The other morning a friend messaged me worried she was going crazy, she and her family had just moved across the country for her husband to begin his residency which left her home alone with multiple kids, one of them a small baby.

“I keep thinking maybe he’s cheating on me. I’m paranoid. I want to go through his phone and his email and I’m just sure something is wrong and it makes me cry and act completely irrational.”

“Yep. That was law school for me.”

“Wait, so this is…normal?”

“For me it was.”

Poor girl was convinced she was the only one who had ever thought her husband was doing something besides what he said he was doing (a fairly common occurrence, especially during graduate school or medical residencies.)

The good news is most graduate students and medical residents really are so insanely busy they barely even have time to sleep, let alone have an affair.

Here’s what I realized at the end of our conversation: everyone needs to be able to voice their crazy without judgement, or it will in fact drive them crazy.

For a long time I never told Cody the truth about the things that were going through my brain, whether it about him having an affair during law school, the dark thoughts during pregnancy and postpartum, or visualizations of self harm during an especially rough patch of depression. Without being able to voice the thoughts in my brain, they slowly ate away at my sanity until I felt as though I truly was going crazy.

Writing things out has helped me the most, no matter what I’m going through, I know I’m not the only one feeling a particular way — and the comfort that can be found in “Yeah? Me too.” is better than any amount of therapy or medication.

Here’s the tricky part, finding people who will listen to your crazy without judging.

being roommates brought us closer.

We’ve probably all lost a friend or two after telling them some deep, intimate truth about ourselves.

It hurts to tell someone you think you can trust something personal and have them react in a judgmental or condescending way. What’s worse is when they take your insecurity and use it against you, or spread it around as gossip.

It’s happened to all of us, and it sucks.

While there are people out there who lay all their crazy out on the table for attention and self-satisfaction, most people just need to put their thoughts into words and have their words be heard by someone else. They’re not expecting you to fix it, they just want you to listen.

Cody and I are to a point where I can tell him anything that goes through my brain and he just listens, no matter how crazy. He doesn’t try to fix it, he doesn’t try to commit me to a hospital and he doesn’t think any less of me. He understands that part of recovery for me is talking about all the terrible things my brain tells me.

The other night I ran my finger along a vein and told him, “This is the one I’ve thought about cutting the most.” It doesn’t mean I was going to do it, or that I’m doomed to become a cutter — it was just a thought that had been disturbing me and by speaking it out loud it lost its power.

My brain is full of words, full of thoughts, and overflowing with ideas — as long as I can keep them streaming out steadily, either through writing or speaking, things stay pretty steady up there. It’s when things get clogged that problems begin. So many words and thoughts build up that they begin to choke out my ability to handle day-to-day tasks.

Had I not told Cody about that vein it would have clouded and blocked the other thoughts lingering behind it — and it would have magnified until I shut down.

There is such a stereotype around self-harm. That those who do it, or even talk about it, are emo loners dressed in black, desperate for attention — which is probably why a lot of people simply don’t talk about it. But therein lies the problem, let’s say from the outside you’re a 30-year-old stay-at-home mom with two little kids and a fondness for Diet Coke. You go to playgroups, you do service work, you like watching reality TV. But you also have un-managed or undiagnosed depression, either because you don’t believe depression is a real disease or you have been shamed into believing depression is not real. One terrible night you think about harming yourself. Maybe you think about driving into oncoming traffic or taking every pill in the medicine cabinet and chasing it with a bottle of whiskey.  Let’s say you don’t do it for whatever reason, the thought is there and it will continue to tap at you, eat at you, and bother you until you say something (or do something) about it.

You finally decide to talk to your husband about it and he loses his mind, convinced you are an unfit mother and he verbally berates you for even thinking about being so selfish. You cry and cry wondering what is wrong with you as you sink into a deeper depression.

You talk to a trusted friend about it, she says you must be crazy. She has no idea how to handle you, you’re clearly too messed up to be friends anymore and she stops calling. Later you find out she’s told everyone at church about how insane you are.

Now let’s say you divulge the same thoughts to your husband, but this time he is understanding. He takes you in his arms and says “I had no idea you were feeling this way, that must be terrifying. What can I do to help?”

You talk to another trusted friend, she says “Oh, honey, if you only knew the amount of times I’ve thought about driving into the cement divider on the freeway. But I haven’t yet, and neither have you — so that’s something. Let me take your kids for the rest of the day so you can take a nap, you must be exhausted.”

I have experienced both, and I can tell you I much prefer the second reactions.

I’ve never expected anyone to fix my depression, but I do expect compassion — even if someone doesn’t understand exactly what I’m going through.

I don’t know what it’s like to lose a child, have cancer or be homeless — but I do know not to be an insensitive butthole when someone voices their own struggles, especially when it is clear they only want to be heard. (Now, to be fair, we all know those people who turn every moment into ‘WOE IS ME’ and it is tiring. I move right past those people, I just don’t have the energy. I’m not talking about those people. I’m talking about the generally pleasant and optimistic people who are sometimes struck with pretty terrible situations and just need to be heard, even if it’s just in a Facebook update.)

Hopefully this helps someone, I felt like it needed to be written — either for someone struggling to understand the importance of being heard or someone who has a hard time just listening and is always trying to fix things.

I hope you have someone who listens to all your crazy thoughts and ideas. Being human is so much easier when you have one or two of those people around.

@lesbiandad

Comments

  1. I love this so much. I’m trying to learn to voice my crazy because I either hold it in or write it on my body. My therapist and I came to the realization that I get tattoos as “good scars” to counteract the “bad scars”.

