Living “Crazy”

Artwork by Tess Bergman

Originally in The Stony Brook Press

To the two pre-med students on the bus:

I’m sorry you had no form of entertainment today — no interesting patient story to share with your pre-med friends. 

I’m sorry that no one was crazy enough for you and that you didn’t get to look on in amusement while someone struggled to stutter a sentence, 

while someone paces and mumbles incoherently, 

while someone speaks in no order and makes no sense, 

while someone picks their nail beds until they bleed, or their hair, or eyebrows, or digs at their flesh.

I’m so sorry that you had no patients with blood soaked in their clothes, and that there were no suicide attempts or self-harm injuries, no mania-induced decisions that led to the E.R. That you had no schizophrenic episodes or autistic meltdowns triggered by sensory overload.

I’m so sorry that us “crazy” ones didn’t relapse today and that we took our medications this morning. And that we woke up and actually got out of bed and that we kissed our children, or mothers, or significant others; we made coffee and got to work on time. 

I’m so sorry that we participated in life today and didn’t end up in the hospital on your gurney.

I’m so sorry that you weren’t able to analyze postpartum depression or multiple personality disorder. I’m sorry that you didn’t get to theorize about tics or panic attacks or rumination. 

Because with all those white tiles,

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15…

And the fluorescent lights that flicker even with my eyes shut,

The dim hum of the machinery matching my heartbeat that goes faster and faster,

The wailing child in room three. I wonder if he’s dying or was just born.

See, our minds are flooded. And I cannot focus. 

I’m sorry that all these thoughts get in my head and when I’m there I cannot focus on what I am there for. I’m sorry if I come off as “crazy,” I’m sorry that the way I sound might seem different than a “regular person.”

I’m sorry that you only had “regular” patients today and that you only had a “regular” Wednesday shift. 

I’m happy to hear that no one “crazy” was on your floor, though.

I’m happy that they didn’t have to hear your stares or feel your words. Because it’s our everyday: being “crazy.” 

We’re not some TV special that gets to come in your room and sit on your stretcher or your bed.

You don’t get to listen to our heartbeat and our thoughts and our fears. You don’t get to just read our condition in our medical sheets. You don’t get to just search through our files to find an answer.

Because it’s not something like “Grey’s Anatomy.” And you’re not one of the characters. And neither are we. 

I hope you grow in empathy and understanding. And that you can better yourself for when a real crazy son of a bitch is locked down on your stretcher and I hope you know what to do in that situation.

We’re not a walking textbook example to be analyzed and discussed. This is real life and every story is different. I’m not a sweeping generalization of Borderline Personality Disorder. I’m just Kat, me.

It may not be that deep to you. But for me, it’s a reminder that the scars on my flesh are deep enough, engraved on your reflection of me.

The moral of this story is: Don’t go into medical school if you’re insensitive and this is what it’s like living “crazy.”