I’m too young to write a memoir. Twenty-five years is little time, although the last five years have been an eternity of hypomania and depression and anxiety, of undiagnosed “crazy in the blood,” as Sarah Griffith Lund would refer to it. An eternity in a lifetime of low serotonin, of social hell, of topsy-turvy existence. Yet not of memoir-material hell: no alcoholism, no abuse, no horrors beyond horror. Just the horror of living in this world that everyone at some point experiences, unless intentionally blind and naïve and ignorant.
In her memoir Blessed are the Crazy, Sarah Griffith Lund refers to being mentally ill as crazy:
1) a slang word that describes a person with a brain disease
2) a description of a situation that is out of control
And she refers hereditary mental illness as “crazy in the blood”:
cra*zy (krazee) in the blood (blud)
1) a phrase that describes the genetic predisposition to suffering from a brain disease
2) the reason why some families are more dysfunctional than others
The specific crazy she refers to is bipolar:
bi*po*lar (bi poler)
1) a brain disease that causes mood swings from the lows of depression to the highs of mania, sometimes referred to as “manic depression”
2) a term that describes having two poles that are extremes
Frankly, I don’t like being called crazy. Although, I appreciated her boldness in word choice al principio. I’m not sure what changed, but it became irritable to me that she used such a term. Perhaps it is because I am bipolar—of course I went from deep appreciation to irritable to fine. Perhaps it is because she is not bipolar—while her dad was and brother is, I don’t like her choosing names for anyone but herself.
What would I call it, then, in my own writings, in my own, maybe someday, memoir? That, that is a very good question. I do not like any of the names: not mentally ill, not with a mental disorder, not even bipolar II, the truth. All of the terms are loaded with connotations, negative connotations, thanks to a stigmatizing culture, a misunderstanding culture, a generally clueless culture.
My brain is disordered. I know it. But I am not bipolar I. I’ve got it good. Nonetheless, I am crazy. I am mentally ill, sometimes more than others. I have crazy in the blood; the prospect of reproducing is horrifying. (Why bring a being into this world with a predisposition to suffering?) I am heavily medicated; I practically have my own pharmacy. I even have medications I don’t take anymore, just incase. I see the psychiatrist every four to six to eight weeks. I go to counseling every week. I stop by the pharmacy so often they know my name and any quirks in my medications.
Yes, Ms. Lund, I am crazy. No, not undone or incomplete, just disordered. Yes, I am bipolar II. And no, it’s not okay. But it’s truth.