Have a lot to say about this article, but mostly obviously ‘don’t date the crazy chick’ is a ridiculously offensive and simplistic way to say what in the context of this article should probably be something like ‘Give your mental health the care and attention it deserves, and if you choose to start a journey in exploration of your 'self’ / ‘mental health’, treat it as the very important one it is - you will probably need a guide and people around you trust'
Bipolar mania, despite its reputation as being “the opposite of” depression and therefore good in some way, is actually fucking terrifying. With hypomania, you know that you’re in an energetic and unsustainable state, so it’s not that bad as long as you keep your exercise, sleep, and eating routines within normal ranges. The danger of mania is how real it feels: there’s a loss of insight about how altered one is. If the thought, “I no longer need sleep because X”, for some value of X involving superhumanity or spiritual enlightenment, crosses your mind, you desperately need sleep– and to see a psychiatrist. Anyone who goes for 3-10 days without sleep will become psychotic, bipolar disorder or none.
The end of an untreated manic episode is probably the worst: the point where you become aware of what has happened, you know you fucked up and broke shit, you don’t fully remember what was going on, and want desperately to sleep but the best you can do is a nap with weird, frantic dreams.
I’m also pretty negative on the “New Age” bastardizations of Eastern religions. I don’t think that Buddhist spiritual practice is unhealthy (on the contrary) and I doubt that the yoga caused his psychotic break. (It’s more likely that his obsessive interest in religion was a prodromal symptom.) I do, however, think that these ideas, when taken out of their contexts, become dangerous– in the same way that peyote is harmless in indigenous spiritual practice, but would wreck the mind of one who mistook it for “a party drug”– because they allow people to mistake biological illness for spiritual acceleration. If you’re a monk who experiences False Enlightenment, you’re at least going to be surrounded by people who understand the phenomenon and know that it will pass. If you’re an office worker, it could wreck your professional life to be handing out crystals and talking about mythical beasts (unless said beasts are unicorns).
This is a really good and important write-up. (How much I wish the last line wasn’t there.)
I understand the (probably unintentional) gendered nature of the statement, but at the same time, I think that most people with biological mental illness would do better to find a more neurotypical partner. If you both have issues with anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder, you’re at risk of playing off each other and things can get out of hand.
It’s a bit callous to suggest that no one should “date the crazy chick” but, at the same time, there are unhealthy pairings and when it comes to biological mental illness, two people who have it can end up making each other worse off.
Dunno. It’s a really individual thing and I’d never try to give prescriptive advice to others. In my experience, neurotypical partners fail to understand really important things, and often have some expectation that “it will be fine in the end” (another of the article’s lines that I wish I could get rid of), and are upset when it turns out my issues are going to be lifelong and that my life and theirs needs to adapt around those if we’re going to be happy. I’ve never had that problem with a partner who has also spent years learning how to manage their brain stuff, because that’s a common experience even when the specifics aren’t. It does take a lot more care, but anything worth it is hard. :)
Fair point, as I can only speak from my own experience. I don’t have a lot of data.
Of course, men are far too quick to apply the “crazy” label to women who behave badly, just as women are too quick to apply “creepy” to men of below-average social skill. Not only does “crazy chick” add to the stigma surrounding biological mental illness (“BMI”) but it also plays into awful stereotypes about women.
On a side note, as un-PC as the terms “crazy” and “insane” are, I use them. And I suffer from BMI. As far as I’m concerned, the two concepts are different. When I say that a cult is insane, I don’t mean that the people literally suffer from BMI. I doubt that many of them do. I mean that it (the cult, that is) impairs the mental health of others. In this way, the use of “insane” is more akin to “mentally unsanitary” than “afflicted with mental illness”.
