Welcome to Crazyville

We take the fire within us.
We take it and make it our own.
The fire will not consume us.
We take it and make it our own.

Why would I call myself crazy? Why would I describe the process I’m going through as an attempt at coping in Crazyville?

The fact is, I do think I’m crazy, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being crazy.

“Crazy” is a term that is often used negatively. People use it to dismiss what someone says, or to prevent them from speaking. People use it to deny the experiences that took someone from “normal” to “crazy.” They use it to make people who have (or are presumed to have) a mental illness into something dangerous, something other than themselves.

But I think back to the years I was in the Lesbian Avengers, and we worked hard to reclaim words like “dyke” and “queer.” I approach “crazy” the same way. When the Avengers eat fire (are there still fire-eating Lesbian Avengers out there?), they chant “We take the fire within us, we take it and make it our own; the fire will not consume us, we take it and make it our own.” So by taking back the insults, the things meant to hurt, the things meant to oppress, we’re taking some control of the situation.

I am crazy. One meaning of “crazy” is broken into pieces. So I think of a “crazy quilt.” When crazy quilts were popular, they were a way of keeping all the bits and pieces that were still useful from expensive fabrics. The pieces were too small to make something entirely on their own, but they were too beautiful to discard. So people would stitch them together to make a crazy quilt. They would use their fanciest embroidery stitches to hold the pieces together, and they would mix the fabrics to show that they were each different and beautiful in their own right. They didn’t try to make it seem as though the crazy quilt was created from a single piece of cloth. Rather, they emphasized the diversity, and also the stitches that held everything together. It wasn’t seamless, and that was the point.

I take that approach to coping with dissociative identity disorder. Perhaps my childhood left me with a bunch of different pieces that aren’t able to stand on their own. But that doesn’t mean I have to try to patch the bits and pieces together until I seem to have a seamless whole. Instead, I can embrace who and what I am: a lot of different pieces, worthy and valuable on our own, but made into something more than the sum of the parts when stitched together.

I am not willing to be ashamed of who I am. Not if I can make a different choice. Someone wants to call me crazy? Fine, I’m crazy. But I can define the meaning of crazy for myself.

Thinking back to the example of the Lesbian Avengers, I guess there is also something a little transgressive about reclaiming a term. Perhaps I am not supposed to be okay with being crazy. And maybe other people are uncomfortable with the term. But I believe that by staking out some ground where it’s okay to be crazy, where I am as open as I can safely be, then I am also helping to open up some possibilities for other people.

If crazy can include people who are functional, if it can include people who have healthy relationships, if it can include people who are intelligent and hard-working, if it can include people who are doing their best to cope in this world, then maybe it doesn’t have to mean some kind of shameful life sentence. So even if you don’t consider yourself crazy, please feel welcome to take a look at this site, and see if there’s anything useful for you.

One Response
  1. max :

    Date: February 7, 2009 @ 1:56 am

    Those first four paragraphs are super-fab and totally right now.
    I’m putting a copy of my zine Mad Love in my bag to give you tomorrow, in which I make a similar parallel between the crazies and the queers. Yay I’m excited to talk about this.

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