No Rest for the Wicked – or the Crazy

November 1, 2012 Natasha Tracy

One of the things that is so debilitating about a chronic, long-term mental illness is that it is so relentless. Day in and day out you face the challenges it brings. On your birthday, it’s there. On Christmas, it’s there. On Arbor Day, it’s there. And no matter how you’re feeling and what’s happening in your life, you have to deal with it. Mental illness isn’t the kind of thing that you can push “pause” on. Mental illness doesn’t wait for later. Mental illness is like a 2-year-old. It wants you now, now, now, now and if it can’t have you, then heck hath no fury like a two-year-old ignored.

But I swear, I could be a better crazy person if I could just get a break once in a while. If I could just get all the nuttiness in my head to shut up for a while I swear I could get on with things like work, and taxes and cleaning and the gym. But the nuttiness in my head will not be quelled and this, I think, is one of the hardest things about mental illness.

Back Pain

Back pain sucks. I’ve had significant back pain in my life as once, I was hit by a car as a pedestrian. I woke up the next morning with a whole new appreciation for the expression “I feel like I’ve been hit by a car.”

And back pain gets in the way of everything you do. Walking, sitting, leaning, reaching, back pain can hamper all of that. And quite reasonably, people with back pain can get depressed over it. If the back-pain is long-lasting, the person often becomes demoralized and even despondent under the weight of dealing with the pain all day long. There are pain specialists who deal with nothing but that scenario.

But few people recognize that mental illness is at least that demoralizing because it is at least that consistent. Mental illness is present in more than just walking, sitting, leaning and reaching. Mental illness is present in thinking, which you do every second of every day.

At the Tattoo Parlour

When I took a trip to Paris I brought home a souvenir – a tattoo on my back. I wanted a Tamara de Lempicka painting and I wanted it to be a decent size so the tattoo took about 3.5 hours. And what I learned in that afternoon is that I was perfectly able to deal with the pain, and the endorphins made it quite workable – for about two hours – then the pain really set in and the experience was, well, unpleasant.

Again, it was the length of time that made the difference.

Time-Limited Moods

And one thing your average person takes for granted is that their moods are time limited. I could deal with the tattoo because I knew that at some point it would be done. You break up with your girlfriend, sure, it hurts like the Dickens but eventually you will get over it. A death. Same thing. But mood disorders are not necessarily time-limited, at least, not in the traditional sense. It may take the right medication to end a mood and that could literally take years to find. People don’t understand the toll this takes on you.

Forever Crazy

And even when the moods are under control thanks to treatment plans and life changes it takes absolutely vigilance to keep them that way for many people. So there never is a break. Even when things are going well.

It’s no wonder I’m tired all the time.

Mental illness is exhausting whether it’s going well or not and I think people need to remember this, because while everyone may be fighting one demon or another in their lives, few people are fight the very thoughts inside their brain.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2012, November 1). No Rest for the Wicked – or the Crazy, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 16 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleTwitter, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

November, 7 2012 at 9:45 am

Kate - if you don't like what you read, don't read it!!! You are wasting your precious time and energy and your ranting and raving are giving me a great laugh!!! Thanks haven't laugh in a long time!!

The Bipolar Pianist
November, 5 2012 at 1:59 pm

I love the idea of being able to hit a pause button on mental illness. Like wait I can’t be depressed right now I need to go to work. Wait all crazy coping mechanism I have things to do we’ll play later. There seems to be nowhere to breathe in a mental illness. I keep thinking if I can stop and sit down and think about it I’ll be able to work things out. I unfortunately know that my mental illness does not want me to stop and think. It’s perfectly happy continuing on this dysfunctional path. Finding time to stop of think clearly is very difficult and sometimes absolutely necessary. I agree with you. Mentally illness is the little 2 year-old, the Energizer Bunny, or the Tasmanian Devil. It won’t stop.

kaitlin panda
November, 5 2012 at 11:23 am

I want to thank Natasha for this post. My loved ones keep telling me to fight the illness and that this will pass. The thought that pushes me closest to the edge is always that it will never pass. I have to remind myself that though I may always have to fight bipolar, the suffering CAN diminish and I CAN get it under control.
Wouldn't it be marvelous though... one day without bipolar?