The archetypical “crazy chick” (not to say that this applies to the woman in the OP’s story) may or may not have BMI. What she does have is a pattern of shitty behavior that threatens the mental health of others. (Men are likewise labelled as “creepy” if they cause anxiety in women.) Ultimately, people are labelled based on their effects on the people around them. This is a pretty severe mislabelling in the case of “crazy” vs. BMI because (a) most people with BMI don’t behave in such harmful ways, (b) many people who spread mental ill-health do not have BMI– when it comes to actual bad behaviors, whether we’re talking about violent crime or infidelity or anything else, the BMI and non-BMI population are usually identical in propensity– and © just as men can do nothing wrong and be labelled “creepy”, women can do nothing wrong and be labelled “crazy”, and “the crazy chick” isn’t here to defend herself.
That’s fair enough. None of it is the terminology I’d have chosen but you’re describing real phenomena.
Which phenomena? I’m not sure if I follow the language, but I find the lack of analysis about crazy men and creepy women a bit unsatisfying.
I’m not sure who decides what is or is not PC, but “crazy” seems to mean simply “beyond comprehension”. There’s a certain hacker’s attraction to the unknown, which, I imagine, was the basis of the draw in this relationship.
“Creepy” seems similar, but with a different set of fears related to that unknown.
I mean, “crazy” is a word I have a lot of feelings about. I’ve gone back and forth but at the moment, when I’m called crazy, I say yes, proudly. I don’t usually use it first though. I don’t think there’s any standard way to feel, but it’s usually possible to have an interesting, friendly discussion when meeting someone who dislikes the word. The main advice I have is, like any word that has a history as a slur, don’t use it unless it applies to you. :)
“Creepy” for me invokes a pretty specific set of fears about various forms of potential for violence, sexual and otherwise, and about the kinds of pointed privacy invasion and ways of signaling power that tend to precede that.
I understood “too quick to apply "creepy” to men of below-average social skill" as talking about the thing where people who are obviously neuroatypical in any of various ways do get read as being that sort of predator, based on them being illegible (article is tangential) rather than on any more-specific signal. And that’s a thing that happens. There’s a lot more that I could say about the parties to it and their respective safety and responsibilities, but it deserves more electrons-pretending-to-be-ink than I want to spill right now.
What does BMI stand for here, since I’m pretty sure you aren’t referring to Body Mass Index?
“Biological Mental Illness”, as defined a few posts up. (This is the first time I’ve seen that definition too.)
It can go many ways, and there are certainly healthy and unhealthy pairings. At least in my experience, though, once you start to get to know people well enough, nobody is all that neurotypical.
I think Irene has covered most of what I would normally respond with here — as someone with MI, I definitely struggle to convey even some of the most basic issues that can come up for me to those without (this happens a lot with my immediate/birth family) — so instead just writing to say that I appreciate your response!
Well, thanks. :)
This is why it’s so important to stop, let go, and just be something else outside of your engineering and technological brain. We’re not machines, we have to eat, sleep, be loved, love and take care of ourselves. Computers are here so they can manage uptime, always be available, and do the annoying little meticulous things that have to be thought out, and then put down. All the eastern philosophy and new age stuff was just another complexity added to an already too busy mind. Even with intense monastic zen practice, you still eat, sleep, and have people there to help you if you go too far off the deep end. Any hallucinations you might experience are just that, and nothing to be held on to. Grasping onto the experience becomes delusion, and one of the poisons and sicknesses so often talked about in zen training. Tapping into our subconsciousness, and our lucid dreaming states can elicit profound experience, but balance, knowing when to stop, when to let go, when to disengage; these are all parts of a balanced practice. That said, I think the industry is prone to self destructive life styles, and that it’s probably easy to get in a state where you no longer think you have time to sleep, making everything much much worse, like a positive feedback loop. Eat right, get sleep, drink water, exercise, be human! Kenneth Reitz, I think a lot of us probably look up to you for writing about this and your contributions to open source. I know I do, and on behalf of myself and others I say, thank you and please take care of yourself. There are probably lots of people around you who care, you just need to reconnect with them.