It appears, to me at least, a common theme that people with Mental Heath Illness are always asking “why can’t I be normal?”. I used paint to create the photo above taken from Dictionary.com and the definition of Normal as found on their website.
What is normal though? Does anyone really aspire to be considered normal?
Of course these are questions that only each individual can answer but lets take a look at the definitions and break them down a bit more, or at least try to!
conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural.
Is it me or is using the definition “not abnormal” just absurd! anyway back to the point
I choose not to conform to what is considered “standard” I am unique in my own way and I don’t want to be just a face in the crowd. Besides what is the standard these days? How can you define something as standard especially in the world in which we live with ever-changing trends and innovations.
Normal behaviour 20 years ago is considered not normal now so how can we try to achieve the unachievable? More importantly why would we want to?
Do I want to be considered normal because I send letters by hand and not by email? (for the record I don’t do that but it works as an example for this point!) Because before email became so accessible that was the “normal” way to communicate,
So who’s standard are we conforming to? Switch the tables around and tell me is someone abnormal for sending a letter? are they not normal for only having a landline telephone and not a mobile (cell) phone?
Even if we speed things up and arrive at the advent of social media. The norm was to be on MySpace but now it’s not the standard thing to do.
My point, badly made as it is, is that normal does not exist other than in our own minds because the standard we seek to conform to is ever-changing which means the rules are never the same. Rule breaking is also not considered normal so we all are screwed if we are aiming for normal.
This next definition really annoys me!
free from any mental disorder; sane.
Do you have idea of how many mental disorders there are currently recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO)
Have a guess! 5? 10? 20? Keep trying!
List of Mental Disorders recognised by WHO taken from Wikipedia
The photo above is a screenshot I took from Wikipedia of the list of Mental Disorders that are officially recognised. Click the Wikipedia link for the full-page and you will be surprised at the number.
With such a high number of recognised disorders surely that means that there is high percentage of people with Mental Illnesses and as such how we considered not normal because we are not “free from any mental disorder”.
According to the Mind website 1 in 6 people will suffer with depression at some stage of their lives so does that mean it is now normal? Does it conform to a standard as, with it being 1 in 6 people, that must mean everyone know someone with depression, even if they don’t really know about them having it. Imagine if everyone who suffered from a mental illness actually got the help they needed and went to their doctor for a diagnosis the 1 in 6 number would really be more like 1 in 4. I do not consider myself as abnormal for having depression and neither should anyone with a mental disorder think of themselves that way either when the truth is that so many people are in the same situation. Maybe that definition should be changed in the near future so that those who are considered sane are the abnormal ones!
Could you even try and build a description of normal and what you think it means to be that way?
Or does normal to you mean simply that you do not have a mental illness?
Everyone is different of course but I will not hide my depression from people. In fact it is something of a relief for me to tell people that I have depression. I am not “depressed Garry” I am “Garry with depression” and to me there is a difference between the two. I am happy to say I have depression because then I know that I have sought out help and received my diagnosis and that its not simply because I am a “miserable bastard” or faking an illness. If my leg was broken you would show me sympathy and talk about the wheres and hows of my injury. Why can you not be like that with me because I have depression?
I went to a training group last week with people from The elephant in the room community and this meant I was in a room with people who have mental illnesses and do you know what happened? nothing! not one thing other than a meeting of minds from people who want to help others! There was no petty squabbles no mad moose running around going mad just people being “normal” with a common goal. Here we have the point that because the dictionary says we are “abnormal” it doesn’t mean the reality is true!
What you and I consider as normal are completely different and that is fine with me. You carry on your path to seek normality and I will go my own merry way because I am Garry and normal does not fit with how I see myself.