The Dos and Don'ts of Handling Your Crazy

The Dos and Don’ts of Handling Your Crazy

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This post was originally published on July 16, 2015.

An article in the Huffington Post claims to know when you should be ashamed of your crazy. There is an elaborate chart, presented like a maze, one decision following another, until you get to the bottom. The result, of course, is that you should never be ashamed of having a mental illness. I completely agree, but I also agree that it can be advantageous to manage your crazy, when possible of course.

Here is a list of crazy DOs and DON’Ts from someone who comes from a family of suicides and murderers—someone who’s been on Trazodone for bipolar disorder, Cymbalta and Prozac for depression and finally Adderall for non-hyperactive ADD.

DON’T spill everything the first time you meet someone.

It’s part of the craft of storytelling. Pick one emotionally charged point so the new person has a reasonable chance of figuring out how to react. Otherwise it can be too much. You don’t want to fry someone’s synapses. Or maybe you DO. They say violence on TV is desensitizing, so maybe the more you share, the less of a big deal it’ll end up being? Let’s try it: My mother, aunt, uncle and cousin all killed themselves. I have another uncle who murdered his wife and son. See what I mean? I usually hold some of that back. Now you need a minute, because what the fuck. But if you can’t pay attention to the rest of this article, than we can safely assume that this is a don’t.

DO seek out a forgiving work environment.

The United Kingdom’s Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine claims that hiding your crazy at work can stress you out. This is a definite bonus at the After Party office. It’s safe to say that many of our conversations are about our dysfunctions. It’s like this: How are you? Depressed, sex addicted, suicidal, completely manic. So, no coffee?

DON’T blow your wad at brunch with your new boyfriend’s parents.

Unless you are an engineer or a doctor or on the Olympic swim team, they don’t want him to marry you anyway. Brunch is for happiness—that’s why there’s French toast. The only thing you should be pulling out at brunch is the exultant ultrasound after you’re already married and have been trying to get pregnant for years.

DON’T be a crazy topper.

This happens a lot in the recovery community. Like, I see your bipolar and raise you some schizophrenia.

DON’T talk about it while your driving.

Have an urge to pull a Christopher Walken in Annie Hall but with the added bonus of doing it behind the wheel? You know how sometimes you imagine accelerating through the concrete wall of an onramp? How your car would fly? Not everyone does that. Stop.

DON’T talk about it when you’re camping, because it’s scary to be in the woods with crazy people.

If people start dying, either “they” are going to blame you, or find out about you and chase you down. (See every 80s horror movie, like, ever.)

DON’T use your crazy as a weapon.

And I don’t mean like in the Mike Myers way above. Don’t use it to make people stay. Or to make them go. Don’t hold it back because you’re afraid it will make them leave. By the time I told my ex-husband everything, we were already on our way to divorce and what he said was, “I wish you had told me sooner. It might have helped.” The thing is, I didn’t tell him because I was afraid he would leave and by the time I did tell him, I was using it as a tool to make him stay.

DON’T self medicate.

Look, street drugs can be fun. Even when you’re puking all over a bunch of bears and leather dudes from the top of a Ferris wheel at a gay rave in Anaheim. I get it. Before that, you were screaming along to a Pat Benetar remix of “We Belong,” eyes squeezed shut and completely alone on the dance floor and for a moment—just a sliver—you had never belonged anywhere so much in your life. Obviously that feeling didn’t last. If you ask me, suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the US because over 30 percent of people are afraid to get help for their crazy.

DO move to California, where it’s weird not to be slapping someone in the face with your freak flag.

In California, we will bring our emotional support turtle into Spago and we dare you to fuck with us. Not that Spago is cool anymore; I just wanted you to know where I was coming from. We are really bringing our emotional support animals to G’jelina and no one even cares.

If you do happen to bust out your crazy at a less than opportune moment, acknowledge that shit.

Ask, “Was that weird? Was it inappropriate? My bad.” Don’t try to pretend it didn’t happen and hope it goes away. It’s like owning up to a fart. I can never hide one of my farts. They make me too hysterical. I love farts. And when you start talking about them, chances are you find out that other people are cool with farts too. Everyone farts. The shit is what makes us human. Own it.

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Amanda Fletcher is a writer and editor in LA who is soberly trying to finish a book about drunkenly jumping out of a boat and breaking her neck in three places.