Defining “normal”

I have recently come across many posts where sufferers write about how they long to be “normal”. In a few of my posts, and most recently, I too speak of that longing for a norm.
I guess what I truly long for is familiarity, because when I fell ill I also felt like I lost a huge chunk of myself to the illness.
You may feel like you are not a whole person anymore. You might be embarrassed or ashamed that you have an illness. It happened to me, as I’m sure it has happened to you. It isn’t your fault – it’s inevitable.
It leaves you wishing to be normal, but when you think about it, what really is “normal”?

Google defines normal as, ”conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected”.

Is there only one standard that Google, and society, is referring to?
What do YOU think of when I say normal?
Is normal being able to be active?
To have the freedom to study, travel and work?
Is it being illness free, or having an illness?
Agreeing with others, or voicing opinion?
To be heterosexual, transgender, gay or lesbian?
Is normal being married, single, in an open relationship?
To do the things we were once accustomed to doing?
Or do we each create our own idea of what is an acceptable norm, and what is unacceptable?

I know when in school, there’s the longing to be popular.
In cases of Body Image, people long to be skinnier. You rarely hear of someone saying, I wish I was heavier (although, I’m apart of that rarity as I’m sitting here right now wishing my body would put on weight rather than lose).
Perhaps in our case (the chronically ill), “normal” means “healthier” or “happier”.
I know that when I say that I want to be normal again, I really just want my health to return, and that familiarity I used to have every day.

I’m still finding it hard to adjust to this illness and how it has changed my life so quickly. I am unable to work, drive, and struggle to be independant like I used to. The illness has restricted me, and on some days it leaves me bedridden. I’m struggling to accept the fact that I am actually this sick. Sometimes I wake up and think that I can go back to work with the kids, or hop in my car to go for a drive… That obviously isn’t the case anymore.
Instead of accepting the fact that I have a new norm, I waste time worrying over the wrong steps I took to possibly get to this place, hating myself and I guess, trying to blame someone or something for changing what I was used to.
Maybe that’s the harsh reality of it all.
Maybe we are all meant to be different.
Maybe we are too afraid to accept change in ourselves and our lives.
Maybe we don’t like the fact that the change can be a disadvantage.

Maybe we are too proud to admit that we as humans, have flaws.

Maybe there really is no such thing as “normal”.

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51 comments

  1. After reading a comment on another blog I follow, I think I realized that in truth what we want is not to be ‘normal’, but to find ‘peace’. We had our sense of peace and security taken from us by our illness (or abuse, or whatever), and we now feel adrift, lost, uncomfortable in our own flesh and questioning our place in the world. We want back the sense of peace we once had, because happiness can’t happen without first finding peace.

    There is no ‘normal’; it’s a socially constructed illusion, and even if it was real, why would I want to be ‘ordinary’ or ‘usual’? I prefer to be ‘extraordinary’ instead! Different is good! Just give me back my sense of peace please.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. “Normal” is subjective and far from concrete. What was normal for me 10 years ago is different from what was normal for me 5 years ago, which is very different from what is normal to me now. Also, I’m pretty sure my version of normal has always been a little off from what most people consider normal, haha. I try to keep reminding myself to stop striving for normal because normal is always changing, and sometimes you just need to go with the flow until you reach the new normal!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with you. “Normal” is a relative and essentially contested concept. What is normal for me will be because of my social conditioning, and thus won’t be the same for someone else. As with people with mental illnesses tend to ascribe to “normal” as the times when they were healthy as the illness makes them feel abnormal and different due to the unfamiliarity of not having control over oneself.
    I guess none of us can really be normal nor be able to precisely define it, however we can try to be “healthy”. In the end everyone wishes to be comfortable and at peace with others and essentially with oneself.
    I wish you all the very best in this journey. Your post has given me a lot of food for thought. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  4. To me normal means to be healthy, to remember what it’s like not to be in pain 24/7 and actually have some energy. But then yesterday I saw my Dad who I rarely see and only on my better days and I got a sudden shooting pain and my sister who I live with said to him ‘this is normal, don’t worry, it will pass in a minute’
    Maybe it’s time I accept my new normal.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. There really isn’t such a thing as normal, more line the feeling of belonging as you described it. There are some characteristics people hold in common, and we try to string normality by unifying bits and pieces of people in groups for the sake of categorization. In the end everyone is unique and that value of being unique is represented through the ability of an individual to identify they are different from other people. Some may call them flaws, but that’s what makes us different from each other.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I agree with the many others who said there is no one version of “normal.” Our ideas of normal depend entirely on who we compare ourselves to. It’s a socially constructed idea.

