Maddy Stutz

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Does anyone else with a mental illness find it offensive when other people use "crazy" or "insane" as an adjective?

This never bothered me before I got diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, but since then I guess I've been a little more sensitive to this. On New Year's, this guy (who doesn't know I have bipolar) said I was acting "crazy". I know he wasn't saying it because he was seriously concerned about my mental state, but he was using it as an adjective to describe my sillyness and spontaneity that often overcomes me when I'm out with friends. I wasn't exhibiting any signs of my mental illness, but if offended me that he called me "crazy". I wanted to be like "as a matter of fact, YES!" Since then I've been noticing that people use "crazy" and "insane" all the time to describe every day stuff that might just be a little out of the ordinary. I've been talking to some people on my blog about this too, and some say they find it offensive, and some don't. We all recognize that calling something "gay" is offensive, should calling something "crazy" or "insane" also be considered objectionable language? What do you guys think?

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    Jan 29 2014: Maddy, As a old guy ... this politically correct crap drives me bonkers. If a person wants to start a fight or be offended it really makes no difference what you say ... there will be a fight or offended person.

    In the 1940 / 50 we had a thing called common courtesy. Sure there were bad names you could call people and some of the terms we used that were common then are unacceptable today.

    If someone was bungy jumping and the guy next to you said thats crazy ... did he mean insane or that he would never do that. I skydive. People are always calling me stupid, crazy, nuts, and those are the nice things.

    So here is my reply: No one can make you feel bad without your permission.

    If someone in your presence says ... this is Maddy ... she is Bipolar ... you would not want to date a crazy person would you ... that is a insult. If they say .. this is Maddy she is a real nut ... You should get to know her. That is not a slam.

    There are people I know who say "Good morning" and I am offended ... I do not like them. There are other who cuss and call me names that I laugh my head off ... I like them.

    So in the end it is really your issue even more than theirs ... rude, impolite, etc ,,, you bet. But do not let someone else take charge of your emotions or your life.

    Next time you see a skydiver falling out of the sky .... say I bet that is my crazy friend ... Bob.
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    Feb 5 2014: But you're not crazy or insane you have bipolar. Bipolar is a result of having a brain that behaves slightly differently to the average brain. There are hundreds of other behavior patterns that result from a slightly different to average brain, like having an idetic memory, or being musically talented. Personally I'm musically talented and bipolar but I'm certainly noy crazy or insane so those words dont bother me.
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    Feb 5 2014: Hi Maddy, and welcome to TED conversations:>)

    You said it my dear, in your profile...."The hardest part about being diagnosed with a mental illness is removing the stigma from yourself."

    Actually, the most challenging part of changing or removing any thought or feeling (stigma) is removing it from our "self".

    Although I have never been diagnosed with a mental illness, I did sustain a near fatal brain injury years ago, after which my family and I were told I would never function "normally" again. After a craniotomy, being kept alive on life support systems, then finally regaining consciousness, the news was given to me that because of the severity of the injury, I probably would not ever function "normally" again. My first thought and response was....."well good"....."let's see where this adventure takes me"!

    Most of my life, way before the injury, I was often told I was "crazy", or "living in a fantasy world", or "not facing reality", because I believe in the interconnections of people....because I believe in respect, honesty, joy, humor, compassion and unconditional love. Right here on TED a couple people label me "passive aggressive" because I refuse to get into their disrespectful, unproductive arguments. I continue to say "thank you" to whoever tries to put these kinds of labels on me.

    I genuinely feel that I do not want to be considered "normal" in a world where people accept disrespect, dishonesty, lack of compassion, empathy, and lack of unconditional love.

    You hang in there Maddy, and keep reminding yourself of what you insightfully wrote..The hardest part about being labeled, is removing the stigma from yourself.

    Once you remove the stigma from yourself, and do not accept it from others, NOONE can put that stigma on you....whatever they say has no meaning, if we do not accept it. One important element for me is that I love exploring and evaluating the life adventure to learn, grow and evolve with the experiences. Know thyself Maddy:>)
    • Feb 21 2014: Colleen I think your words above are very wise. What we see in others is often a reflection of how we view ourselves and the world we live in.
      I hope never to be normal if being normal is about putting a glass ceiling on what we can become and confining ourselves to other peoples understanding of the world. We are all individuals and all we need to do to be free from any form of torment is connect with our higher selves and realize who we are.
      people can only make us feel offended if we give then the permission to do so. If being crazy means you are at one with yourself, then bring it on. I also believe in respect, honesty, joy, humor, compassion and unconditional love and believe we are all connected through our higher consciences.
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        Feb 22 2014: Thank you Mint Thinny, and I appreciate your wise words as well:>)

        I agree with your comment about has to start in our "self". I do not believe we can give something away that we do not have in our self.
  • Feb 18 2014: Mental Illnesses are usually associated with high intellect. Because you think differently than most people, you see the world differently than most people. Sometimes you even see what most people can't see in the world and that pushes you to do something about it, like creating. All known Geniuses to mankind had a few "mental illnesses". So when people refer to me as crazy sometimes, I laugh at their simplicity of thought and shrug it off.

