Mental Health has long been an issue in this country. It is quite common to see a therapist or a “shrink”, but it is just as common to not tell anybody about it, for fear of sounding “crazy”. When a person breaks up with another person, it is quite common to dismiss all of their thoughts and actions with one simple word: “crazy”. That somehow relieves us of any responsibility in understanding whether or not their concerns were valid. I have become much more aware of these issues since my son was diagnosed with autism, a neurological disorder.
He sees a psychiatrist, for medication, but also to talk about his relationships with adults in his life and the kids he considers friends. I saw a therapist briefly before and right after the divorce. I think it’s as important not to neglect our brain, as it is our teeth, and the rest of our body.
And yet, I still have a tendency to resort to this “crazy” label when I can’t understand someone’s behavior.
Case in point: our neighbor. She’s an odd bird. She’s in her 50s, wears pajamas all day, and has a boxer (dog) who, as far as I can tell, only gets out one time a day, when she takes her on a walk at 7AM. One day a few summers ago, The Boy was playing outside, and this neighbor walked into my house to find out if I was “OK”… She saw The Boy playing outside by himself and thought “something was wrong”. I was in the basement watching TV, and she was at the top of my stairs explaining this. She then requested that I “come out”, show myself, so she could make sure I was OK.
This morning, I was awoken at about 7:30AM by her TV. It was so loud, that I could hear every word, and follow the program while still lying in my own bed. There was no way to drown it out, so I threw on some clothes, realizing as I walked through my house, away from hers, I could still hear the TV! I had to ring the doorbell (which she couldn’t hear, and she chastised the dog at first for barking at nothing), and ask her to turn it down, which she did.
I shook my head as I walked back to my house, thinking one word: “Crazy”.
But even as the word popped into my head, I thought, “Wow, that’s wrong. I am the one with the problem.” I was dismissing her with this label (albeit in my head) all along. This is the very thing I fear for my son as he grows to adulthood.
One of my favorite quotes is: “It’s OK not to know the answer, but it’s not OK to stay that way.” (not sure of the attribution – if you know, let me know!). In other words, it’s OK to be ignorant, but not to keep being ignorant. I was being ignorant, and thankfully I recognized it. I think this type of realization is how we grow and learn as humans, as long as our actions, behaviors and thoughts change from the experience. I know mine will.
How about you? What do you think about calling someone “crazy”?