  2. A'Driane Nieves says:

    YES. It really does make life more bearable. These are the best kinds of friends to have. Keeping the crazy in? (At least this kind) Doesn’t really serve any one. Best to let it out :) Great post ;)

  3. This is a really great post. I was just talking to a trusted friend tonight and admitting to some of my crazy…it is so good to let it out…and to have those people in your life you know you can trust with it.

  4. I love you … like woah. I am so blessed to have Nathan to share my crazy with, and you <3

  5. I love reading your posts because it’s like you see into my head and voice everything I would like to say but can’t because somewhere between thinking and speaking my words get lost. Thank you for letting me know I’m not the only one!

  6. “My brain is full of words, full of thoughts, and overflowing with ideas — as long as I can keep them streaming out steadily, either through writing or speaking, things stay pretty steady up there. It’s when things get clogged that problems begin. So many words and thoughts build up that they begin to choke out my ability to handle day-to-day tasks.”

    This? This right here is proof you are a mindreader. I still have a husband who wants to fix, who cannot contain the facial expressions when i say things that are “crazy”. He’s trying, God love him, he’s trying. Regardless, you are brilliant and beautiful!

  7. I teared up so much while reading this, because while reading your words and sharing your history, “Done that, done that, done that. Been there, sometimes still am there” was cycling through my head. And you’re right: this absolutely did need to be written. Everyone needs to be able to share their crazy thoughts and ideas and moments of Dark without fear of being dismissed.

    Thank you for your honesty. Your words are a gift, and so are you.

  8. This did need to be written and I applaud you doing it. I try to live by this – whether speaking my own honesty or fully accepting and loving another’s. You are helping many and I thank you for your courageous heart.

  9. Life is hard, but we have each other. Me too are the two most comforting words.

    Me too, girl. Me too.

  10. Thank you.

  11. Yes. This. Thank you. Ps. You are pretty amazing. xo

  12. “…it was just a thought that had been disturbing me and by speaking it out loud it lost its power.”

    I know exaclty what this feels like! After my 4th baby I had just put her down to sleep and was about to go have dinner with my family when a thought popped into my head, “Your family would be better off without. You should just leave.” Now, I had been through PPA and PPD three times by now so I knew what “intrusive thoughts” felt like. I knew this thought wasn’t true. But it still scared me. But I decided I was NOT going to give that thought any power and marched to the dining and told my husband right then and there about my silly thought. The thought TOTALLY lost it’s power once I said it out loud and sounded totally ridiculous that I just laughed! It felt so GOOD.

    Thank you for writing this, Casey. I just KNOW this is going to help someone!!

  13. Beautifully and powerfully written! I am the non-judgmental friend and always have been and yet, I still seek to find just one true friend I can trust to not be judgmental but listen and hug me with all their might when I need to be heard, crazy nonssense and all.

    Sending lots of love and healing your way…Always!!

  14. Yes, this! Thank you!

  15. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.

  16. I really hope you know what a blessing you are. Xoxo.

  17. I think that a lot of the time people assume that if you’re still functioning day to day, you don’t have an issue. You SEEM fine, so you probably are fine. After my little one died, my coping mechanism was to act as though nothing had even happened. I think I was in a state where I just couldn’t imagine that something like that could happen to me. I didn’t take even one day off work. Told people not to bother to visit me. After two months of that, I had gained 30lbs and had given up wearing make up, barely even combed my hair. It was only after I found myself taking dozens of painkillers a day and keeping random sharp implements by my bedside for what I saw as stress relief that I told someone what a terrible terrible time I was having. All alone. Speak out and let your loved ones carry some of your burden. Tell the ugly truth. We are too proficient at hiding all of our secrets and pain.

  18. Just moments ago I was telling my husband how I feel like I’m going through life with sunglasses on that fog out all the good things and make it hard for me to feel the joy I know is there, I just can’t see it. And saying it aloud has been a week long process of googling depression and suddenly journaling and trying to get out the agressive things I feel, which are all in response to the funk I’m in. I’ve thought about telling people how I really feel, but I feel almost guilt at weighing someone else down.with my burdens. Thanks for your post.

  19. “I’ve never expected anyone to fix my depression, but I do expect compassion — even if someone doesn’t understand exactly what I’m going through.”

    YES. THIS!

    I finally (thank you therapy and meds that work) have admitted to self harm. Being able to say “This is what I’m tempted to do” to my husband and know that he won’t judge or shame me for it doesn’t take away the desire to hurt myself but it does give me the power to not hurt myself that time.

  20. Wow. You really couldn’t have said it better. I even had to read an excerpt to my husband, about saying something out loud making the thought lose its power. And I, too, have lost many friends by opening up too much. For years, before I was married, I was consumed with these ugly thoughts. But my fear was they’d lock me up. I know because once my mom said that if I ever suggested I might want to harm myself, she’d lock me up. Painful to hear since my mom also suffers from depression and was once “locked up.” So I never talked about it. Not even to my therapist because hello, aren’t they legally obligated or something? To think of the years of anguish I went through, not being able to talk about the very darkest thoughts I had, to just struggle alone, and oh how wonderful it would have been if I could have just voiced them out loud. Sometimes, I would pray out loud in my car. Just to shout and scream at God, just to hear the words out loud. But it wasn’t the same.

  21. Thank you Casey. This was so needed. I’m so grateful that I found your space here. It’s helped me more times than I can count. Much love.

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