November, 5 2012 at 1:08 am

When I said "You should write your own blog if you don't like this one and see how many followers you get" it was not actually meant to tell you to go away like if you had gone to a party and been told to go to a different one. I never said to go away, and neither is that my place since it's not my blog.
This is what was meant by the comment:
Okay so you have a particular view i.e. bipolar is not a mental illness, but according to you you can't find any blog which expresses similar views to you. Rather than blasting the existing blogs and saying they are causing harm to people with mental illness and blah blah blah, I think it would be more constructive if you wrote a blog expressing your views, if indeed you think they are worthy of blogging about. Due to the strength of your expression about the matter, it's obvious that you think that they should be.
In the course of my work I have seen many passionate advocates get ignored because they vent their fury on those whose views they wish to change. If you want to influence people first you have to get them onside.
The fact that you took my comment as a personal attack suggests you may not yet have the maturity required to make any impact.
My next comment was in reply to your personal attack on me after reading my thoughtful reply to your comment. I'm guessing I didn't misinterpret it. You said things to me on a scale that I have only been subject to once, while working behind the counter at a gas station. Again it says more about you than it does about me. So I was myself a little defensive in tone.
It was nice to read your latest comment because you described your reasoning in full, explaining your position on the labelling of bipolar disorder. I guess I am with the people who believe bipolar disorder has its basis in the physical functioning of the brain. If you read Natasha's site in more detail, you will see also that she refers to Bipolar disorder as a 'brain disorder' - her brain is broken but her mind is fine.
The reasons why I still use the term mental illness - well I think it is descriptive of the fact that Bipolar is an illness/sickness/disorder/dysfunction as opposed to a character trait. The term 'mental' simply describes the fact that bipolar does relate to mental functions of the body.
-secondly I use the term for convenience, because it has always been used to refer to bipolar disorder and groups it in with other mental illnesses. I do not worry about the fact that there is stigma attached to the terms mental illness and mental. Changing the term will not change the stigma - stigma will still be attached to the new term. Culturally we fear 'crazy people' or 'going crazy' and until that is changed there will always be stigma. I think that the way Natasha uses this kind of language on this site is a very powerful way to reduce stigma.
Perhaps one day psychiatric disorders will eventually be grouped with neurological disorders - but that day has not yet come and at the moment we are in need of this speciality subgroup.
Kate all the best with your life, and congrats on making it this far. Hope to see more posts from you in the future.

November, 4 2012 at 7:13 pm

I actually can type, when I'm not trying to do it on telephone screen.
I was simply trying to close with this thought/comment: no need to worry about the return of my obviously unwelcome presence. This comment is not meant to imply anything negative. On th contrary, it is clear that this blog is not only helpful to some, but also enjoyed by them. It just isn't for me.
Clearly my comments are unwanted and disturbing and seem to undermine the purpose of this blog.
In spite of what I said earlier, I do very strongly believe that each person must find his or own way to happiness, comfort, and support. Because of that belief, I feel that everyone, myself included, would be better served by my absence. Regardless of our differences of opinions, I would never dream of being a source of pain or conflict to other people who suffer from the same or similar problems that I myself struggle with on a daily basis.
If you find comfort in this forum, I wish you the best of luck.
I will keep searching for what will help me through those rough times.

