Ellen DeGeneres has a great joke that goes something like this: “What’s with the sudden number of disorders? When I was a kid, we just had crazy people.” Well, Ellen, we still have crazy people. Below are three brief real life scenarios when I had to deal with crazy people (myself included).
Crazy Person 1
Last Saturday, I fell asleep on the 90 bus. When I woke up and walked to my transfer bus I was a little groggy and when I got home, I took my evening medication, among which is Ambien. Sometime later, I couldn’t remember if I had taken my Ambien; I must have been in what is known as an “Ambien blackout” or I must have had a simple “brain fart,” so I took one more dose. Soon even my thoughts were groggy, so I called a friend who told me to call poison control, which I did. The nurse on duty said I could do one of two things, either go to the emergency room or go to sleep (as my body was telling me to sleep and I was trying hard to stay awake).
I decided to take the less urgent of the two options and went to sleep, but a few moments later — after I was already deeply asleep — there was a pounding at the door (the next morning, I realized it was kicking, as there were black boot prints on the door, which I had to clean off with a soapy wet towel). I answered the door to find two EMT’s (one white woman and one black man) and an ambulance, ready to take me to the hospital. I was mortified! After answering a few questions, I asked them, “Do I look like someone that needs to go to the ER?” The male EMT said, “Frankly, no.” I thanked them and they left.
Knowing exactly who had called the emergency services, I called this “friend” and explained how humiliating the experience was, and said I couldn’t believe she went so far as to call 911 without even telling she would do such a thing. She began to cry and hung up on me, only to call back two minutes later, saying she had called the EMTs and they told her I didn’t let them in, after which she called the police. (By this point, I was no longer groggy; the shock had startled me to full consciousness.)
Later that evening, she texted me, accusing me of “abusing proscription drugs,” telling me to “seek professional help,” saying my mother should go to Al-Anon, and if not she was “irresponsible,” and alleging that it was “obvious” to her my sobriety date “had not come” and she wished me well with the “real thing.” The text was so cruel, especially her comments about my mother, whom she doesn’t know and whose chosen coping mechanisms are none of her business.
Crazy Person 2
The experience on Saturday reminded me of an experience I had about four years ago when I lived in a house with roommates. It was a Saturday morning, and I had slept in, right through three early morning phone calls from Arizona. One of my roommates woke me up by knocking on my door. Why? Because the police were here. I went downstairs, and they told me my mother was so worried that I didn’t answer the phone, she thought I was dead.
I called my mother and asked her if she had called DC police and she said no. After the police left, I checked voicemail and email only to find it was a friend, a former teacher, a woman in her late fifties, who had convinced herself that I was in dire states. I emailed her, and she wrote back, saying she couldn’t trust email because anyone could be pretending to be me.
The police came to my house four times that day, and each time I refused to call this woman, again shocked by her crazy behavior.
Crazy Person 3
One of my boyfriends broke up with me because I didn’t answer his call while I had been taking a shower. He left a voicemail and then sent a text message saying, “Why aren’t you answering the phone? Are you mad at me?” I texted him back by saying, “I was in the shower. Don’t jump to conclusions. Have you considered that I might actually be busy?” He texted back: “Have a nice life. Good-bye.” That was the last I heard from him.
Not So Crazy Conclusion
In fact, after each crazy encounter, I stopped talking to these people, so volatile were they and their behavior to my mental health and well-being. Perhaps I over-reacted to the ambulance showing up last Saturday night, but it was surprising, unexpected, and truly embarrassing (after all, I had just moved into this neighborhood). Surely, there’s no excuse for going so far as to call the police, after I had told one friend what the nurse at poison control had instructed, and after I sleep through a few early Saturday morning phone calls, is there? Also, I understand the first two reactions on the parts of my friends may have been made out an overzealous, even exhausted, concern for me, but their reactions may have also been made because my mental health had become a “project” for them.
I do not know the answers why my friends reacted the way they did, but I do know such reactions cause startling reactions in my working-so-hard-to-be-mentally-stable mind. This weekend, I asked a friend: Why do I attract crazy people? He answered, “Because you trust too easily.” He added, “That woman is off, and you’re off too. Two Offs don’t make an On.” He’s right. Here’s to finding more “On” and stable friends in my life and to being thankful for the many sturdy pillars of support I already have.