Sometimes I think I’m crazy.
Right now I’m sitting in a coffee shop, with my earbuds and my latte, and I feel quite normal. Today I had the day off work. I slept in, I scrambled eggs, I stopped by a friend’s house, and now I’m here—drinking my latte and feeling normal.
But some days, I think I’m crazy.
Some days I do things that are so crazy I don’t want to tell you about them. Because I’m embarrassed. Because I’m concerned you will think less of me. Because I’m afraid that you will label me with my worst fear—that I’m crazy.
And now you are curious. “What is it that she does?” “Is she actually crazy?” Because we all like a controversy. We all strain our necks to see the wreckage of the crash. We all live in hope that someone else’s crazy is worse than our own.
People don’t like to talk about these things. Oh, we are curious alright. We are very comfortable reading about it on Facebook, watching it on Netflix, and casually glancing at the tabloids while we stand in line at the grocery store. But we don’t really like people to know that we are curious; we don’t like the discomfort of addressing scandal while others watch how we react—especially when the scandal to address is our own.
And so naturally we let the media talk about chaos. Because that’s more comfortable.
Until it isn’t.
Until one day, you experience chaos of your own.
Until one day, you think you might be crazy.
And then you feel alone.
When I first experienced my own chaos, I was too shocked, too afraid, and too embarrassed to share with even my closest support system. My family didn’t have a fluent vocabulary with which to discuss mental health, which is ironic because they seem to pride themselves on being transparent about their issues. I assumed I was the only one that experienced this chaos, this crazy.
And then one day—after slipping into an unrecognizable version of myself—I said something. And the floodgates of family mental health issues poured out. I learned of anxiety, depression, medication and abuse of all sorts.
And I realized I’m not alone.
That moment of transparent conversation with someone in my support system changed my progression. It catapulted me down a road of self-learning and growth.
Since then, I’ve discovered that my crazy starts with anxiety (I wrote about it here). If I’m not careful, that leads to depression, and in these darkest moments, I sometimes think I can’t muster the energy for even one more breath (I wrote about that here).
This self-awareness was not natural for me. It’s not like one morning, in between making my favorite egg sandwich and drinking my coffee, I suddenly realized, “Oh, I’m not mentally healthy.” No. That’s not how it happened. Because most moments I feel normal. Especially while drinking coffee.
Self-awareness for me is not a revelation—one moment treading through the deepest dark and then suddenly flipping the switch to turn on the brightest light, exposing the entirety of my world—but rather, it is a process—a painfully slow upward push on the dimming switch, a continuum of grey and disorientation.
My path to self-awareness endured multiple chaotic moments—moments that in hindsight I couldn’t recognize myself in. Who was that person? Surely I am not capable of that. That’s some other crazy person. I even wrote a poem once to this “other person” telling her to take her life back because I couldn’t survive in it.
My path to self-awareness involved hours and hours and hours of counseling. Counseling is effective. Counseling is expensive. Sometimes I wonder what I could have done with all that money and all those hours if I hadn’t been crazy.
There I go again. Labeling me crazy.
My path to self-awareness necessitated vulnerable conversations, most often with the people that are most difficult to be vulnerable with. Just yesterday I shared my mental health story with a coworker. I confided more in her than I have in my dad.
And if I’m being fully honest, my path to self-awareness is one that I still walk. It is a path I will continue to trod very likely for the rest of my life.
I would like to think that by now I have it all figured out—childhood issues wrapped in a neat little package with a bow that makes them tolerable despite the lack of attractiveness when you open them up.
But I don’t have it all figured out. I still have chaotic moments. I’m still in counseling. I’m still engaging in vulnerable conversations.
And sometimes, I still think I’m crazy.
But the difference is, now I know that I’m not alone.
Slowly but surely, I engage in conversations with my support system. I apologize to the relationships that I harm in my chaos. I confront my fear of rejection, and invite new relationships to walk with me on the path toward mental health.
And amazingly, people join. Some, at least.
And maybe most amazingly, God joins. As I engage with Him, apologize to Him, confront my fear of rejection with Him, and invite Him into my journey, I see that He is here with me. Not when it’s convenient or comfortable or when I meet conditions, but always.
No, He doesn’t fix my crazy. And my word, some days I desperately wish He would.
But He promises to walk with me in it. And that comforts me.
Over 3,000 years ago, another believer poetically depicted God’s faithful presence in his journey:
“If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.”
Just like this writer 3,000 years ago, I am not alone.
The reality is that I never was.
And that’s why I share my story with you. Because you also, are not alone.
This post reflects the views of the author, and is intended to start a conversation. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
Or, if you’d like to hear some overall thoughts on mental health from Christians at THRED, you can find those over here.