So Many Footsteps

Being a crazy woman is kind of a grand tradition. You can find us throughout history, getting locked away in attics and throwing ourselves into rivers. We’re frightening, yet also weak and pretty ineffectual. We’re generally overpowered, unless we’re the rare kind of angry crazy woman who murders everyone nearby.

We come in lots of stereotypes, depending on class and race and nationality, except for those of us who are invisible entirely. We can be played for comedy, drama, or horror; we’re flexible like that.

There can be advantages to this, especially if you happen to be a white, middle/upper class crazy lady: you get help. People notice the problem, because they’re already primed to see it. They’re used to the idea that you will need help – you always have, after all, helpless creature that you are. Except for the ones who hide it so well that they just fall right through the cracks. That happens too.

Then again, forcing “help” on women who don’t want it, who may not even need it, is a long tradition too. All women are a little bit crazy by nature, right? It’s not hard for people to see it everywhere, in everything we do. Activists of all kinds, women who were unhappy in stifling lives, women who just want to live as the people they are – they’ve been subjected to centuries of agonizing, soul-destroying, sometimes lethal “help.”

It’s a lot to take on when you’re handed a diagnosis. You might become invisible, just another crazy lady. You might find yourself under a glaring spotlight, being interrogated about every passing thought. You might be horrified to be lumped in with all the others, all the stereotypes. It can make you feel a little sick, this realization that for all your strangeness, you’re only meeting expectations. Or you might feel sick for the opposite reason: that for all your hard work, you can’t be what others want or need.

You’re not alone. But if that’s a comfort, or if it only makes things worse, I don’t know.

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