Are Bipolars Crazy? I Am.

June 9, 2010 Natasha Tracy

I am crazy. I say this, but people don’t like the word crazy. Most often, what people say is, you’re not!. Well, actually, I am. I'm bipolar and I’m crazy.

I am crazy. I tell this to people in my personal life. It’s not a secret. I figure there’s no point in trying to cover it up; it’ll come out eventually. The approximately 20 scars on my forearms rather give away that something is wrong.

But people really don’t like the word “crazy”. In fact, most often, what people say to me is, “no, you’re not!”. Well, actually, I am. I'm bipolar and I’m crazy.

Definition of Crazy: See 'Bipolar'

Some selected definitions based on the Random House Dictionary:

cra•zy /ˈkreɪzi/ [krey-zee]
1. mentally deranged; demented; insane.
2. senseless; impractical; totally unsound: a crazy scheme.
3. Informal. intensely enthusiastic; passionately excited: crazy about baseball.
4. Informal. very enamored or infatuated (usually fol. by about): He was crazy about her.
5. Informal. intensely anxious or eager; impatient: I'm crazy to try those new skis.
6. Informal. unusual; bizarre; singular: She always wears a crazy hat.
7. Slang. wonderful; excellent; perfect: That's crazy, man, crazy.
8. having an unusual, unexpected, or random quality, behavior, result, pattern, etc.: a crazy reel that spins in either direction.

9. Slang. an unpredictable, nonconforming person; oddball

If those definitions don’t scream bipolar to you, then you just haven’t been paying attention.

I find these definitions entirely complementary. Intensely enthusiastic? Passionately excited? Eager? Bizarre? Excellent, perfect? Unexpected or random? Nonconforming person?

I will take all of those things, thank-you.

I Prefer "Crazy" Over "Mentally Ill"

My personal shortcut to all the above is simple; crazy: a person who perceives reality in an unexpected way.

That’s pretty much it. I am a person who lives in the same world as everyone else, but I perceive it differently. My brain gets the same stimuli, but somehow it fires in an unusual way. It’s different. It’s crazy.

I don’t find this pejorative; it’s accurate. I really am most of those things listed under crazy, and I’m OK with that.

Now the term mentally ill, I’m not a fan of. I use it, generally for political correctness reasons, but I don’t care for it. It sounds like I have some condition where my brain leaks out my ears. Post-cranial drip.

What’s more, it implies there is something wrong with my mind. I assure you, there is not. My mind is up and running and could beat yours in a footrace. No, what’s wrong is my brain. My brain is sick. My mind is fine. I have a brain-al illness, not a mental one.

A person with a brain tumor isn’t mentally ill. An epileptic isn’t mentally ill either. These people just have something wrong with their brain. (They don't necessarily get to be crazy though.)

The mind-brain separation is a complex bit of business, so I’ll leave it for another day, but I will say that to me, it’s important to remember that my brain is sick, and not my mind. There’s nothing wrong with me, Natasha, there is something wrong with my brain. Just like if I break my arm, there is nothing wrong with me, but there is something wrong with my arm.

So yes, I’m crazy. I perceive the world differently than you do. My brain doesn’t fire the right chemicals at the right times. But that’s the fault of a bad brain. Me, I’m fine. Just a bit crazy, that's all.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter or at the Bipolar Burble, her blog.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2010, June 9). Are Bipolars Crazy? I Am., HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 24 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.

Natasha is also unveiling a new book, Bipolar Rules! Hacks to Live Successfully with Bipolar Disorder, mid-2024.

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

Art Deco
April, 14 2011 at 2:00 pm

I had a girlfriend many years ago who had bipolar disorder, or manic depression as we called it in those days. I'm reading that Catherine Zeta-Jones has developed the condition after being subject to profound stress to do with the cancer of Michael Douglas, her husband. That this is possible, developing the condition, is certainly news to me as in my day we were only told (so far as I'm aware) that it was a genetic condition, you had it or you didn't have it. It sounds like more is understood about bipolar disorder these days, so that at least is encouraging news.

