A friend mentioned saneism, a word I don’t usually use because sane and insane don’t make a lot of sense to me. But I like the naming of the idea of saneism. Yes, I see it–discrimination, hate, lack of respect, and over-simplifying of people such as myself all the time.
The conventional belief is: Crazy people are over in this camp–a small group of yellers, over-criers, conflicty, accusatory, inappropriately emotional with huge moods, voice hearing maybe, vision seeing, delusion-believing.
Just a whole lot of stress and pain, possibly manipulative and even violent–threatening, self-harming, and doing weird stuff that doesn’t make sense. Crazy people are often homeless, living in group homes, maybe addicts, needing meds, going off meds…
The crazy are very different, and not to be considered relevant people. Just messed up bad mistakes. No need to consider this camp–irrelevant annoyances or dangers who don’t do anything good for society, just suck resources.
Then there’s the non-crazy people over in the regular world. Non-crazy people can work paying jobs to good result, have cars that don’t break down all the time and that they don’t live in, for sure. Non-crazy people live in houses and might have families including children who are safe and healthy. They wear clothes that are clean and possibly new and fashionable. They have stylish hair and eat nutritious foods.
Non-crazy people don’t have struggles with clinics and don’t get blamed for being damaged. They’re undamaged. Responsible, trustworthy, with regular moods, needs, and dreams. The status quo works for them. They are real people. They should be considered–they matter. In fact, they make the world go round.
Well, all that’s fake. Sure, most people might not hear as many voices as I do. And conventional jobs are better for some people than others–that’s true. But it’s not us vs them.
Anyone can have a strong feeling. Anyone can hallucinate given enough nights of sleep deprivation and energy shots, or even illness and the wrong antibiotic. Someone’s close relative dies, grief spirals– add in extra stress about housing, or a mistake in drug usage?
Suddenly someone previously considered normal is now living with multiple mental health diagnoses, on powerful mind-altering medications, and committed to a psych ward. How did that happen? It can be fast, and once you’re in the system, it can be so hard to get out.
Oh, and there’s a middle camp also. The people with anxiety and depression who struggle a lot, might take prozac or other mental health meds. They are not considered “severely, chronically mentally ill” like me, but they’re somewhere in the middle. They might work a regular job, but they could have some suicide attempts in their past. Struggling to be happy and functional, they’re having a hard time but can manage to appear ok.
Sometimes the middle camp could be considered the good crazy people. A news story about mental health funding might ignore the schizophrenia and bipolar people like me and focus on the easier to love middle camp. A spectacle public interest thing might focus on people with multiple personalities or dissociative disorder, but the depression and anxiety people are mostly ok.
what crazy people are like
Crazy people are my favorite. Yeah, it’s a lot of work, to manage whatever we have going on. But it’s an honor for me, to be called crazy. I see what others don’t, and I talk about what others won’t admit. I feel all day–I notice, super sensitive and real. Why not be crazy, in a world set up for making money, not the well-being of children, elders, adults, other animals, Mother Earth?
I’m one of the happiest people I know. I usually feel my feelings at a 6 through 10 out of 10, where most people might feel their feelings at a 2 through 5? Hearing voices can be challenging. The bipolar mood swings are a trip, to be sure. Delusions and paranoia are derailing and can range from uncomfortable to sheer terror.
It’s a lot of work, to care for myself. But I’ve worked hard to learn wellness skills. I have radical mental health in my life, which is so helpful to my stability. Living with a kind spouse who loves me unconditionally and who does disabled inter-dependence with me is everything.
None of that happened by accident. I know how to love, and I work hard to make a life I enjoy.
Self-knowledge is a powerful skill. With intention, I don’t have a paying job, didn’t have kids and choose not to have pets, don’t drive or watch movies or tv. There are many regular things I don’t do.
But then there are amazing things that I do, like make beautiful art, make zines, blog, ecstatic dance, ride trike, hold a lot in my head at once. I help run a radical mental health collective, live in community, have a hundred penpals, and yeah my choices are a little different. But my life is great. Who says crazy people aren’t as good? Different can be wonderful.
Saneism is saying crazy people don’t matter, are inferior, don’t count. But we do! All people matter and deserve respect. You don’t have to be my friend or partner or like me at all, but please give me respect and see my needs as valid. I am 100% valid and belong at the table of life.
Lots of crazy people do helpful things. Here are a few off hand I can think of.
- make amazing art
- help run a radical mental health collective
- see things others can’t
- peer support
- garden, cook, make things
- care for others
- do science
- make music
- ritual, religious visioning, talk to God
Crazy people can do many things, given support, the time off we need, breaks, and freedom to find our own ways. But the above list is some crazy specialties. Personally, I keep my stress as low as possible–that’s important for my well-being.
Non-crazy people are not superior to crazy people. We all deserve respect and to have our unique strengths recognized. I like my fragilities and challenges recognized also. Many people assume things about me based on my diagnoses or status as a crazy person. But I might surprise you, if you care to pay attention.
Non-crazy people might seem more versatile. Crazy people might seem more specialized toward creative vibrancy. Maybe you think I’m erratic or too variable. Well, saneism means not seeing clearly the skills and strengths I have. I prefer surprising difference over boring predictability.
Non-craziness might seem easier or what you’re familiar with. But the world doesn’t need business as usual. Visionaries, innovators, people who see things in new ways and find creative solutions–crazy people can be amazing. Please stop saneism and open your heart to us.