How Am I Supposed to Stop Being Crazy?

Dear GoodTherapy.org,

So I know “crazy” isn’t an acceptable term these days, but it’s a term I genuinely identify with, since I don’t know what’s wrong with me and find myself making decisions and doing things even I would say are crazy. I often experience irrational hatred toward people I barely know, especially if I want something they have or think they’re extremely attractive. I’ll obsessively text an ex after we break up, or I’ll pick a fight with a friend for no apparent reason. And then I have this brain-fog feeling afterward and can’t help wonder if it was really me who did those things. I remember it all and feel guilty and cry … and then keep doing similar things!

I feel like I leave the destruction of a tornado in my path. My friends, though they seem to stick around, have called me crazy, and we joke about how I’m the “hot mess” type. But they keep me at arm’s length, and deep down I know they’re right to do so. Things aren’t adding up in my own head. I don’t want to be manipulative and passive-aggressive, and I don’t want to act so irrationally and keep driving people away. Help? —Still Crazy After All These Tears

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Dear Tears,

Well, I see you have kept a sense of humor. And you have a circle of loyal friends, too. You understand and agree with how they see you, and how they protect themselves by “keeping you at arm’s length.” All of these are strengths you should be proud of.

Nevertheless, you’re puzzled by your behavior, which you say leaves “the destruction of a tornado.” You describe yourself as angry, obsessive, manipulative, passive-aggressive, and hating in some instances. You say your actions “don’t add up” and are irrational. You describe a “brain-fog” feeling that makes you doubt if it was really you “who did these things.” Then you remember it all, “feel guilty, and cry.” You think you are crazy, even though you feel the word “crazy” is unacceptable.

I think you have made a wise and courageous first step by writing in to ask this question. Now it’s time for the next step, to consult with a therapist in person. That can feel a lot scarier than writing, but you will get a more valid opinion from someone you see in person and can talk with. Why not consult a mental health professional and see what that person thinks? Do you have a medical doctor? Perhaps there is a physical problem causing you distress. That can be a good place to start. Without more information from you, it would be inappropriate for me to speculate as to what might be going on beneath the surface.

I think you have made a wise and courageous first step by writing in to ask this question. Now it’s time for the next step, to consult with a therapist in person.

Check your resources. Are you involved with a religious leader who might refer you to someone who can help? Is there a school near where you live that might have a referral service? Who might help? You might see a professional such as a social worker, psychologist, psychotherapist, or psychiatrist.

What is it like to see a mental health worker? Typically, you will call for an appointment, meet with the therapist, explain your concern, and answer questions about yourself—the kinds of questions, actually, you are already asking yourself, as I can see from your letter. You can also ask questions of the therapist, such as what might be the problem, how long does it take to work on this, what happens next, have you worked with someone like me in the past, how did that go, and what do you think?

Just as the therapist is getting to know you, remember that you, too, are getting to know the therapist, and your opinion matters. Do you feel comfortable, even though you might feel nervous? Do you find the therapist likable? Do you think you will feel more at ease to speak freely after a getting-to-know-you period?

Thank you so much for writing in and asking this question. When people ask questions, they open up the world for themselves and for others.

Take care and good luck,

Lynn

Lynn Somerstein, PhD, NCPsyA, C-IAYT is a Manhattan-based, licensed psychotherapist with more than 30 years in private practice. She is also a yoga teacher and student of Ayuveda—the Indian science of wellness. Her main interest is in helping people find healthy ways of living, loving, and working in the particular combination that works best for them, connecting to their deepest energic source so their full range of abilities can be expressed. Lynn's specialty is understanding and alleviating anxiety and depression.
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  • Jonny

    July 8th, 2016 at 1:19 PM

    I find it pretty courageous too! I don’t know that I would ever have the ability to just put it all out there like you did, so I think that you are on the right track by seeing that there are some things there that you would like to change in yourself.

  • Mallory

    July 9th, 2016 at 8:43 AM

    You need to stop thinking of yourself in such a negative light right now.

  • brett

    July 11th, 2016 at 2:38 PM

    Have you always been like this, very easy to set off, or is there something else that could be going on that is triggering this behavior?

  • Jeremiah

    July 12th, 2016 at 1:55 PM

    You are being very honest and forthright about how you are feeling. I think that it might be a good idea to talk to friends and family and see if they see some of the same things that you do, and if they do then why not talk to your medical doctor about getting a referral to someone who could help you out with some of these things that you are feeling? They are probably not going to go away on their own but by talking to someone then maybe this could help you begin to work out some of these things that you are feeling and then act out on.

  • Deb

    May 10th, 2018 at 11:56 AM

    When people are down I want to kick them in their knees. Then when I see some random object I think it is mine or money or what ever its all mine. I guess I’ve been like that my whole life from my mohters point of view.

  • Lynn Somerstein

    May 10th, 2018 at 12:08 PM

    That’s your mother’s point of view. What is your point of view?
    Take care, thanks for writing,
    Lynn

  • Amy

    June 7th, 2022 at 2:56 PM

    This question hit too close to home. I’ve been in therapy for 5 years now, and I’m STILL a hurricane (which is what I call it lol)… Severe and prolonged childhood trauma, I’m guessing, or at least that’s the case for me. I think the question I really want to go along with this though, is how do you get people to understand? I’ve been trying to fix my broken brain for years, but it’s so much work and I’m so exhausted with the relationships I destroy and starting over and over again. It feels like I’m starting from square one every time, and in a way I am, because it adds additional trauma to process. I really don’t blame them. Any time I get close to someone I push HARD and what I call “The little psycho inside” comes out and no one can handle it, and I’m alone again and again. I don’t mean to be this way. I don’t want to hurt people. I want to be a good person. I want to be able to build lasting relationships and to believe someone really cares, but I’m broken. I’m trying so hard to break down these brain connections built on trauma so I can grow and learn in a safe and healthy environment, but every time I start to do a little better, or feel a little hope… Something happens and my world ends all over again. If I could just make people understand I don’t mean it. Make them understand that it isn’t me. Make them see that I only act that way with people I love TOO much. If I could get them to see then maybe this would stop happening. Maybe people who mean the world to me wouldn’t leave… Love is not an emotion I’ve ever understood. My mind won’t just simply let me believe in love. I just don’t want to end up broken, alone, full of guilt, and lost all over again, but it seems like it’s just a matter of time. How do you make them stay?

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