November, 4 2012 at 6:48 pm

I must admit that I came back to this site out of curiousity...or maybe it was that penchant I have for bullheadedness...or maybe that nablity to back down ( BP is that???)
I was sure I was going to have a lot to said and after reading the response t my comments...I was right. Which is exactly why I walked away from my computer and "took a chill pill," figuratively speaking, of course.
Before I continue with my response, I would like to state to Natasha that your blog was recommended to me. I was told that it was ne of the best out there. Not having ever been a blogger, from either side, I thought "maybe this is what I've been searching for." So, if what you are doing and providing s helping people...then kudos to you.
As for those who've responded to my comments: from my previous comments it's obvious I do not subscribe to BPD being a mental illness. This belief is not based on some personal fantasy of mine or some crackpot theory I saw online or, God forbid, some talk show. There is a huge chasm dividing the medical community (and has been there for many decades--and widening continually) as to whether BPD is a mental or physical disorder/disease. I'm sorry if you don't believe this, but the truth s, more and more medical professionals are moving to the "physical" side in mind-blowing numbers.
As for some of the more colorful comments? Am I angry? You betcha. (...wasn't aware that anger was a criteria for mental illness...) Am I a wee bit hostile, even? Ditto and ditto.
I'd like to leave you with this thought...
If you'd been invited to a party, or even just stumbled into some conversation, etc. and you found yourself the target of ridicule, cruel comments, and told to go find your own" friends," wouldn't you also be angry, hurt, confused, and upset? I thought so.

November, 4 2012 at 6:12 pm

Kate - Do you mean that bipolar disorder cannot be a mental illness because it has physical causes?
You probably already know some of this stuff since you're educated, but just to make sure:
- The idea that the mind and the brain are composed of two fundamentally different substances is called dualism.
- The idea that the mind and the brain are composed of a single type of substance is called monism.
- A particular type of monism, called identity position, states that the processes of the mind are the same phenomenon as the physical processes of the brain.
- Identity position maintains that although the mind and the brain are experienced in different ways (the mind is experienced subjectively as consciousness, while the brain is observed as an object), they are the same thing.
- When psychologists speak of the mind, they are generally (although not always - theorists differ in their positions) referring to the mind from the identity position.
- An implication of the identity position is that activity in the mind cannot exist without activity in the brain.
- Another implication is that processes in the brain evoke activity in the mind.
- This means that when an aspect of a person's brain structure or function is significantly different from the norm, activity in their mind is also significantly different.
- These differences in the mind can take the form of distressing emotions, intrusive thoughts, delusions, hallucinations, etc.
A person having chemical imbalances in their brain is not mutually exclusive to having a mental illness. Although the term "mental illness" seems to imply "a problem limited to the mind", the term is misleading. Both mental and physical illnesses have mental and physical components. A mental illness has some relation to the functioning of the brain, although exactly what that relation is is not very well understood (yet).
I don't know if that's what you were getting at when you said that bipolar disorder isn't a mental illness - I'm sorry if I misunderstood.

November, 4 2012 at 3:11 pm

I understand completely how bipolar disorder pretty much takes over your life. Everything I do and think revolves around it. I also have no problem saying I have a mental illness. It does not describe who I am or make me less of a person it is just describing a condition that I have

November, 3 2012 at 7:31 pm

It has been interesting reading these blogs. I try to get on and read when I can but life just gets in the way and I don't care to sit on the computer.
I find it interesting that one would "blast" this website. Everyone has their own opinion and are certainly entitled to have one.
While I was reading Kate's comment, her tone is certainly coming thru. Anger. Frustration. I don't think she means to be this way and maybe she isn't noticing that she is at a point in her cycle where she really can't think reasonably because the anger and frustration are getting in the way. She is fixated on one not be told Bipolar is a mental illness. I don't know, I will find out next week when I speak to my dr for the first time what this really is..a chemical imbalance or a mental illness. I just recognize the anger and frustration.
I can say that after having an answer to my incredibly ever changing mood swings, that instead of wondering what the problem is, I think how do I get through the day without ripping someones face off or when is it going to rear its ugly head.
I have found that I am much more tired these days and somewhere between 10am and 12pm and again between 3am and 5pm I am fighting sleep so bad. I can not sleep though because I have two small children. So I dredge on and can't wait for bedtime later only to find I am so wound up I can't sleep. I know if I don't get sleep it is not good for me or anyone around me and gosh forbid someone say the wrong thing to me then!
I also do my best to go about my day and not let this take control of me but it is always, always on my mind now.
I find there are days I can not shut the racing thoughts off no matter what I try and even controlling them to not come out of my mouth or want to hurt someone is extremely hard. It is exhausting. For those who do not have this, they cannot possibly understand the amount of restraint some of us have to muster up every minute of every day or the energy we have to find just to get through the day.
I am very glad to be able to find at the very least an online community that talks about this issue. I wish my home community had a group that got together to talk and give support.

