When I say there are contractual-like terms and judicial-like sentences to being ‘crazy’ I don’t mean the colloquial version, but instead the clinical. I also mean sentences in that most common way, as in the language itself. Of course, the psychiatric world would say there is no such thing as being crazy, only a diagnosis of a usually treatable illness.
And one is, of course, not diagnosed with mental illness either. No, they will say bipolar 1 or 2, generalized anxiety disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder.
I once was describing the sensation of not really being real or present, feeling like a doll who others move through the world. My therapist reminded me that both those feelings have names, and are two closely-linked concepts called derealization and depersonalization. I said I know. And I do know such words can help name what’s going on, help me remember there are others with PTSD who sometimes feel these too.
Yet I distrust words that end in -ization because I am a writer and therefore I care about language. These words don’t work for me because they are jargon, and like all jargon they don’t evoke what the feeling of those words is. They are only a quick shorthand for those already in the know.
As far as sentences I’m talking about the consequences, the medication, the money devoted to medication, the fact that others may see as foolish, as essential, and as the only thing keeping me in the world. As if medication can’t simply fail, by which I mean cease working, as if it must be a new god along with stress relief that we must kneel to. We ignore root causes at our peril. Because insurance companies must be billed for most, including for me, to receive care the focus is on the individual’s disorder. This leads to a focus on the individual’s deficits rather than those root causes which are often more cultural, societal, familial, etc.
I actually try not to read too much about mental health except for memoirs of personal experience, because the attitudes, the simplicities, the obsessions with treatment compliance, and the focus on psychiatry alone all get me down. The things I know: sleep matters, having a brilliant psychiatrist who will ask me what I think we should do after informing me what he knows from published peer-reviewed studies, seeing a therapist who gets that I need her, and hate that I need her, the habit of taking those pills the brilliant psychiatrist prescribes all add up to enough health to give me the privilege of being in the world.