A few years ago I went through a strange and distressing time when I was absolutely desperate for someone to tell me: “You’re not crazy.”1 Seriously, it was my keenest wish. Of course, I could’ve asked the people around me to tell me I was sane, but doesn’t having to ask defeat the purpose?
Now that I have the gift of hindsight, I realize the very people I wanted to comfort me were, predictably, the source of my bad place. Once I moved on, ended negative relationships, and surrounded myself with better people, the urge to confirm my sanity went away. With family and friends around who respected and loved me, I had an excess of unspoken confirmation of my value, and my mental health.
In my previous WiP I wrote about my main character’s favorite T-shirt. (This relates to the first paragraph, I swear. Stick with me!) It was a faded University of Hawaii shirt from when they were the Rainbows. It had holes in it and the character bought it at this vintage shop that I used to go to and I just loved it. It was what I always pictured the character wearing. So when I went on a trip to Hawaii I was talking to Bestie Danielle about my thrift store hunt for a University of Hawaii Rainbows T-shirt. She said, “Like in your book!”
And I cried.
It wasn’t said outright, but the implication was clear. By acknowledging she’d read my book and that silly little detail stuck with her, Danielle assured me I wasn’t crazy.
Then, just a few days ago, I got went to my mailbox after a long long absence and got a piece of mail from the crazy amazing Tracey Neithercott. Without knowing what to expect, I opened it and found a print of an orange Vespa, the exact scooter ridden and loved by a character in my current WiP. Instant tears. Tracey was telling me “You’re so not crazy.”
I’m at the very beginning of this process, so I can count the people who’ve read my work on fingers and toes. But what I’m learning is in publishing, I might never grow out of the “Am I crazy?” phase. You can only work to surround yourself with family and friends who will find ways to show that they, too, carry your strange worlds with them.
So I just want to say thank you to everyone who has in their own direct or roundabout, completely loving, generous ways confirmed but I’m not exact crazy, or if I and am, it’s exactly your brand of psychosis too.
- I was feeling neglected and manipulated by friendships, and a bit depressed, not actually concerned about a mental break. That is a real and serious concern some experience. If you’re having those feelings, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or try some of these resources. ↩