November, 3 2012 at 11:14 am

I liked this blog post, as I relate to the relentlessness of BP. The staring at the clock as the evening winds down, fretting about "keeping" the schedule. Trying so hard to sleep the same amount each night. The constant monitoring of the ever shifting tide of moods. All the while being surrounded by people that just don't get it. It is a rough road. I found for me blogging helps immensely.
As to Kate- BPD is actually borderline personality disorder- which last I looked is indeed a mental illness. To each there own, but I see no point in blasting those here minding their business and attempting to survive and thrive with Bipolar. Thank you Natasha for posting with such honesty about the reality of living with BP

Ernie Richards
November, 3 2012 at 5:58 am

Hey Kate, since you claim that bipolar is simply an imbalance of your brain chemicals, have you had your brain chemical levels checked? Nope, didn't think so because that can only be done after death.
Bipolar IS a mental illness, just as diabetes is an illness, proven by the medical community.

November, 3 2012 at 3:14 am

okay so you just spent a good fifteen minutes overreacting to constructive criticism, but you're not mentally ill. Nope, nothing wrong with you at all.

November, 2 2012 at 10:44 pm

Ohhhhhh....Sarah and all of your accolytes...I don't know whether to grab my flag or to just give up...which, BTW is soooooo BP.
THIS is the reason we are misunderstood.
THIS is the reason we can/can't hold jobs/relationships, etc.
Seriously, folks...if I was going to "raise a flag" and carry on the good fight, I would start my own blog or get on tv or some such b.s.
I have no desire to do so.
However, I also have NO desire to keep watching TV shows, blogs, or frankly hearing yet ANOTHER question--no matter how politely put--about my "mental illness." I DO NOT HAVE ONE.
I have an imbalence of seratonin and other other brain chemicals either going "up or down" just like every other BP out there.
I am not crazy, although sometimes I feel like I could be (but who doesn't. feel that way from time to time?)
I not only had and raised 3 beautiful boys...but they are all happy and successful and healthy.
I not only finished High school...but went on to complete not only a Baccalaureate, but also a Master's in my chosen field.
I have owned, successfully, more than a dozen businesses.
Am I rich? Not monetarily, but I live very comfortably.
BUT, I am in need of some support from people who can even remotely relate to what it's like to have BPD.
If this is not the forum, then so be it.
I would certainly think that anyone who has this horrific disorder wouldn't suggest "go get your own blog."
Go to hell, lady, I've been bulldozed by better than you and I'm still around to tell the story.
So sorry to fuck up your Tea/Pity Party.

November, 2 2012 at 9:31 pm

Hey Kate,
Maybe you can start your own blog if you don't like this one. Then see how many followers you get.
I don't think Natasha is trying to say you can't function in the real world with bipolar. Obviously, she does function. She's just explaining how incredibly bloody difficult it can be.
I for one think the blog is spot on (well, most of the time anyway :) ) Thanks for your work Natasha.

November, 2 2012 at 10:11 am

Well done, Natasha! As usual, you have a way of putting into words - words that I can share with others - about how I am feeling. I always say that BPD is hard work and not for the faint of heart ;)
Kate - I am sorry you feel frustrated by a perceived lack of all diagnostic protocal, BPD is a mental illness and in fact, one of the few that actually causes organic changes in the brain based on functional MRI's. I do hope you find what you are seeking, but try a little open-mindedness.
Thank you again, Natasha, for "fighting the fight" so you can write and share!

