A cast iron shroud encircles the way we’re meant to talk about depression. Words like ‘mad’, ‘crazy’ and ‘insane’ always garner such controversy in relation to mental illness because, obviously, this kind of sickness shouldn’t be equated with a loss of sanity. Depression isn’t tantamount to madness.
I vividly recall the uncomfortable silence and look of horror on a friend’s face after she once uttered the words ‘are you mental?!’, before realising that actually, maybe I was, a little bit. She’d been responding to something completely benign – like turning down free cheese – and around anyone else it would have been funny, but thanks to my illness things got awkward. It wasn’t the first or last time someone was overly sensitive and careful with the language used in my presence.
But is it so terrible? I quite frequently feel like I’m on the edge of my sanity, a little crazy, sometimes completely crackers, in fact. When my world becomes surreal and odd thoughts begin to circumnavigate my mind the best word I could use to sum up how I’m feeling would be ‘mad’. Mental comes a close second.
For me it’s just a very loose interpretation of a word – you can use basic logic to crush any lingering doubts concerning the state of your sanity. Everyone knows that a ‘mad’ person doesn’t actually know that they’re ‘mad’. This is a formula I have frequently used to remind myself I haven’t lost my mind when a panic attack has left me feeling as if I’m having a stroke and stepping into an unreal abyss at the same time.
I know that I’m technically sane. But when the excess adrenaline coursing through my veins leaves me feeling like I’m barely hanging onto the most tattered threads of reality, I really don’t mind being referred to as bonkers, nuts or round the bend, in fact I embrace it. At the moment they’re words I’d happily use to describe my behaviour on a daily basis – in everything from having an irrational argument with a family member to putting my handbag in the fridge.
If leaving your door keys in with the sprouts isn’t the work of a lunatic, I don’t know what is.