Friday night I crashed your party
Saturday I said I'm sorry
Sunday came and trashed me out again
I was only having fun
Wasn't hurting any one
And we all enjoyed the weekend for a change
I've been stranded in the combat zone
I walked through Bedford Stay alone
Even rode my motorcycle in the rain
And you told me not to drive
But I made it home alive
So you said that only proves that I'm insane
You may be right
I may be crazy
But it just may be a lunatic your looking for
Turn out the light
Don,t try to save me
You may be wrong for all I know
But you may be right
Perhaps you recognize the lyrics to Billy Joel’s 1983 hit, “You May Be Right.” Perhaps you’ve even sung along a couple thousand times like I have. Look at the lyrics, though, and consider the possibility that what makes this song so very popular, even now among people who weren’t alive when it first hit the charts, is that it is inherently relatable. Even if we’re not all guilty of crashing an actual party, we know the emotions, and we recognize the cycle of destruction, apologizing, and then a repeat of the same action. This is a song about mental illness.
Why do we relate so much to this song? Because chances are pretty high a large number of us are just as “crazy” as Billy Joel. Mental illness is one of the biggest health issues in the world and we’re just now coming to grips with how seriously it affects all aspects of our lives. Consider a few quick statistics (emphasis are mine):
- Suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds and 16% among 25-44 year olds. Anxiety disorders affect 5% of the household population, causing mild to severe impairment. By age 40, about 50% of the population will have or have had a mental illness. Schizophrenia affects 1% of the Canadian population.
- One in 10 young people experienced a period of major depression. One in 25 Americans lived with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression. In 2014, about: One in five American adults experienced a mental health issue.
- Half of all mental health disorders show first signs before a person turns 14 years old, and three-quarters of mental health disorders begin before age 24. Unfortunately, less than 20% of children and adolescents with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need. 
- Mental illness and intellectual disability are not the same. Mental illness affects a person’s thinking, mood, and behavior, whereas those with an intellectual disability experience limitations in intellectual function and difficulties with certain skills.
- While there have been encouraging decreases in the rates of adults with mental health issues, those are offset by a significant increase in adult suicidal ideations (4.04%) and youth major depressive episodes (12.63%). 
Those numbers were easy enough to track down and verify. Some of them are a couple of years old and the general presumption is that conditions are not getting much better, especially among people under the age of 35. Let’s drill down a little more, though, and make this a bit personal.
A 2012 report provides the results of a Swedish study that tracked 1.2 million mental health patients and their relatives, all the way down to second cousins. To say that this study is thorough is a bit of an understatement. What they found is of concern to every creative person on the planet.
- Certain mental illness — bipolar disorder — is more prevalent in the entire group of people with artistic or scientific professions, such as dancers, researchers, photographers, and authors.
- Authors also specifically were more common among most of the other psychiatric diseases (including schizophrenia, depression, anxiety syndrome, and substance abuse) and were almost 50 percent more likely to commit suicide than the general population.
esearchersobserved that creative professions were more common in the relatives of patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anorexia nervosa and, to some extent, autism.
Are you comprehending what they’re saying here? If one is creative, not only are they more likely to have a mental illness, chances are pretty high a family member does as well. The challenge is real. Ignoring it is dangerous. Attempting to explain it away is stupid. We have to deal with this.
It is easy enough for someone to copy/paste the National Suicide Prevention Hotline into a social media post. Here it is if you don’t already have it on speed dial: 1-800-273-8255. I strongly encourage everyone to make sure they have that number in their cell phone contacts. One never knows when
We need to go further, though. We need to talk about this. We need to stop dismissing and shying away from discussions of mental illness. We need to normalize going to a mental health professional just like we’ve normalized going to the doctor.
This week’s images were created with this specific topic in mind. Cynthia, the model seen in these photos, bravely shared with me some of her own mental health challenges and how they’ve affected her life. Her story struck me as being very similar to a significant number of other models and creatives I know. Within our community, bipolar disorder, depression, and suicidal ideations are frighteningly common.
The photographs address the effects of mental illness on our lives by segmenting different parts of the photo. You see, while mental illness is a serious issue, it is often difficult to recognize in someone because over 90% of people with mental illness still get up every morning, go to work, hold down jobs, fulfill our responsibilities. Yet, on the inside, where no one can see, things are different. There is a separation between reality and perception. Perspective may be skewed, off-center, or blurred. The effects start small, difficult to notice, until, when left untreated, they eventually take over our entire picture.
Take a look (mouse or swipe over the image for navigation arrows). I have additional comments below the photos.
Looking through my Facebook feed at 4:00 AM this morning, there were three people posting about depression. Two posted about dealing with suicidal thoughts. There were two similar posts on Instagram. All from creatives. Friends, this is a problem we don’t dare ignore.
Let’s talk. You can leave a message in the comments below if you wish, toss me a message here or on any of my social media profiles. If you’re local to Indianapolis, know that while we can’t often rush to you, you’re welcome here. Someone’s always awake (seriously, it’s rare all of us are asleep at the same time) and we always have coffee. Before you make that dangerous decision, stop by and chat. We understand.
You may be right. I may be crazy. And I’m not the only one. There’s no reason to hide.