What happened to the crazies?

Have you ever wondered what happened to the few truly off-the-wall people you’ve met in your lifetime? The ones where you found yourself thinking they were due for a meltdown of epic proportions one of these days, and you just hoped you weren’t around when it happened?

I’m not talking about the folks who have a few problems, or have a variety of mental illness that’s controllable & livable. I’m talking about the ones you expect to someday read about in connection with a spectacular suicide, a horrid spate of killings, or the like.

When I worked at MIT, I once had a co-worker who fit into that bracket. My supervisor and I started treating him with kid gloves and trying to stay out of his way. My supervisor heard a tale that he had been stopped by campus security when he started screaming at some random woman he didn’t even know, saying apparently, “it’s your fault! It’s all your fault!” He was caught stealing a piece of equipment worth thousands of dollars from one of the labs, and even though he resigned after that, he was hired back by our boss, who saw him as the son he’d never had. One day he walked past my desk and, as I happened to click my mouse to go from one open program to another, he suddenly said, “You’re hiding something from me! You’re always hiding something from me!” and RAN off down the hall. I just stared after him with my jaw on the floor.

Not surprisingly, both my supervisor and I quickly got new jobs elsewhere. We both were of the opinion he was going to blow, and we didn’t want to be around when it happened. For the most part I don’t think about him, but every few years I wonder, what ever happened to him? Did he melt down, is he as weird as ever, or did he get some sort of help?

What’s your weirdest story of having to deal with such a person?

Posted in News & Musings Tagged with: ,
2 comments on “What happened to the crazies?
  1. Aaron says:

    He might have been a paranoid-type schizophrenic. Basically, a paranoid schizophrenic has trouble separating day-dreams from reality and, because he’s aware of being a very unusual person, perceives the world in a me-vs-them scenario. If he wasn’t good at reading non-verbal communication, like body language, that makes it even easier for him to become suspicious of everyone. Odds are, he was more a danger to himself, but you never know.

    The rabidly strange guy I knew ended up killing himself in the bathroom of the grocery store he worked at. He already had mental problems before he took to cocaine. He was always fidgeting and visibly uncomfortable.

    Unfortunately, we tend to assume that people like that have family or friends who will help them, but sometimes a stranger needs to offer a helping hand. There are plenty of people in the world who have never known genuine love… not even from their families. I knew a girl once who was raped by her own father; another by her grandfather.

  2. heather says:

    Aaron: I do hope he finally found some help, but I tell you, that was kind of a scary time, especially since I was just 20 and knew very little about mental illness at the time (had only just been diagnosed with bipolar at 18 myself).

    Ouch. Self-medicating with drugs almost always leads to tragedy.

    There are some people I’ve known who’ve needed help whom I think I’ve been able to help, and I’ve been very glad I did. But there were others where I had to admit that some people don’t want help, and they don’t think there’s anything wrong with them, and they’re just plain toxic to everyone around them. And that it’s just best to get away from them so they don’t drag you down with them. It might sound cold, but once you’ve been in that kind of soul-sucking situation, you eventually realize that it’s the only viable answer. I’m not talking things like depression or PTSD, but the borderline personality disorders, narcissists, etc.

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