The Crazy Ones

The Crazy Ones

By Kimberly Phinney

[Over the years, I’ve been blessed to counsel and mentor students who suffer from depression and anxiety. Terrified, I’ve made the phone call to stop a suicide. Humbled, I’ve been a shoulder to cry on… This, beyond teaching English and the arts, is my life’s work. It’s funny how God uses the places you’ve hurt the most in your own life to be the very places he uses to help the hurt go away for others. This blog post is for all the beautiful ones who aren’t mentally ill but mentally different. The more we speak up the less shame there is… If you are anxious or depressed, you are not alone. And trust me when I say this: IT GETS BETTER.] 

I have looked into the mirror—into black eyes robbed of identity—and have bent over to heave up every kind of sickness inside of me. I have woken to heart attacks of anxiety in the middle of the night like some ancestral ritual pulled to life by the moon. I have watched the scale venture toward double digits and sobbed. I have looked out the window and watched my will to live slip from my tired grasp and spiral on the wind like a tangled kite.

And then…

I have slapped a smile on my face with all the nuances of a trained actress. I have matched my wardrobe precisely and bent my arm to adorn this body of mine with dangling earrings, blush, and lipstick. I have clicked my heels with feigned ease and assurance and said every right thing you’ve come to expect from me. I have made you laugh. And hard. I have made you think and feel love. I have arranged words on pages and kept my promises. I have held you up. Or kissed your cheek.

And I have done all of this—the darkness, the madness, the infinite cycle of grief and passion—again and again.

I am what the world tells you is broken. I am the diagnosis hurled in doctor’s offices and whispered around corners… I am the statistics, the target audience for drug commercials, the object of your pity (or fear).  I am the anxiety and the unhinged depression.

I am the tortured artist you’ve read about and the daughter you will never truly know. I am the woman you’ve pegged as someone else entirely. I am the idea you once thought up in your head. And everything else that’s been projected, rejected, dejected, and dreamed.

I am crazy.

And yet.

And yet I am your neighbor. I am your friend. I am your teacher. I am dreams come to life and wishes gone untold. I am your sister, your advocate, your confidante. I am the over-comer and the truth-teller. The sensitive mind and the strong-willed heart.

And yet, I am still so much more.

WE are so much more than that.

Because I am YOU, the one that can’t speak up. I am YOU, the one suffocating in the pool of your secrets. I am YOU, the one who can’t seem to find a way to love yourself just yet.

WE are more than a diagnosis. More than the ugly jeers and social stigmata. WE are more than silence, more than fear, more than the shame that strangles our mouths and throats with filthy hands.

WE are the crazy ones, the beloved ones—full of madness and of light. And we will burn, burn, burn for a world that has forgotten how to understand our heaviness and our message. But we will be the torchbearers nonetheless—full of truth and of compassion and of love—until it all falls down around us.

Because we know deep inside our souls—whether we are ready to believe it or not—that it’s the crazy ones who change the way we see the world, and it’s the crazy ones that shatter the mold.

We, like Jack Kerouac wrote, “are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”

Our passions move masses.

Our words create worlds.

Our visions start movements.

Our wounds come from our power, our power from our wounds. And we shall not—WILL NOT—love ourselves less because we are the crazy ones.

Crazy is alive. Crazy is human. Crazy is love.

Crazy is what makes us beautiful and rare. We are the matchsticks for the fire of life.

It’s the crazy ones that change the world…

And it’s a crazy world, isn’t it?

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