    Also, I find that when people call you insane for some random thing that you do, do something really crazy to them and they will forever respect you.
  • Feb 7 2014: Even with my own mental health issues, I still use the words "crazy" and "insane". Never seriously, but talking about topics in jest. I laugh when someone does the same.

    With the "exciting", as I will call it for lack of a better word, life I've had, I've learned that many people just do not understand where they have not been. Some will display empathy even when they cannot comprehend. Some will try to provide simple solutions to complex issues that they don't understand. Some understand too well and will match what they see.

    In the end, I try to remember that every one in life has their own struggles and issues. Everyone has a label. When someone says something that is wrong or offensive, I just take it as a measure of unknowing, rather than a judgment on who they are or how they perceive me. Sometimes, there is a reason to educate them. Sometimes, it is better left alone. In a way, I am grateful when someone does not understand, because in reality, would I want my struggles for someone else?
  • Feb 6 2014: My advice is to learn to roll with the punches, so to speak. Getting offended solves nothing, and may well actively harm you when the subject of your irritation is a figure of speech so common. How justified your anger is has nothing do with it, its simply something you have to learn to live with.

    And yes, I know that this mature approach is no fun at all, and is about as emotionally satisfying as watching paint dry. The long term repercussions of the more fun approach however (snapping at people), make it ill advised.

    It might help to understand that "crazy" is anything that deviates from social norms, whose exact definition varies from person to person. Therefore, "sane" describes an ideal situation that doesn't actually exist. Sort of how one-size-fits-all ends up being one size that doesn't fit any one person particularly well.
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    Feb 4 2014: In modern vernacular vocabulary the words "crazy" and "insane" are almost never applied to mental illness. It sounds like in this situation the guy may have intended to offer a compliment? Among young people out and about, spontaneity and originality are typically considered as positive, aren't they?

    If instead someone were throwing a tantrum and another called him crazy or insane, that was probably meant as negative.

    If you find these terms offensive, you might tell people that you don't like them. I don't personally think of the use of these words as making light of mental illness, and I don't think most of your peers would associate these words with mental illness- and particularly not depressive disorders.

    MANY of us without a health challenge are called these things in a loving way. Most people, I think, love to see themselves as unique, and others appreciate people who stand out to them as unique, vivacious, playful, and interestingly different rather than boringly indistinguishable from others.

    I think the person meant to comment on your spontaneity and originality in a positive way.
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    Feb 4 2014: Trapped in our society of madness I think it is only a NORMAL reaction to be upset, depressed, and sometimes even aggressively defensive. No one among us, humans, is really normal.

    Our psychological/mental problems are problems of our own Society that we create. Our postmodern "lifestyle" is brewing on loud ignorance, soundbites of info, and constant competitions of all sorts. Isolated from nature we emotionally starving "consuming" tons of artificial entertainment that "works" for our depressed minds as fast-food for our stomach. Isolated from nature We deprive ourselves of sound interactions with it, therefore, having very vague awareness about where we are, what we are doing and who we are.
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    Feb 3 2014: I think quiet ways of building emotional control and strength existed for thousands of years. I think these ways were rarely practiced in the United States, but recently gained popularity.
    Many factors of objectionable language besides the word being said, including body language and distance between people.
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    Jan 30 2014: well, I'm curious, do you yourself ever use the words "crazy" or "insane" in this light, trivial way you find objectionable when others do it? Or before your diagnosis did you?
  • Jan 29 2014: As one of the long line of my family that "suffers" from mental illness in one form or another I have to say it doesn't really offend me too much. Maybe its my tendency to lean towards beinga misanthrope, but I don't set a very high value of the opinions of people that I don't feel put much thought into their words or actions. Don't let them get to you. Don't give them the power over your feelings and/or mood.
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    Jan 29 2014: Welcome to TED Maddy. I'm bipolar as well. And I've learned that even the people close to me have no empathy for mental illness, much less the general public. But it's not worth crippling my piece of mind over, I try to educate gently and move on.

    I will use words like crazy, bonkers, etc. to refer to ideas, but never to describe people.