When People Think You’re Crazy

You’ve seen them, disheveled and disoriented people who mutter or sometimes curse at no one in particular. They are upset by others, both invisible and only seen in their mind. Their conversation may have taken place years ago only to be acted out again and again.

I talk to myself all the time. I blame my kids. When they were babies, I talked to them all the time even though they probably didn’t understand much of what I said. I had read an article claiming this would improve their intelligence. I remember taking them to the store and asking them what kind of baby food they would like to eat or which tampons I should buy. I got all kinds of amused looks from strangers who thought I was out of my mind. Although I looked like a fool, my kids grew up to be very intelligent adults. People think you're crazy

When I became a writer, I discovered reading what I had written aloud helped me find errors and create realistic conversation. It works! I don’t think I had completely gotten out of the habit of talking to myself, so writing compounded the issue.

I would catch myself muttering, “Where’s my car?” in the parking lot, or “Man, this is way too much laundry,” or “Oh, my God. This line is going to take forever,” while waiting at Costco.

In the movie, Blue Jasmine, Cate Blanchett nails the role of an unstable woman who lives out her socialite lifestyle in her imagination. She takes talking to yourself to a whole new level. I realize there is a big difference between saying your thoughts out loud and being in an altered state of mind. I loved that movie, but it made me more conscious of my occasional habit.

Last winter, I drove to King Soopers grocery store late in the day. I ran into my friend, Jack, who works in the produce department. We chatted until I sensed that I had taken up enough of his time, yammering on about the weather and the price of beans.

I said goodbye and pushed my cart forward. Someone to my right muttered something unintelligible. My cart hadn’t bumped into to anyone, but I said, “Sorry,” just in case I had impeded their progress between the bins of potatoes and the mushroom display.

As I continued toward the bakery, a middle-aged man dressed in a sweater and collared shirt turned and directed his hatred with a seething look that shot me right between the eyes. My cheeks flushed with heat. I couldn’t understand what I did. I reacted the way I always do. “I’m sorry.” I looked around. I hadn’t blocked the aisle. I hadn’t bumped into anyone. I didn’t say anything outrageous or offensive. We were talking beans.

Then I made a big mistake. “I’m really sorry, but what did I do?”

He turned to face me and said, “You are unbelievable!”

As he stormed away, I shouted, “What did I do?” Other shoppers shook their heads and shrugged.

I had made a scene.

Shaking, I made my way through the bakery. The aisles swam. What the hell was that all about? He was such a dick. He must be crazy.

I walked back to produce. The Angry Man had passed behind me, so Jack would have seen him. I told him what happened, but Jack didn’t see him. He was very concerned. “He might be dangerous. Do you want me to walk you to your car?”

It was dark outside, but I told him I wasn’t afraid of the Angry Man.

While shopping for about half the items I needed, I continued to ruminate over what had happened. Then I pushed my cart to the check stand and told the clerk about the confrontation.

“I bet if we could look at your security cameras, we could figure out what set him off.” I said. Then I thought for a moment. I gasped and laughed.

“What’s so funny?” asked the clerk.

“I just realized that if you checked your security cameras, I would look like the crazy maniac. I’ve been thinking out loud since it happened.”

She giggled and assured me that everyone talks to themselves these days.

I drove home and reassessed my habit. The problem is, I write for so many hours every day. I read my comments, drafts of blog posts and my book all out loud. It definitely reinforces this terrible habit. I’ve reread this post several times out loud already.

This was a turning point for me.

If I catch myself thinking with my mouth open, I stop. It has worked for the most part, but according to my family, I still have a long way to go. In the meantime, I’m working on lowering my muttering to a whisper especially when I’m in the grocery store.

Do you talk to yourself? Did you see the movie, Blue Jasmine? Have you ever been verbally accosted by a crazy person? 

 

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118 thoughts on “When People Think You’re Crazy

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    1. Hahaha! I cursed out loud and then talked to myself in an office furniture store to the chagrin of a few people. I was competing in Pitch Madness on Twitter. Friends kept “liking” my logline tweets, (reserved for agents and editors) and would give me a heart attack. I’d be like, Woohoo! Oh, ****… Ha! I was really embarrassed.

