Brain Woozels

Using the word “crazy” as a pejorative needs to be eliminated from the English language.

1-in-5 of the American population experience mental illness. (That’s 20% of the population, or 65,000,000 million people for those who would like the math.) 1-in-25 (or, 10,000,00) live with a serious mental illness such as bipolar disorder, PTSD, major depression, or schizophrenia.

I am the one in the 25. I live with C-PTSD, major depression, social and generalized anxiety disorders. I am being tested for bipolar disorder. You would never know this upon first meeting me, but I am very open about it, and if you know me more than a few hours I will undoubtedly reveal this in conversation. I am what is called “high functioning mentally ill.” That means that I can perform the tasks of every day life, and even excel in areas like academics and job performance, without being regularly impeded by my diagnosis. Though, technically and legally, I am disabled.

I am not “crazy.” Very few people who live with mental illness are what pop culture defines as crazy: Unbalanced, unaware of their surroundings, irrational, violent, off their meds, etc.

And, it really pisses me off when people use mental health as a way to try to jab at someone. It’s demeaning and dehumanizing and just mean.

Having brain woozles (or weasels, as most people refer to them, but I love Winnie the Pooh) can be a disability, but for many people it is not.

I was 13 the first time I was taken to therapy. I was diagnosed with mild depression at that point, but back in the 80s the solution for children with depression was not drugs, it was talk therapy.

When I was 21 I was put on Prozac. I was on that drug for a couple of years, and felt better, and the doctor thought I had “situational depression” so he weaned me off of it.

At 29 I began experiencing anxiety and more depression. I went to a doctor in San Francisco who diagnosed me with generalized anxiety disorder and situational depression. They again put me on Prozac and gave me a small dose of Xanax to help with my insomnia caused by the GAD.

All during this time, I was living my life as a normal, functioning adult – I held down jobs, I paid rent, I went to school. And, I excelled and succeeded at life. (In general.)

I was not a raving lunatic, I did not march on the corner with a sign that says “The End is Neigh.” I did not wear a tinfoil hat or hoard or act OCD or be the stereotypical pop culture representation of crazy. Maybe I was a little cleaner and more well organized than most people, but those are hardly symptoms of “crazy.”

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