Do you think you're literally insane? Are people around you telling you you're insane?
If you're like me, you spent half your life thinking you belonged in a mental institute and the other half trying to figure out how to avoid ending up in one. You hyperventilate like a maniac, you lash out at "normal" people, you think suicide sounds like fun, you're a weird loner who wears trench coats and plays violent video games, and you might even be a cannibal. You're insane.
Have no fear, literally insane person! You're not alone. And I've got some tricks on how to not be literally insane, which are quite fool proof since I have seen them work.
1. Stop thinking you're insane.
Just stahp it. "Insane" isn't even a thing. It's a word people use do describe people who make them feel uncomfortable, just like "bigot," "creep," and "loser." "Insane" isn't your problem. It's theirs.
Now, you might have been diagnosed with a mental disorder. You might have a bipolar disorder, a borderline personality disorder, an attention-deficit disorder, a post-traumatic stress disorder, or severe anxiety and depression. Basically, your doctor has officially confirmed that you're an insane person.
Snap out of it. It's all relative.
Mental disorders are labels given to people with different kinds of emotional, mental, and hormonal imbalances. Labels can be practical when putting things in perspective. Nonetheless, we all have imbalances to varying degrees. The American Psychiatric Association serves as a judge of how much of it is functional and how much isn't. And since that sort of thing works on a spectrum, there is no definitive line between the person who will get diagnosed with a mental disorder and the person who won't. Simply put, psychiatrists gets to pick and choose how much imbalance counts as crazy and how much doesn't, based off their own subjective parameters of what is and isn't functional. Crazy, isn't it?
(By the way, guess who is making a shit ton of money right now off your "crazy" diagnosis. Guess.)
Think of it this way: if you happened to walk down McKinley Street in Detroit wearing a Zegna suit and Rolex watch, people there'd call you crazy. And understandably so. You're miserably non-functional for the environment you're in. And you're probably gonna get shot. But are you inherently crazy? Nope.
2. Seek structure.
Now that we've established mental disorders are often caused by imbalances, we need to find the antidote: balance!
There are lots of ways to find balance in your life. You might want to adopt a certain routine, habit, or lifestyle. For some, religion is the answer. Especially rigid religious sects such as the one I was raised in can provide a ton of structure and direction to your life, sometimes to the point that it alone may be enough to snap you out of your imbalanced cycle. I've still kept some old religious practices because they provide structure. For others, going back to school or enrolling in some kind of training program can do the trick. Being in school always gave me a sense of security because I felt like I had my schedule and learning plan set up for me for the next couple years. Working a salaried job, joining the army, or volunteering as part of a program can do similar tricks for you.
It could even be the littlest thing, like watering your plants every day, or calling your grandma every Wednesday, or showing up at the Farmer's Market every Thursday.
Staying idle will not bring balance into your life. It'll just make you stagnate with whatever imbalance you have and make it even worse.
Often, the goal is to not need to rely on external factors in order to remain balanced. You don't plan on staying in the army or grad school forever, do you? In any case, these tools can be incredibly helpful to lean on as you get your life straightened out, and they can help train you to create your own structure.
3. Take care of your body.
Exercise! Exercise! Exercise!!!
That shit is extremely effective. You can be having a panic attack and wanting to gauge your own eyes out before walking into the gym, and then after about an hour of cardio and strength-building, suddenly feel like Cleopatra. Exercising is a fool-proof way to regulate your body's imbalances and make you feel great for the long term, and the upside is that it'll make you look great too. Combine exercise with a structured exercise plan, and you've basically bought yourself a ticket to not-insane-land.
Sleep can turn your upside-down-day right-side-up. It's really hard to be a happy, balanced person without getting enough sleep. The reason I only wrote "sleep" twice is that too much sleep can work against you and make you fall out of your routine. I aim for about 8 hours of sleep every night.
Social food plans and diets are dumb. Nobody knows what foods make you happy and what foods don't. Figure out your own food plan. Personally, I try to stay away from pasta, bread, caffeine, and sugar because these foods make me restless and irritable and they never seem to satisfy me. But I still have them sometimes to reward myself for eating healthy.
Taking care of your body can include relaxing, meditating, getting a spa treatment or massage, doing yoga, and even just having fun at a party. Stay away from things that are addictive and make you feel like you're not in control when they wear off, such as alcohol, desperate hookups, smoking, and drugs.
4. Yes, prescription meds are DRUGS.
Now, I'm not telling you to quit your prescription meds cold turkey. That could be a disaster. I've seen how people get when they quit their meds cold turkey. Not good. And what's worse is that they spiral into such a downward hole that they become convinced that they're literally insane, instead of realizing that they're simply withdrawing from an extremely addictive and detrimental pharmaceutical substance.
The key is trying to slowly wean off these drugs by identifying the root of your symptoms and developing a plan to deal with them organically. I see a trained psychoanalyst every week, for instance. She analyzes my mood shifts and subconscious reflexes and helps me to recognize where they are coming from and how I can tackle them. You can see a trained therapist too, but you don't even have to. You can read books, watch seminars, go to group self-help sessions, or adopt a mentor or counselor. These are all helpful tools for training your mind to do the work you may rely on pharmaceutical drugs to do for you.
"But what about the people who really need it? What about people whose doctors tell them they need prescription meds ASAP? Are you telling them to not listen to their doctors? What kind of sick monster are you??"
Nobody really needs prescription meds. Prescription meds were designed as artificial substitutes for mental work and lifestyle changes that we're too lazy to take on. You can either change your entire lifestyle and exercise and see a therapist and volunteer and go to grad school and sleep 8 hours and eat healthy and work a job and read a book, for instance... or you can take Prozac. Voila.
The only difference between getting hooked on prescription drugs and recreational drugs is that prescription drugs are usually monitored and regulated by a health professional while recreational drugs aren't.
Both accomplish the same damage to your life: the damage of inhibiting your mind from progressing and developing under natural life circumstances and serving as a crutch while your imbalanced mind remains stagnant. (Not to mention the biological side effects and wear-and-tear on your body.)
Pain, suffering, trauma, body imbalances—that's all part of life. As creatures who thrive on learned behaviors and work, it's our job to adapt to our minds and bodies, learn how to live in a way that works with our relative imbalances, and thrive on them, instead of adopting and internalizing an APA label and living the rest of your life on crutches.
5. Stay away from people who make you feel literally insane... but learn to tolerate them.
Feelings are contagious. The way people make you feel reflects their worldview which reflects how they feel inside. Chances are, the person making you feel literally insane feels even more insane than you feel.
Why do you think humans love living in tribes? Because we need to stick to people who are just like us in order to not feel like crazies. And science proves that this makes for more balanced people. The problem arises when you've got a bubble of people around you who are just like yourself or think just like you do, and are suddenly confronted with someone who's neurologically different. (This is happening more than ever because of the internet.) What do you do to not feel like an insane person? You start calling them insane. And so, the cycle continues.
Remember, insanity is relative. If lifestyles or mentalities that work for other people aren't working for you and your mind struggles, then you may have to venture out of the box a little. You may have to try different angles to dealing with your problems. You're not literally insane. You're literally... different. Find people who share your likes and passions, but learn to thrive in a world where people are different than you, instead of closing yourself off.
In an era where everybody's lives and mentalities are so visible to each other due instant communication, that becomes both possible and necessary.