Does Being Mental Mean I’m Crazy?

Written by dr. j. Posted in Health Matters, Mind

Sometimes life has a way of overwhelming you. The everyday problems seem life is stressinsurmountable. You think, "That’s it! Just one more thing and I’ve had it!" Hey, I feel your pain. I’ve been there, literally to hell and back. So before you go and do anything rash, let me share this with you…

I had a problem…one that nearly got the best of me.   And I’m so glad that I’m on the other side of it.
Let me explain…

Many years ago, I fell into a deep, dark depression after an estranged friend of mine killed himself. I predicted that it would happen. Heck it was easy to see; you didn’t need a crystal ball. Yet his family chose to ignore the warning signs. And, he ended his life at 19. I was so distraught, angry, hurt…I wanted to go to the funeral just so I could ring his mother’s neck. I could actually see myself doing it. Not a good sign.

"I told her he would do this." It was a hard time for me, a very hard time. And I just wanted the pain to go away. I contemplated and planned to end my life, and was pretty open about it with my family when asked.

Thanks to God, I got on the other side of that. Mine was what is now called a reactive depression. It occurred due to a crisis of conscious.  I had inadvertently taken responsibility for someone else’s actions. I had become enmeshed with his plight because I had been fighting for him for so long.

I knew I had a problem I couldn’t get beyond. It was dragging me down.

I just wanted the pain to stop.

So I devised a plan to whack myself while off at summer school. You see, I didn’t want to traumatize my friends at my college; they were already alarmed enough by my change in behavior. They would’ve had a hard time returning to school if I had done something like this there.

So off to Texas I went.

It’s amazing how well you can do your normal activities of life once you make that decision and become resolute on its completion. My grades were stellar. I was taking some heady courses, like cell and tissue biology, logic and physics. At that time, my cousin was running a psychiatric ward. I’m not sure how she got wind of what was going on with me. However she became the designated family member to approach me. She asked if I would consider taking medicines. My answer to her was, "If medicines would help, don’t you think I would’ve taken them by now?" I thought, "This isn’t something medicine can fix."

From that point, she left me alone in my misery, not knowing what to do. She never asked me what was going on, what was behind it all. That COULD have been a fatal mistake because I was apart of the most dangerous category of depressed persons, someone who was suicidal with a plan.

I was actually in the process of my suicide ritual when the pain went away.

For me, talking to someone would have made all the difference because the only one I was really talking to was myself. And we know what kind of conversation I was having; a one way dialogue that was speeding me towards self destruction.

It’s been nearly 30 years since that happened. She’s never really spoken to me since that summer. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because that incident caused her to look at something she didn’t want to deal with. Maybe it’s because I remind her how she felt at that time – impotent, weak, powerless. I don’t know. Her avoidance is not about my issues but hers.

So I understand that’s a fear for many of you…a loss of love, respect or comaderie with someone you care for. Heck, admitting you have a problem is hard.

Walking though the door to get help is even harder. I’m sure some of these thoughts go through your head:

"What will my friends think?"
"What will my parents think?"
"What will my spouse think?"
"People will look at me different."
"What if I see someone there that I know? Oh how embarrassing…"

But the reality is this:
There is a problem…one that isn’t going away…one you’ve tried to address on your own with limited success.  And…

YOU are the one in PAIN!

So now you think maybe, just maybe, it’s time to see if someone can hear you out, if someone can make some sense of the chaos, if someone can see if you’re crazy.

But what is crazy?

That term has been knocked around for so long that, aside from extremes, it’s hard to put real meaning to it. Many people picture scenes from The Shining or  One Who Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Many of the people I know think that anyone who commits an atrocious act/crime automatically must be crazy. However…

Dalmer wasn’t.
Neither was Manson or Bundy.
That doesn’t mean that their behavior was not pathological.

Two of these men knew they had a compulsion to kill; they didn’t see it as a problem though. They were OK with their sociopathic behavior, their intrigue with murder and death…and gave into the urges willingly, allowing it to drive them to more abased and ghastly behavior.  I am speaking here of Dalmer and Bundy.

Manson was adept at praying on weak minds and turning them into his army, to do his bidding, no questions asked…just like Hitler did. On this level, he displayed a type of genius.

However being labeled ‘mental’ does not mean that you will enact gruesome crimes against humanity. Mental illness comes in a variety of forms and is defined by diagnostic codes. These codes define disorders from Attention Deficit Disorder to Alzheimer’s disease, to Depression to psychotic disorders like Schizophrenia.

Substance abuse disorders (addictions) are also listed there…as are other disorders due to medical illnesses and brain damage.

Finally, there is a class of disorders that comes from failures in parenting – the personality disorders. They are dysfunctional patterns people have due to their maladaptive responses to stress and their environment.

So, most of the people treated for mental disorders are far from crazy. Most are having difficulties in their lives which can be corrected or made significantly better through the use of insight oriented therapy work, behavior modification, biofeedback and/or medications. For some, the medications help improve or constrain the symptoms so the real work can be done in therapy.

For others, reality distortion is the problem. They usually require medications that can improve the imbalance of neurotransmitters that cause such symptoms as paranoia, hearing voices, seeing things that aren’t real or sustained high moods where a person doesn’t sleep for weeks on end.

You can also have reality distortion with severe depression.

If you suspect that you may have something out of kilter, that realization usually means that you’re on the other side of being crazy per se, because people who have lost perception of reality many times do not know this…they perceive that altered reality as REAL.

If you’re concerned about your safety or someone you care for, please, by all means, TALK to someone about it. You can never take back a non-action. The life you save may be your own.

So, to wrap this up…

Q: Are there crazy people in the world?
A: Yes there are! Talk to any bag ladies lately?

Q: Does this necessarily mean they are dangerous?
A: For the majority, no, they aren’t dangerous, just delusional.

Q: Are there people that medications do not help appreciably?
A: Yes, though this is now also rare.

cj

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