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  1. Do you talk to yourself? Yes I do! Have you ever been verbally accosted by a crazy person? Yes I have and it is not a pleasant experience! My worst habit is cursing out loud while in public – I know shame on me – working on changing this really bad habit by learning to have more patience. My spouse gets on me in how I act in public spaces and I really enjoy when the tables are turned and he does something inappropriate in public – not so easy, right – ha! The best is when I blame the flooring or furniture for tripping me up and say it out loud – some people give you the strangest looks as well as a wide berth. I needed a good chuckle today – thanks 🙂 Happy Day – Enjoy!

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    1. Ha! I love the blame game, but I can’t wait for Danny. He’ll never swear in public. Sometimes “words” just slip out…
      Almost everyone has shared some kind of story about talking to themselves. The comments have been great!
      Thanks, Renee!

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  2. Haha I can’t tell you how much this post resonates with me! I don’t speak out loud to myself as much as I, what my family and friends refer to as, ‘think with my face.’ If I’m not talking out loud to another human being, I’m probably chatting away to someone in my head – I’ve been known to stick earphones in when I’m listening to nothing, so that if anyone catches me laughing or rolling my eyes they might vaguely assume I’m listening to some great podcast!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, that is so funny! You sound expressive. You should do a video of one of your “mimed” conversations. I love the idea of earphones and should plug them in whenever I’m out publicly! 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t think I ever stop talking to myself. Like you, I read aloud things I write to hear how it sounds. I am huge on chastising myself out loud when I do something stupid and even call myself by a nickname (that’s really weird isn’t it). Perhaps this is TMI. “Yes, Mishka! WayTMI!”.

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    1. Mishka! I LOVE IT!!! I chastise myself too. That is the worst habit of all! I’m really trying to calm down on that. I’m talking to myself even more after writing this post. Everyone does!

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    1. That is so great. I heard in the comments that it’s a writer thing. My husband never mumbles a word to himself. I think he was surprised by this huge response in the comments. Almost everyone talks to themselves!
      Yep. That guy was a dickhead…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Well, certainly I talk to myself, darlin’ girl. Sometimes it’s the most intelligent conversation of the week. As for crazy…, I really don’t care if people think I’m as wacko as a doodle duck, as long as they mind their own business and let me mind mine. Crazy is mostly a sense of perception, anyway. Good night Badger Girl ! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For me, talking to myself can be comforting, unless I’m chewing myself out. Ha!
      I like your perspective on perspective. That is a good way to look at it. Thanks for stopping by, Paul!

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    1. Ha! That is true. I’ve kidded around with myself that way and I have told myself to snap out of negative thinking. It’s all good.
      If you read the comments, almost everyone talks to themselves! My husband never does and makes fun of me all the time, hence the post. I feel so much better now and plan to babble on….

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I know! I did NOT whisper either and I threw in a few curse words, I’m sure! It was a wake up call for me. After posting this, I realize it’s totally normal, but I am watching how much I say when I’m out in public. 🙂
    I loved that movie! It was uncomfortable, but Woody Allen did a great job of making a total narcissist, bi-polar and possible schizophrenic, vulnerable enough to feel compassion for her.
    Thanks, Lisa! It’s always great to “see” you!

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  6. My talking-to-self tendency has really picked up steam in the last few years, so I can really see what a slippery slope this innocent habit can assume. Good reminder to be more aware before I’M that disheveled woman with the shopping cart, shaking her fist at strangers on the street.

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    1. I think I’ve always had a tendency to talk to myself. I just notice that it is spilling out into the public arena more often.
      Yep, only shake that fist while in the grocery store and you’ll be okay.
      I couldn’t believe the response to this. Danny makes fun of me all the time which made me think I was crazy, but nearly everyone who commented not only thinks out loud, but is aware of it’s positive reinforcement. I feel so much better now.
      Babble on, Peg!

