“Here’s the thing,” Beth said. “Before I was crazy-” and by this we know she means before she KNEW she was crazy, because we’ve all known for a long time. She was the last to clue in. “-I was never uncertain on a day to day basis of my sanity.”
“Well, why would you be?”
“Exactly!” Beth is exuberant when she tells her stories, with lots of hand movements and interesting facial expressions. “Before I was crazy, I could have a really shitty day at work and say, ‘You know what? I had a really shitty day today,’ and take that for what it was, and just move on.”
“Now I have this constant inner interrogation going on asking me if I’m getting depressed again, or if I’m getting paranoid because I think my coworker hates me or-”
“Your coworker really does hate you. She’s a total waste of flesh.”
“I know! But there’s a part of my brain that is constantly unsure of it now. It’s like now that the seal has been broken on the crazy, I can’t compartmentalize it anymore. It’s like eating Cheerios in space.”
I laugh at the analogy. It’s actually pretty accurate.
I’ve been an official resident of Crazy Town for a lot longer than some of my other friends. They are new to it, and are unfamiliar with the various inane rules and regulations of our fine precinct. Rule number one has always been, “Once you become a citizen of Crazy Town, you will no longer be 100% certain when you are in city limits.”
An unfair rule, and one day I intend to bring it before city council, but you wanna talk about some loons . . .
“So how am I supposed to know when I’m having a bad day, and when I’m getting depressed again? Or if I’m being irrational when someone pisses me off?”
And I don’t know the answer. Not really. I have safeguards set up. I have a few people I can ask, a mental checklist I can go through (would I have been this angry if this happened yesterday? would I look at someone strangely if they chose to react in this manner? would I be worried if my best friend said that? You get the idea) but none of it can really leave me with that absolute certainty that I would have had about my actions before I knew they could be compromised by my own brain.
It’s one of the double edged extras about having a mental illness. It is certainly a hassle to have to check and recheck my behavior to determine if it is within optimal levels, but there is a benefit of self-reflection that I wish were more encouraged in the “sane” crowd. It leads me to feel that, even though I there are parts of myself I must question, I know myself, my limits, and my potential in a positive way.