The Definition of Crazy

The Definition of Crazy

When I was a kid, I heard people say that the definition of crazy was doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. I never thought much about it at that time.

Years pass, I find myself suffering with anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation. For lack of better words, I am crazy. I looked at my life and think about everything I’m doing. Am I doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result? The answer is a loud NO. I feel like a warrior battling to stay alive with everything I have. I am covered in battle scars- I’ve tried everything I can to stay alive. I feel an urgency that doesn’t allow me to do the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. So if that’s not crazy, what is?

I take step back and look at my family and friends.

I see confused warriors standing around me. We are not sure what is happening, but they’re trying everything to help me.  Staying up until to 4 am, hospital visits, doctors appointments, and a seemingly endless supply of compassion from all to help me. They too feel urgency, and can’t afford to do the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. They wrap their arms around me to keep me here, with worry in their eyes. They fear that we are cupped hands and filled with water, that regardless of how hard they try I could slip away without them fully understanding why. These people don’t meet the definition of crazy. I keep looking.

I take a step back and look at my community.

I see therapists and helpers who go eight hours without bathroom breaks. taking from their own cup to pour into the cups of strangers. People who listen for hours, just to go home and learn about better ways to listen, and resources to help others. They are consistently trying to find ways to keep people here.  I see the educators of my community helping others understand what mental illness means. I see the resource builders searching for the right answer. I see people trying their hardest to fix what’s broken, to keep people here. They tell me: “What you need to do is look at the system.”

I take my final step backwards and look at the system.

I am scared by what I see. It’s an old, slowly moving machine. We are all part of it, yet none of us own it. It hums along to the screams of people begging for it to be different. It’s powered by decisions that made sense, by well-intentioned thoughts, by structures that were meant to help, by people who didn’t know any better. I see people who are a part of it, pushing against something so much bigger then them, and feeling crushed by its weight.

This is it. It’s the system; it’s doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.

It’s crazy.

From this perspective I look to my sides and see so many other people looking to change this system. People who are thoughtfully considering ways to change something that’s so complex, where the pieces make sense on their own, but together it’s a dysfunctional mess. I am filled with hope that we can work through, and fix this complex problem together. I am also filled with fear, if we don’t fix this we will continue to lose people.

I struggle to find the right words to sum up my perspective other than pointing at the system and saying:
You call me crazy?!