I have an interesting relationship with the word “crazy.” For those of us who consider ourselves unique, idiosyncratic, and not-followers, the label can be a badge of honor. When people call me “crazy,” I feel complimented rather than put down, no matter how the label was meant.
I try not to use the word in my day job. As a therapist, used at work, the word can be incredibly stigmatizing, especially when used in front of someone who’s been called “crazy” because of their mental illness or substance abuse problems.
I was reminded of this recently when one person in my group made a comment about “crazy chicks” and someone else said “I find that incredibly insulting.” I sometimes forget how much words can hurt people. I have thick skin and am not insulted by many of the things other people might be, but that doesn’t mean that some words don’t hurt.
People in the gay population took back the word “queer” and use it in an empowering way. Can “crazy” ever be a badge of honor for people living with mental illness?
Crazy is a label that others put on those who stand out, as a way of dismissing them or keeping them down. But being crazy only begins to describe me and really doesn’t capture the essence of me. It’s an imprecise word. So call me quirky. Call me a know it all. Call me irritable and scary. Those words describe me so much better than that one word. But if you can’t find anything else to call me, call me crazy.
I’m in good company.
“Being crazy isn’t enough.”
― Dr. Seuss
“A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?”
― Albert Einstein