October 25, 2013

I Am The Crazy Ex

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What is the issue?

You’ve probably heard someone describe one or more previous significant others as “crazy.” You can also probably assume that that someone is a douchebag that doesn’t realize that if he has to describe every one of his exes has “crazy,” maybe he’s the common denominator. However, a few of those said douchebags actually do have some grounds to use that term, as base as it may be. My first love is one of them, and his crazy ex is me.

Everyone seems to have one, but no one seems to be one, or want to admit they are, or know that they are. But we do exist. And we are human beings. And there is more than one adjective that applies to us.

I became the crazy ex girlfriend at 15. And according to this anonymous boy and his friends, that is who I will always be.

According to him, I am not the ex girlfriend who had an undiagnosed psychological illness, who then sought treatment for it, got medication, and is now stable. I am the crazy ex girlfriend.

According to him, I am not the ex girlfriend with elements of borderline personality disorder and general anxiety and depression. I am the crazy ex girlfriend.

According to him, I called him 70 times a day for a week (yes, that is an actual real thing that I did) not because there was physically a chemical inbalance in my brain that tricked my mind into thinking that was a good idea. It was because I, generally, as a person, am crazy, and still am, and can never get better, and would do the same thing tomorrow if it struck my fancy.

According to him, I acted the way I did solely because of him, because I was obsessed with him, and not because of any internal issue that actually had nothing to do with him and everything to do with myself and my own mental health.

Two things happen to crazy people. One, as I’ve outlined, people stick you with a label that exempts them from the burden of treating you like a person. It is much easier to dismiss someone as “crazy,” inside and out, forever and always, than to entertain the idea that something much more complicated is going on. People are bad at empathy. It’s not something we teach our kids.

The second thing happens if you (the crazy person) work up the courage to mention that you are actually more than a fleshy sack of organs that screams and cries and hurts itself and freaks people out sometimes. People try to make you feel better. My admission of “I have social anxiety and worry that all my friends hate me” universally gets the response, “What are you talking about? Nobody hates you!” Thank you. Now I feel irrational and delusional. Oh, and I haven’t stopped feeling like everyone hates me. Yes, of course I know on some level that this isn’t literally true, but being told that doesn’t make my head stop doing what it’s doing – it only reminds me that my feelings are wrong or deviant and that something in my brain is broken.

I didn’t set out to write another rant about the stigma of mental illness. A lot of people talk about the differences in how we treat physical and mental ailments. I think that everyone knows that if I had diabetes instead of a personality disorder, I wouldn’t be the “diabetic girlfriend.” I don’t have to tell you that. But I do have an unpopular opinion.

Mental and physical illnesses and disabilities are not the same. While physical diseases may certainly take a toll on one’s psyche as a side effect, they do not directly alter who you are as a human being. They do not directly change your perception of reality. When you have an infection, you take antibiotics. End of story. You don’t ask yourself if maybe your pink eye is just a part of who you are and taking drugs to fix it is just living a lie.

My point is that it’s not just my peers or society telling me that I am inherently and permanently broken, or worse yet, don’t really have any problems at all. My own head is telling me that too. TC mark

Emma Gerch

Emma is 19 and stumbling through undergrad in Los Angeles. She is a fan of high-waisted shorts and nice cheeses.

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