Well, 3:30 a.m., we meet again.
And no, I’m not drunkenly at McDonald's with friends celebrating the weekend, I haven’t done that since college...or, uh, ever. I’m also not the spouse in a horror movie obsessively placing wood on the fire in our newly purchased haunted home.
Nope, tonight I’m in bed, and though I brushed my teeth, shut off the light and put my phone down hours ago, I’m still very much awake.
Here’s a little bit about me:
I don’t drink coffee past 4 p.m., I try to take melatonin at around 10 p.m. every night, and I practice yoga breathing because on the nights when it’s an option, I want some control over the sleep I get, but sometimes my brain has other plans.
My brain thinks 3:30 a.m. is an excellent time to go over things that I can’t at that moment, or in general, control. Like how I should be taking better care of myself, whether I’m progressing in the way that I want to in my career and how I should be reaching out to long-distance friends and family more often.
Well, those are the more reasonable concerns that cycle through my brain anyway.
But sometimes, despite my best efforts, my thoughts circle back to times in my life that aren’t entirely productive to relive. Like remembering that one time that that person that means a lot to me inferred that I’m crazy.
Listen, mental illness is no friggin’ picnic. I’ve been around it in one form or another my whole life, and it’s often trying on those who aren’t directly suffering. But you know what’s worse? What the ones who are directly suffering are going through.
It can be consuming, debilitating, isolating and make you feel like you’re inches below the surface, frantically swimming in place with a cinder block tied to your feet.
I can’t speak for everyone, only myself, but I can say with some certainty that even indirectly referring to people with mental illness as crazy is hurtful beyond measure. It’s offensive.
It’s like making someone with a disability feel incapable.
Mental illness is a hot topic right now because of all the mass shootings that have happened, but let’s get something straight.
Google defines crazy as, “mentally deranged, especially as manifested in a wild or aggressive way”.
Though not the sole definition of the word, it is a definition commonly understood in society.
There are varying degrees of mental illness and a majority of people living with it can not and should not be considered mentally deranged or aggressive.
Here are some statistics according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness:
In the United States, One in five, or 18.5 percent, of adults suffer from mental illness.
One in 25, or four percent, of adults, experience extreme mental illness that, “substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities."
And 18.1 percent of adults suffer from an anxiety disorder.
That’s 40 million people that suffer or have suffered from anxiety.
The point is, mental illness is fairly common. Anxiety disorders are fairly common, just ask John Mayer or Howie Mandel, and though there’s much debate as to whether the occurrence of mental illness is actually increasing, it’s most likely not going to go away either.
Granted, you shouldn’t call anyone or make anyone feel as though they are crazy, and especially not someone who suffers from a mental illness. Perhaps this snapshot will help float some further needed perspective into cyberspace.