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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116 thoughts on “When People Think You’re Crazy

  1. There seems to be an awful lot of angry people out there these days Susie. I suspect you did nothing more than get in the way of angry man. What a jerk.

    In terms of talking to myself, I think I do it occasionally, probably more than I realize!

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  2. I talk out loud to myself all the time. Doesn’t everybody? It’s called self-counseling. I’ve given myself some of the best advice I’ve ever had.

    As for your experience, sounds like you ran into one of those people who denigrate others to feel better about themselves. Sad to say, the world is well populated by them.

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    • Self-counseling!!! Right on, Al! Now I can tell Danny that’s what I’m doing when he asks, “What did you say?”Ha!
      I must have caught the Angry Man at the wrong time. Whoa. I’d hate to live with him!

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    • You’re so lucky! I think if I spent 40 hours a week at a job around others, I would be careful, but the freedom to yammer on while in the comfort of my home is way to much freedom for my open mouth.

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  3. I talk to myself constantly. It’s like I’m narrating my daily life. I sing out loud ALL the time too! I’ll make up these really elaborate songs and sing them like I’m on Broadway. “I’m making eggs! Some scrambled eggs!” I lived alone (with cats) for years, so maybe it’s a habit? I’m sure my cats thought I was nuts. But I have to tell you, I read somewhere (from a reliable source) that people who talk to themselves are highly intelligent. Not crazy. At least that’s what I tell myself…

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  4. I talk to myself ALL the time! I’ll mutter things to myself in my office and sometimes I’ll look up and catch the gal who sits in the cube just outside the door looking in, wondering to whom I’m speaking. HA! I think it’s totally normal 😉

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    • I’m so glad to hear that! I thought I was nuts, but it’s hard to control. It reinforces what I’m trying to remember or what I intend to do, as well as cursing out the motorist who cuts me off. Ha!

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  5. I would say if you can’t even talk out loud in your own home, then what’s the world coming to? Definitely, we are in 1984 or whatever that book on spying is called. I’m with you girl. Skiing much??

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  6. What a great pic! Like you, I talked to my babies non-stop knowing that they didn’t understand me, and they are pretty intelligent. 🙂 I am also a fan of saying things out loud. My study skills in high school and college consisted of me pretending I was teaching the information to others so that I would hear my voice and remember things, and it worked! I don’t talk to myself in public but I do hum 24/7. I don’t even know I’m humming but believe me, I’m humming. 🙂

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    • I took that picture of Courtney for one of my first posts. Thanks!
      That is such a great study tip! I hum too. You are so lucky to never mumble in public. I do it all the time especially when looking for my car… Ha!

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  7. A1: Yes, but without incident… unlike someone else who I know. 😉

    A2: No, but will add movie to my queue.

    A3: Yes, we have a neighbor who is a crazy woman who shouts words/obscenities at me/everyone. Quite unique, that one.

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  8. I always talk to myself, and I yell at computers a lot, but then I work in IT. LOL But really, I’m sure people think I’m crazy. I just don’t care. I’ve never claimed to be sane in the first place. 😉

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  9. I talk to myself all the time, but I try to go quiet when someone comes near. Still, I’ve never had someone be a total arse and stalk off like that. It’s a good thing you’re not me…I would’ve let off a string of profanities when he pulled that stunt.

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  10. I talk to myself, the cat, the dog, the laundry… I only get self-conscious when I’m outside where the neighbors can see me, or when I’m chatting away with the dog while walking him. But I figure with so many people wearing those cyborg-esque Bluetooth cell phones, maybe people will think I’m on a call.

    And I’m not too keen on the neighbors anyway, so if they think I’m crazy and steer clear of me, that’s fine with me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I LOVE it! That has occurred to me. I should just wear ear buds plugged into my phone all the time! I have heard a lot of other people who talk to themselves.
      The comments have been great. We’re not alone!

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  11. I don’t talk to myself a lot, though I do read my work out loud at least once. Sometimes we pick up things while reading aloud that we wouldn’t otherwise. But now I’m curious as to what set that guy off as well. Guess it’ll just be a mystery you’ll never be able to solve. 🙂

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    • Honestly, I don’t think he was angry over anything in particular. There was plenty of space in the aisle. If he was trying to get Jack’s attention, we didn’t see him. I think he was on something. You’re right. We’ll never know! Unless he reads my blog. Ha!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I talk to myself all the time. They, say it’s therapeutic. They, say it helps us work things out. They, say sometimes it is because people suffer multiple personality disorder. Where we might have trouble is when we answer ourselves—or so, They, say. But I’m willing to bet that the, They’s, answer themselves too. I never saw Blue Jasmine but I’m curious now. Never been verbally accosted by a crazy person either, however, I think that might be better than being physically accosted.