stephanie hansen
November, 2 2012 at 6:32 am

Every new stress in my life, be it physical or mental/emotional, must be balanced out immediately with some sort of de-stressing relaxation time-out activity, a new virtual pressure-release valve installed somewhere in my life, or I will overload right away and the results will not be good. That's because, as you say, the bipolar is "on" all the time, night and day, weekdays and weekends, no time off for holidays or special events. If anything, it kicks into overdrive during the holidays.
No, people around me generally don't 'get' that it never stops and that, yes, I get tired very easily very often because my brain is always so active. It wears a body down, and the medication doesn't exactly perk me up! Wow. Heaven's no. Thankfully, I do have a few very dear friends who are compassionate and understanding who have chronic illnesses themselves, physical illnesses, who are truly understanding that both for themselves and myself, we are affected mind, boy, and soul, and we must carefully balance each and every day to maintain any sort of wellness.
Carry on carrying the word, my love. Your deep understanding is deeply appreciated. Your audacity is applauded. It's just fine and dandy to walk that line you're walking between not wallowing in self-pity, but not shining-it-up for the world with platitudes and I-the-great-survivor crapola.

Maureen Powell
November, 2 2012 at 4:51 am

As usual, you are bang on with this one. I have unipolar depression and I have had it ALL THE TIME for over thirty years. Yes, medication helps me manage it and years of therapy and hard work have given me tools that can help, but it's always there. I have to take my meds (3 of them) every day, some in the morning and some at night. If I'm going away somewhere, I have to make sure to take them with me. I am constantly, continually battling thoughts and moods that make life difficult and sometimes unbearable. I no longer have the pre-medication deep black moods of depression and rage that made me want to kill everyone around me and then myself, but I do wonder, every single day, why I keep fighting this illness just to live a life full of pain that I have no reason to believe will get any better.

November, 1 2012 at 9:22 pm

As it seems popular today to say, OMG. I came online...and have done so on and off for many see if I could find an intelligent, reasonable, INFORMED blog, forum, or SOMETHING about Bi-Polar Disorder.
Once again, I am disappointed. What a surprise.
Jesus, no wonder "regular" people get the heebie-jeebiess about BPD.
While science hasn't Cathy up with the vagaries (and just plain out scariness) of the human brain, much less the chemicals that seem to run it)...IT IS IS A WELL KNOWN FACT THAT BPD, WHILE MANIFESTING ITSELF WITH EMOTIONAL ISSUES SUCH AS THE OBVIOUS--DEPRESSION AND MANIA--(hence the 'old-fashioned term,' manic-depressive disorder')--IS NOT AND HAS NEVER BEEN PROVEN TO BE A MENTAL ILLNESS!!!!!!!! It is, simply (as 'simple' as BPD could EVER be...a chemical imbalance--not all that different than,say diabetes--a chemical imbalance in the pancreas).
It's bad enough that we live with the stigma that so-called "normal" people give us...must we, the ones who must live with this crappy "faucet" in our brains going on the blink amongst ourselves????
I just want to find a website, forum, blog, chatroom, WHATEVER that actually is designed or at the very least welcomes BPDs who actually understand the fundamental FACT that they are NOT mentally disabled or UNABLE to FUNCTION in the world!!!!
Sometimes I would just like to talk to someone who actually understands.
What a fucking concept.
I am so sorry I actually thought, once again, that this site might be different.

November, 1 2012 at 8:53 pm

Another good piece Natasha.
My mood has only got to drop slightly and I find myself being utterly exhausted for days, all motivation is stood still,I sleep 2-3 hours longer each night and even when I wake up my brain doesn't register for ages that I actually can get out of bed now.
Even when as you say things are under control, through vigilance,something left of field comes along and negates all the care I have taken, constant reminder stuff, just to let me know BP is just waiting in the wings to make it's presence felt.

November, 1 2012 at 3:37 pm

I relate to what you are saying. My counselor once asked me how much I think about my bipolar disorder, and she was surprised when I said, Every day. You are right: Even when things are going well, there is constant vigilance to ensure they stay right. Thank you agan for sharing your insights.

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