called 'crazy' and society's assumptions about mental health

    I've just been listening to Tanya Byron being interviewed on BBC 6music - she made a very valid point about how there should be no such thing as sanity and insanity - just a multitude of different options in between - interesting interview if you get a chance to listen, probably on iplayer for a week or so... It's so true, my CBT has shown me that everyone HAS mental health and everyone has problems with it, just to different degrees (a concept that has helped me a lot!). If this was an idea that wider society (and the media) was willing to accept, I don't think there would be such a stigma.

    This is something that just crossed my mind, and this seemed like the most relevant thread for it at the mo...

  8. #8
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    Re: Being called 'crazy' and society's assumptions about mental health

    Quote Originally Posted by Mindknot View Post
    I've just been listening to Tanya Byron being interviewed on BBC 6music - she made a very valid point about how there should be no such thing as sanity and insanity - just a multitude of different options in between - interesting interview if you get a chance to listen, probably on iplayer for a week or so... It's so true, my CBT has shown me that everyone HAS mental health and everyone has problems with it, just to different degrees (a concept that has helped me a lot!). If this was an idea that wider society (and the media) was willing to accept, I don't think there would be such a stigma.

    This is something that just crossed my mind, and this seemed like the most relevant thread for it at the mo...
    I agree... I HAAAATE it when people say things like "he (or she) really isn't normal", as though 'normal' is some kind of quantifiable thing. Mental health is neither black nor white, but one of a million shades of grey.
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    On many occasions, if my life had a face, I would punch it. Kim Pine (adapted from)

    If the person you are talking to does not appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear. Winnie-the-pooh

    Up ahead they's a thousan' lives we might live, but when it comes it'll on'y be one. Ma Joad

  9. #9
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    Re: Being called 'crazy' and society's assumptions about mental health

    I changed my user name from Psychopoet to Nopoet, as the days of thinking of myself as mad, or mentally unstable, are long over. And society does use the word "psycho" too much, and inappropriately - in fact I am guilty of this today (although I am 100% sure the person I am talking about has serious problems).

    It always amuses me when I overhear neurotypical people spouting off about "crazy" people or "nutters", like anyone with a problem should be locked away or exterminated, as if they themselves are somehow the perfect examples of humanity rather than opinionated prats with no life experience.
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  10. #10
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    Re: Being called 'crazy' and society's assumptions about mental health

    Interesting...I get called "crazy" a lot but very few people know I have a mental health condition...they say it because I'm loud and gregarious and silly..I'm sure they'd be horrified if they knew! I must admit though mental health issues are very hard to talk about and very hard to understand when you don't suffer from one so I put it down to ignorance.

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