Oh, dear. How I detest that question. What do you want to know? A demographic?
I’M EXUBERANT ~ SOMETIMES TOO EXUBERANT
I’m Canadian. A Baby Boomer with a surfeit of energy. And enthusiasm. In a word? Exuberant. That’s me. I wear lots of hats, as we all do. Here are a few of mine: Journalist. Blogger. Researcher. College Professor – part-time. Volunteer. Public speaker. Mental Health Advocate. (My Dandie Dinmont Terriers – Lucy and Riley – help to keep me sane. My husband Marty does the heavy lifting in that department. He’s my rock. I couldn’t do this and all the other things I do, without them.)
Over the years, I’ve won a number of awards for my journalism, my blogging, my community service and my mental health advocacy, but as far as I’m concerned, the awards are yesterday’s news. It’s what you’re doing now, that counts. All awards do is collect dust and occupy space on my resume. (If you’re interested in that, I’d be happy to post it somewhere.)
I’m constantly changing and growing and learning. And I’m not the most patient person in the world. I’m passionately curious. That’s what drives me. Passion and curiosity.
ABOUT BEING “CRAZY”…
So, what do I know about being “crazy”? Lots.
I’ve had a variety of diagnoses over my 50-year psychiatric history – schizophrenia, catatonic schizophrenia (both entirely wrong, by the way) and then manic depression, bipolar disorder (also inaccurate because I’ve never been depressed) and this “designer label” which more accurately describes me.
“A unipolar mood disorder with a vulnerability to mania.” My psychiatrist gave me that one.
I take medication and it’s very effective and innocent, so my mania never rears its head any more. If I have inklings, I know how to prevent it before it’s full-blown. That’s what all that psychotherapy does for you. You won’t get much insight from a pill bottle. I gain insight from my psychotherapy – I call it “my PhD in me,” though I’ll never graduate with a degree.
I don’t like diagnoses and I despise labelling. I wish we could do away with them. Too many people internalize those psychiatric labels. And they do such damage to your psyche. It’s taken me years to overcome mine and to realize that I’m okay, enough.
Now, we’ve found one that’s really label that’s more accurate for me than any of the above. Hypomania. So that’s what it says on my Medic Alert bracelet.
I’M FAR FROM PERFECT – JUST “OKAY, ENOUGH”…
Most of all, I’m okay enough. Not perfect, far from it. I’m learning that okay is enough. Though I can tend to perfectionism at times. My psychiatrist, Dr. Bob and I, have been working on this for 20 years and continue to work on it. And it’s hard work, but it’s worth it.
I’m also in Recovery. Empowered. I live a meaningful life. A life I love.
The point is labels don’t ever really fit very well. There’s no such thing as a perfect fit in psychiatric diagnostics. It’s an imprecise science. There’s no one-size fits all because we’re all unique. Labels are for jars, not people.
So here I am, warts, wrinkles and all. Out and happy to be so. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Out. That’s what I’m all about. Talking about what it means to be crazy. (And we all have a crazy moments.) Or mad. I like that word. Madness. A fine madness. Sounds great to me. It’s liberating to be out and not covering up anything. To be what you are. Free of all the stereotypes. All the assumptions. We all carry them around and it’s time to liberate ourselves from them. Let them go.
That’s what this community is all about. It’s a process and it demands processing, too.
And I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures of my support system. Without them, I wouldn’t be here with you.
“Blessed are the cracked, for they shall let in the light.” ~ Groucho Marx
Banner Photo Credits: All the headshots on “Coming Out Crazy” were taken by the superb photographers of The Toronto Sun Photo Desk ~ with one exception. The shot on the far right was taken by the Seneca College staff photographer. They are in chronological order ranging from 1988 on the left through to 2008 on the right.
The photo of me and my dogs Lucy and Riley above the tagline was shot on September 19, 2006 by Toronto Sun photographer, Dave Thomas, at the Annual Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club of Canada “Fun Day” a.k.a. “The Dandie Games” or “Embarrass the Owners Day.”
The portrait of me draped blissfully around my husband Marty was taken by one of our guests on my camera at a dinner party we gave earlier that year. It’s one of my favourites.