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  7. In addition to my writing I also spend a lot of time rehearsing lines for theater and talking out bits for stand-up comedy. I need to hear how my writing sounds out loud. I do it a fair amount at home but it’s much worse when traveling because I can’t bounce ideas off my wife and kids. I just start talking all the time no matter where I am. I often don’t know I’m doing it. It just occurred to me that I’m doing it right now while writing this comment. Is this how insanity starts? Do the people we consider ‘insane’ have a conscious moment when it occurs to them that they are slipping into habits that might seem insane to others?

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    1. That’s exactly what I wondered and why I wrote this post. If you look at the comments, almost everyone talks to themselves. I learned that not only is it normal, especially for writer, but it is good for you. I’ve actually been trying to talk when I write a lot more often since posting this, although I’ll still be careful in public. Sometimes I have no control. Ha! Babble on, Paul!

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      1. I definitely brainstorm differently and more efficiently out loud than on paper. I keep a voice recorder in my pocket and may tell a joke five different times throughout the day before I come up with something I like. I sometimes do storytelling events and I have a lot of writer friends who struggle to write out the story, and I tell them to first tell me the story and record it, and try writing it later.

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        1. That’s cool. I started writing my new book that way. I would get an idea while driving and record the chapter. It works! Later, I would copy and paste it into my document. We are vocal thinkers. I bet there’s some research about that.

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  8. Blue Jasmine was a masterpiece of filmmaking. Loved it. I’ll have to watch it again one day soon.
    I don’t talk out loud but I have a constant narration running through my head anytime I don’t have my nose in a book. Talking to yourself is a sign of great creativity and mental astuteness so while you might want to lower the volume, don’t hit the mute button. Please. *grin*

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    1. Ha! That’s what I’m hearing! I am working on keeping my volume down, but around the house and especially when writing, I am babbling more than ever!
      I was just thinking about you! Ha! It’s always great to “see” you.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Funny…I used to feel guilty if someone caught me talking to myself, with hand gestures, and actually answering for the absent person I was talking to. But now, I just pretend I’m on my phone.

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  10. Hahaha blue jasmine. I love woody Allen movies! And yes i talk to myself. And then i pray conversationally and look like I’m taking to myself. Thank God i live alone lol.

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  11. My brother lives alone now, and he has taken to talking to himself. But what is really funny is when he comes to my house and has to use the bathroom. I can hear him muttering in there, I try not to listen too closely. I’m not sure I want to know what he’s saying. 🙂

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  12. Yep, I talk to myself a lot. It doesn’t help that I’m alone for most of the day now so I jibber about all sorts of things. But like you, even when I’m out and about, I mutter and say things to myself as I’m out shopping. It clarifies things in my mind. Sometimes people give me funny looks then I usually tone it down. Great post Susie and somehow comforting. At least I know I’m not alone. 🙂

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  13. I’ve been trying to break the habit too! I’ve been told that it’s a sign of intelligence, but it sure doesn’t seem to make a good impression. When I catch myself, I stop and repeat what I just said in my head so I can continue my internal dialogue internally!

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    1. There you go! I have taken to whispering, most of the time. Ha! Through the comments I learned there has been a lot of research done on the topic. Thinking out loud is good for us and reinforces the thought. I just need to make sure they are positive!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Did you ever figure out why that man was so angry with you? I’d be wondering for a long time! That thought of not knowing would be nagging away…

    I’ve had that habit of talking to myself for a long time..sometimes in my head, sometimes out loud. Sometimes internal conflict between what;s in my head and what I say out.It’s more that way. :p I also discovered that the kids listen better when I mutter! LOL.

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    1. The fact that you benefit from your muttering is fantastic! It’s supposed to be good for you, according to many commenters.
      I never did find out why the guy went ballistic on me. I think he was on something. Weird! Good thing I don’t remember what he looks like. I’ve probably seen him in the store since that fateful day. Ha!
      Thanks for reading!

      Like

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