Why I stopped calling things “crazy”

Crazy is a word that I used to say a lot. My weekend was or wasn’t crazy, I had a crazy day and need to unwind, I saw a crazy person walking down the street.

So when I got Mental Health First Aid Certified last month, I started thinking about my own mental illness in concert with others’. People who experience psychosis, anxiety, personality disorders, what-have-you, are called crazy on the daily. Whether it be in a relationship or comment from a stranger, we deal with it more often than even we think.

I felt like it was time for me to stop using “crazy” as one of my choice descriptors. Why?:

1. It’s a platitude

How many times have you been in a conversation with someone, barely able to hold interest? When the time comes for you to react, you say in a flat affect “Wow, that’s crazy.”

It’s a reaction for the sake of reacting when you could be actively engaged or, for goodness’ sake, finding something better to do with your time. If there’s anything I’ve learned over the last few years, talking for talking’s sake is a waste of everyone’s energy. Speak with meaning.

2. It’s prejudicial

According to Merriam Webster, crazy is defined as:

“(1) full of cracks or flaws : unsound
(2) a : not mentally sound : marked by thought or action that lacks reason : insane; b (1) : impractical; (2) : erratic
(3) c : being out of the ordinary : unusual”

Listen, I know this definition means that the word “crazy” can actually be applied in numerous ways. But it has primarily negative connotations. The first implies that something “crazy” is broken and flawed, and the second implies that it is mentally insane. Someone calling another person crazy doesn’t have good intentions.

Psychosis is typically defined as a “break with reality,” and is a symptom of a variety of mental illnesses. It is oftentimes the most visible of the “crazy” out there, and the most stigmatized. Some people believe that people with disorders that may have psychotic symptoms should be legally bound to medicate because they are dangers to society.

I’m going to say something that may upset you here: Not all people who experience mental illness require medication. The way they experience life is up to them.

We do not demonize diabetes, bronchitis, migraines, or glaucoma and we should hold ourselves to the same standards when it comes to mental health.

3. It’s inaccurate

I have to admit something: I still call things crazy and correct myself sometimes. I’m changing my neural paths so it’s going to take some time, I’ve accepted this.

But I correct myself after using “the word” and am immediately able to think of another. I usually mean something like, “odd,” “bizarre,” or “extremely.” The thing is, these words are closer to the truth of what I’m saying than “crazy” anyway.

4. I deserve better

One of the most productive things I learned in therapy is that the truth is different from my propensity to be cruel to myself. The deep down truth is that I am a mentally ill person and the best place to advocate for myself is from within.

I deserve a life that I’m engaged in, without prejudice, that is accurate, and understanding.

Yes, it’s “just a word,” but our life is made up of them.