Natasha Tracy
October, 3 2010 at 10:30 am

Hi Maria,
Well, I refuse to be dismissed by crazy. Sure, you can call me that, but I don't find it dismissive.
You're not inferior nor are your perspectives. If you have a mental illness what you are experiencing is a brain disease. _You_ are not the disease, but the disease may be affecting you greatly.
This is the difference between your brain and your mind. You are you. Whomever you are. That is your mind. It's the part of you that no other person can be. Your brain on the other hand is a physical thing. It's the thing that can be hurt by being smacked by a 2" x 4". Your brain is sick. Your mind is yours. Always will be.
From what you are saying it sounds like you would really benefit from some cognitive behavioral therapy as they focus on the difference between what your brain tells you and what you then do with that input. There are therapists that specialize in this area. It can really help you find yourself in the storm of the crazy.
It's great that you're thinking about it, but others can help you find perspective.
Just a thought.
- Natasha

Natasha Tracy
October, 3 2010 at 10:23 am

Hi Social,
Glad you laughed. Always a positive result from writing.
I see no reason not to explain everything through crazy. In fact, I think it's going to become all the rage.
- Natasha

October, 2 2010 at 7:27 pm

I often think about this question ..if I have a mood disorder am I crazy ? That would imply that I am unreasonable would it not ? That would suggest that I am illogical because I am emotional or mad without just cause. I find that the most frustrating issue that I have to deal with. I don't like that what I am projecting into the world is not valid , the core of who I am is still very much the same . I am trying to make sense of my feelings and not get bogged by focussing on the idea that I am inferior or that my perspectives are inferior , this is a real struggle .I do find lately that I wonder about crazy that really what I am ? I just do not want to be dismissed as such . I think that is really exasperating and what makes me spin my wheels. ( so to speak)

Social Phobic among other things
October, 2 2010 at 11:45 am

Oh dear. Now I'm laughing, imagining how AWESOME it would be if the word "crazy" wasn't always associated with murderers and incompetence, and we could use the term to "explain"...
Person: Why are you crying on the bus?
Other person: I'm crazy.
Person: Oohhh, okay then.
Person: Why did you not speak in class for almost the whole semester, then after class the other day we talked for almost twenty minutes, and now that we're in class again, you're not speaking to me?
Other Person (whispering): I'm crazy.
Person: Oh, okay then.
Person: Why do you avoid writing stories that the teacher will read, but when you were forced to write a story in half an hour you won the school's writing competition, even though everyone else had a month to write their stories?
Other Person: I'm crazy.
Person: Ohh, okay.
Actually, it reminds me a bit of my group of friends in high school... Almost all of us were crazy, so saying "I'm crazy" was considered a reasonable explaination, lol.

Natasha Tracy
October, 2 2010 at 7:59 am

Wes, glad you got a smile.
- Natasha

October, 1 2010 at 11:29 pm

This REALLY cracked me up! Thank you Natasha for writing this blog. I'm going through your entire archive and so far I definitely can relate to much of what you write.

Natasha Tracy
September, 23 2010 at 12:13 pm

I've listed some of the definitions and I have no problem owning many of them.
Crazy is a definition for insanity, as is "mentally disordered". Well, I _am_ mentally disordered. That's the whole problem.
I get that we all want to be seen as normal, because we are, but I don't think it's necessary to run away from words just because _other_ people use them in a derogatory manner. Anything can be derogatory, "oh, you're an _office_assistant_?" People don't suddenly run away from the words office assistant just because one nasty person decided to make it seem negative.
The word crazy is real, as is insane. I can deal with reality. If someone chooses to use those words as insults, then that's their prerogative, but that only speaks ill of them, and not of me, or of the words.
- Natasha

September, 23 2010 at 10:46 am

I don't consider people with Bipolar to be crazy. It all depends on how you define it, but many people associate this word, when used in this sort of context, with the word insane. Being bipolar doesn't mean you're insane.
I, myself may or may not get offended by this word depending on who says it and how they say it.