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  13. You’re not crazy – you’re a normal writer. I sometimes get a random thought that won’t uproot itself from my brain so I’ll ask a total stranger what they think about whatever it is I’m stuck thinking about. I get some really strange responses. I’ve also laughed out loud at someone at the store talking to themselves because I’ve been there and I know exactly what they’re doing.

    Most importantly, talking to yourself is most often the best way to get the answer or validation you need. After all, are you going to argue with yourself? Don’t answer that.

    Keep on keeping on.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I don’t talk to myself, honestly I think women do that more than men. Men have more of a tendency to just internalize everything until their top blows off – probably kind of like that guy you were dealing with. I do often read my posts out loud though, several times before posting. You’re right, its a good way to find mistakes.

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    • Ha! My husband is the same way and makes fun of me all the time. I didn’t realize how many others talk to themselves until I posted this. You should read the comments! There are some positive aspects to all that muttering!
      Yep. For some reason hearing the words helps, that and printing it out.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Since I began writing full-time I find most people leave me alone. I think the uncombed hair and three-day growth gives off a certain vibe that the innocents of the world want to avoid. I used to live in the NYC metro area and every time I went to the city it seems like a crazy person would know I was from Connecticut and go out of their way to accuse me of being terrible. I basically stopped noticing and when I was with co-workers they would ask about the person’s problem. I would answer, “Beats me.”

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  16. Some of my most intelligent conversations are between me and myself. Okay, I’m a little bit prejudiced, but . . . Even if there is something wrong with talking to oneself, are we writers supposed to be crazy to start with?

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  17. I don’t think your’e the crazy one. The man is grumpy and angry about something in his life. They come out of nowhere. Trick is to forget all about them immediately after the encounter and never question yourself. Talking to self is normal 🙂 Blue Jasmine was a fabulous movie and Cate was perfection. Hard to watch? yes.

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    • You are so right! I shook it off with the clerk at the register. And then when I realized I had been thinking aloud the whole time, it cracked me up! Posting this showed me how common it is. I looked it up after Darla’s comment. It is actually good for us to talk to ourselves. Yay!
      That movie was hard, but so good. I loved her sister and how she handled everything. I thought the ending was perfect.
      Thanks for stopping by!

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  18. I am always talking to myself. I love to do it when I’m driving my car, and I know that people see me from their cars or pedestrians from the sidewalks. I get so caught up in what I’m talking to myself about that I forget I’m out in public and will keep talking when I get out of my car and head into a store!

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  19. I do talk to myself all the time, I think it can help you process your thoughts if you verbalise them a little, like how it can help you process your thoughts if you bounce ideas off of someone else, but you’re just doing it with yourself instead? Like you say it, and hear what you said and think about it some more, even if you’re not aware you’re talking the words! Or maybe I’m just a bit nuts, who knows! Muahahaaaa!!! I haven’t seen that film. I can’t think of any particular examples right now, but I know I’ve had times with strangers where I’ve thought “What?!” unsure what has caused them to glare at me or whatever.

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    • Thanks Vanessa! If you read the comments, we are not alone! I’m so glad I posted this. Now I am going to let my babbling flag fly. Darla said it was good for us, so I looked it up. She’s right!
      The movie is on the dark side, but it is really good! Jasmine takes babbling to herself to a whole new level. Ha!

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    • 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.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. 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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    • 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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  21. 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

    • 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

  22. 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!”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 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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    • 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

  23. 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

    • 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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    • 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

  24. 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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  25. 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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    • 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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  26. 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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    • 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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      • 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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        • 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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  27. 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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  28. 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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  29. 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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  30. Pingback: When People Think You’re Crazy | Gastronomic

  31. 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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  32. 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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  33. Pingback: THINK BIG! | Susie Lindau's Wild Ride

  34. 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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    • 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

  35. 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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    • 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

  36. Pingback: What Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher taught me last Friday | Susie Lindau's Wild Ride

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