What’s the Difference Between Crazy and Upset? 

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You’ve had times when you wonder “Am I crazy or just upset?” and then you wish you knew how to figure out the answer. So many people experience the same question. Some of us know how to recognize one problem from the other. You will too, in about a minute.

Sometimes people have lost their connection with reality. Sometimes they can’t figure out what actually happened as compared to their misinterpretation of the voices in their head. A sense of unfounded paranoia (that someone is out to harm you) might mislead the people thinking that they’re being pursued or harmed when no such thing is happening. These people can’t make sense of their rapidly changing, conflicting moods, either. They can’t empathize with someone else’s problems, and they just might fantasize about events or phenomena that don’t seem harmful. In short, they can’t distinguish between fantasy and reality. Other people, on the other hand, know when their mind is wandering or playing tricks on them. Think of all those babysitter horror stories about disembodied hands striking people dead, and realizing that you fell for an urban legend or rumor. People who can differentiate between false and true, even if it takes time to do so. Those with mental health issues people would be involved in protecting themselves from the alleged hand, so to speak.

Let’s compare having mental health issues to being upset. Wondering which problem you have can be a genuinely confusing situation.

Upset people feel distressed, unhappy, scared, or worried. Heart palpitations and a sense of having your stomach or heart in some other location of your body can happen. But the effects of being upset don’t threaten the wellbeing of other people as dramatically as craziness can. Upset people yell too much and feel irritated far too easily. They have a problem with seeing things in perspective. Upset people experience problems falling or staying asleep, and they tend to lose focus or interest in things that usually interest them. A sense of justified or unjustified guilt might be involved when someone feels upset.

As the upset person, and sometimes the people interacting with them wonder, “Is this person crazy, acting crazy, or what?” Here’s your answer: the defining difference between merely upset and having mental health issues is that upset people are responding to something that happened or might happen. They can choose to adjust their response to the problem. Some people with mental health issues imagine their problems and can’t restrain their behavior.

All of us experience times when we respond with immaturity, selfishness, a sense of obsession, and so on. The common denominator with acting or feeling upset is the temporary nature of the problem. The upset person can stop behaving or feeling that way by choice. They can realize that their behavior is nonsensical. They can redirect their energies into productive thoughts and actions. We all have bad days. We all pray that people will not notice the problem, forget about the times that we fell apart, or at least not talk about those episodes of bad behavior. Upset people aren’t crazy, though they might conduct themselves with regrettable, distasteful, or legally problematic behavior.

When you want to improve on your reactions to feeling upset, do something relaxing such as reading a book that interests you, taking a soothing bath or shower, breathing deeply on purpose, or napping to restore your energy and sense of calm. Take a walk. Hike if you have to, or ride a bike. Smell something soothing such as aromatherapy oils. The idea is to change your environment inside and out, to allow yourself to calm down. You exchange stress for inner peace at will. There is no shame in reaching out to a therapist for help, you do not have to diagnose yourself.The stigma of mental health needs to be left behind and help asked for.We all deserve to receive care for all health issues win our lives,  both physical and mental .

If you believe that you or someone important to you has mental health issues and needs help, seek out a licensed, compassionate therapist who can work with the person. Mental health therapy can restore safety to a volatile, out of control person or situation.

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Yocheved Golani

Yocheved Golani is a popular writer whose byline has appeared worldwide in print and online. A certified Health Information Management professional, she is a member of Get Help Israel. Certified in Spiritual Chaplaincy (End of Life issues) and in counseling skills, her life coaching for ill people puts healthy perspective into a clients’ success plan for achieving desired goals.