Natasha Tracy
September, 2 2010 at 4:57 pm

Hi Lesa,
Congratulations on moving a mountain. Freedom is much better.
- Natasha

August, 31 2010 at 4:36 pm

Thanks Natasha,
Learning to accept myself was like removing Mt. Everest from my shoulders!! The disdain with which I viewed myself before was like the heaviest weight conceivable. I feel a lot more free now :)

Natasha Tracy
August, 31 2010 at 8:38 am

Hi Lesa,
I think many people find the diagnosis almost a relief for exactly the reasons you said.
And yes, you are a normal human being with a brain disease. Congratulations on your learning to accept yourself. That's amazing.
- Natasha

August, 31 2010 at 3:26 am

I can relate to this. Prefer Crazy too and its not as heavy or serious as 'mentally ill' and agree with the mind/brain difference. I was just glad in a way when I got my Bipolar I diagnosis, because it meant to me that I wasn't morally or intellectually challenged as I had convinced myself to be. Before I was just sure I was stupid and weak and a loser. Now I tell myself everyday I am just a normal human being with a disorder in my brain. I was only diagnosed a few months ago so am still letting it all settle. I guess I have not 100% come to terms with it all yet. One thing is certain; at least now I allow myself to like me and accept me for all that I am. And that is the best thing I have done in years :)

Natasha Tracy
August, 19 2010 at 10:58 am

Hi Crazy Mermaid,
Well, "crazy" is in your name, so you can't dislike it too much!
Of course, you're right, it gets tossed around all the time. It's just a word. Like nutbar or fruitcake or unhinged or wackadoo. I'm a user of words so I tend to see them as playthings and don't get too bent out of shape over it.
BFI isn't bad, the only thing is I'm allergic to TLAs (three-letter acronyms). I'm a techie which means I'm pretty much drowning in them already.
- Natasha

crazy mermaid
August, 19 2010 at 10:53 am

I like the term "brain function impairment" (bfi) to describe my bipolar disorder, rather than "mentally ill". I'm on the fence about "crazy", since I think it's tossed around more often than a Burger King hamburger. I think bfi conveys the point that you made, which is that it is a physical impairment of the brain just like Alzheimer's rather than an impairment of the mind. Physical rather than mental. Big difference.

complementary therapist
August, 13 2010 at 1:17 pm

complementary therapist...
Congratulations, you just earned yourself an entry in my feed reader, great blog....

Borderline Emo
July, 28 2010 at 12:40 pm

I hate "mental illness", "crazy", "psychosis", "sick" and everything else people call me. I have borderline personality disorder, but that isn't who I am. I am a lot of things and I don't want to be called a sickness. You wouldn't call someone with cancer "a cancer" would you?

July, 15 2010 at 6:58 pm challenged for me. sorry for spelling.

Natasha Tracy
July, 15 2010 at 4:02 pm

Hello Crazy,
Yes, that's why I say that I find it important to think of it as a "brain disease". I agree, it denotes its physical, rather than mental, nature. Which I feel is important and helpful, at least for me.
- Natasha

crazy mermaid
July, 15 2010 at 3:00 pm

My personal favorite, if I have to be pigeon-holed, is "Brain Function Impairment", which is more on the mark in my (humble) opinion. That brings it back to a physical rather than "mental" problem, under the same umbrella as Alzheimer's and all of those other illnesses affecting specific functioning of the brain like Traumatic Brain Injury. I actually did a blog on this concept. (See Article: Mental Illness Bad Press at

Natasha Tracy
June, 28 2010 at 10:54 am

Hi Mr. Bonkers. Thanks for dropping by and the compliment. I always like to get another person on the "crazy" side.

June, 28 2010 at 10:17 am

Thought provoking, which I like, and an excellent post. It made me smile and crazy is a good word to describe me.
Glad that I've found your blog, you have a refreshing way of saying things.

Natasha Tracy
June, 23 2010 at 5:07 am

this is a tough one for most people - myself included. Clearly bipolar is a part of Who I Am - it's too overwhelming a disease not for it to have an affect, but it's also clear that it's a brain disease and not created "by me". I suppose it has affected who I am but it is not me. If that's not too complicated.
Oh and anything that helps that you want to put on your wall is ok with me.
- Natasha

June, 22 2010 at 10:43 pm

At first, I rejected the idea of my mental illness really only being craziness, being a brain thing. I was convinced it was part of me. Unlike the flu, it didn't come from outside. But with much therapy (and loads of pharmaceutical help), I have realized that what you're saying is spot on. There is nothing wrong with ME. It's just my brain that's a bit screwy, not my mind and not the core of who I am. Whether I'm depressed or manic, or floating in that peaceful bit in-between, I'm still the same person. It's just my brain chemistry that's different.
P.S. I love the bit "There’s nothing wrong with me, Natasha, there is something wrong with my brain". I think I'll put that up on my wall.

Natasha Tracy
June, 21 2010 at 6:37 pm

And as if you're paying the bill. (Well, unfortunately, you are.) Client's definitely off the list.
- Natasha

Robert Watson
June, 21 2010 at 6:33 pm

crazy, sometimes paranoid, delusional, so on and so forth. I just can't stand being labeled a 'client'. Leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth, as if I actually signed up for something.

Roger Thompson
June, 18 2010 at 8:06 pm

I am not bipolar but I have bipolar disorder. The word "crazy" is just an abstraction. It's just a word used to describe how one chooses to characterize yourself. You ARE crazy; yet most of those types are brilliant. You ARE crazy; and yet most of those types are the ones who innovate. The crazy ones are the ones who change the world by inventing tools the normal ones figure out how to use 50 years later.
So what is crazy? It's a compliment. It's an abstraction. It's just a word.

June, 15 2010 at 11:45 pm

No offense, but in 36 years of life on this planet I've never met a "sane" person.

Natasha Tracy
June, 15 2010 at 4:03 pm

Well, seeing as everyone agrees with me on this, we should see if we can get "crazy" in the DSM. ;)

June, 15 2010 at 1:14 pm

i completely agree. everytime my therapist says something like, "it's not your fault that you have a mental illness" i cringe. i love her to death and she helps me SO much but for some reason that term smacks me in the face everytime and i get so upset. i feel like being "mentally ill" makes me lesser. like, oh poor baby, you're mentally ill. as for crazy, who isn't?? i'll take that label any day.

June, 15 2010 at 9:36 am

Once I was diagnosed, and began to get used to the idea that I had bipolar and I wasn't just some raging lunatic, I realized that I'd been right all along -- I WAS crazy!

Melissa Mashburn
June, 13 2010 at 6:45 pm

I prefer the word crazy. My daughter likes to tell people I am crazy and have papers to prove it (I spent a short time in a psych hospital) a saying she got from me.
However, I use mentally ill and mental health issues frequently in my blog posts because there are people who are offended by the word crazy and I do not want to offend them.
Normally, I am not big into political correctness, but seeing as I want to touch people in a positive way, I made the decision that in certain places and certain circumstances I would use caution when I speak.

June, 13 2010 at 7:44 am

I definitely use crazy to describe my past. Now that I'm over it, it doesn't seem to hurt to call it that anymore. I'm past it. Yeah, I was crazy. I also don't like the term mentally ill. Somehow mentally ill sounds like a killer. Just like psychotic is conflated with psychopath.

Natasha Tracy
June, 10 2010 at 5:27 am

I'm glad to see so many are responding positively at "crazy". Crazy Power!

June, 10 2010 at 4:27 am

I Prefer “Crazy” Over “Mentally Ill”---I completely agree. I know a lot of people have an issue with "crazy." I don't take a negative connotation from it. In fact, I use it as an adjective and a noun "I'm crazy" or "My crazy's acting up again.

June, 10 2010 at 12:48 am

I totaly agree with you too. I also have a problem with my brain. I wa dx Bipolar in 1999. I too dont mind being crazy. i also tell everyone Im crazy. My favorite saying is "I may be crazy but Im not stupid. Thank you for your story it was refreshing.

June, 9 2010 at 10:33 pm

That's right...I always consider myself crazy because I'm not normal, compared to others. But when it comes to being crazy in a negative way I tend to blame myself for what's going wrong sometimes....I should really blame my brain instead.

Natasha Tracy
June, 9 2010 at 7:36 pm

I'd say so. You B crazy. :)

June, 9 2010 at 7:32 pm

I totally agree! I take crazy as a compliment! "Gurrrl...your soooo crazy" when I say or do something outrageously funny. That's a good thing right?

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