    But the other thing I wanted to say is that it is the “abnormal” experiences that make up the unique story of your life. You will get better, Cassandra, in time, and then you will tell the story of this time in your life, how hard it was, and all the many lessons you learned from it. And it will have made you into a person who is deeply sensitive to other people’s suffering, a person who writes well from her frequent experience of writing a blog, and who knows what else it will have done to shape your character? That is not to say it’s a good thing, or that you should be grateful for it, because of course it’s not a good thing. It’s damn hard and unfair. But what I am saying is that the abnormality of it is part of what is making you a deep and interesting human being. And I think that’s true about all our abnormal experiences.

    I was thinking of you yesterday when a colleague told me about her son. At age 23, just two months away from graduating from college, he developed intense physical pain and almost completely lost his ability to walk. The doctors were stumped. He spent months undergoing painful and difficult medical tests. By the time they finally figured out that it was a complex and combined orthopedic and neurological problem, he was too weak and too depressed to go through surgery. The surgeon insisted that he go to a psychologist, counselor, and physical therapist for almost six months before they did the surgery. But they did find the problem, they did find a solution, and 13 months after he called him mom from a bus stop saying, “I can’t walk,” he resumed his life as a young independent adult, looking for a job. I hope this will be your outcome as well, that this will be a hard, “abnormal” experience but just a phase in your life that you will move on from.

    Thanks for your blog. It’s always so thoughtful! Sending you good wishes,
    Q.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. While I understand what you are saying, essentially, that accepting what is “now” I’m not ready to give up on “then” at least not yet. No matter what word used to describe it I long for at least a little bit of before.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’ve read a few of your post and praise you for finding a positive outlet for your struggles. Writing has done wonders for me. It is easy to hear the negative self talk when you are going through a low point and begin to think of it as being true or how things are going to be. It is during these times that we have to challenge those thoughts with positive talk. Learn to speak with yourself with empathy. If you were talking to a young kid going through what you were going through what would you tell them? How would you lift them up or encourage them? Think of those statements and literally speak them out loud to yourself. As silly as it sounds there is power in the tongue. This is a technique I learned in the “psych ward” and it really does wonders.

    Stay strong and keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read!
      Naturally, with the good days come the bad days. It’s nice to be able to write about it. I look back at the bad days, when I finally reach that good day, and can praise myself for making it through.
      I love that suggestion and will seek to use it! Again, thanks for reading (:
      xx

      Like

  9. I would like to be normal, not because I want to be average person, but because all the time my mind is guarding my feelings and thoughts to find any trace of coming depression or anxiety, because it’s easier to stop before full swing, and that’s exhausting. And every time I think that my emotions are “too much” (and doesn’t matter if it’s in good or bad way), I think “is this the way normal people think or is this my disorder? should I be worried?” and it’s frustrating, because I don’t know how normal people feel…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Have you read Veronika decides to die by Paulo Coelho? I read it a while ago, but I really remember enjoying it, especially when Veronika who is in a mental institution realises that it’s actually all the “normal” people who are mad ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is such a great post, because it highlights a feeling that I think most people who have had, or has, an illness can relate to! “Normal” is such a loaded word. It holds so much power!

    “Normality” was my ultimate goal throughout my worst struggles. Just going back to who and where I was before this chronic struggle took hold of me, and of everything I had loved about my life. But it was never about “normality” as Google describes it; about conformity and commonplace living. It was about my own personal norm. My own way of living life, that had been taken away from me.

    Before autoimmune disease, I hated the idea of “normality”. I flew around the world, chasing my dreams and trying to live as far away from “normal” as possible. I wanted to be anti-normal if you will. But just the way I learnt about missing home whilst being away, I soon learnt about missing “normality” when it was permanently taken away from me. The things I ran away from before, were easy to leave behind because they were there to be taken for granted.

    I still strive for the feeling of “normality”, but I define it differently. I define it as the freedom to make choices from a place of desire, not from a place of fear or pain. I spent years learning to choose differently again, and I’m still having to work on it from time to time.

    I suppose we, meaning people with chronic illness, define normality as a life without disease, pain, fear, struggle.. you name it. A life without whatever butted in and changed our freedom to choose.

    I use the word “normality” a lot on my blog, because it’s the exact word I strive to bring back. For myself, and for my readers.

    Thanks for a great post, a wonderful blog, and for sharing your journey so others can benefit from it! You’re awesome! ๐Ÿ™‚

    -Kristine x

    Like

    1. Thank you, my dear.
      You know how highly I think of your blog. You are very talented, and your followers must so as thankful as I to have stumbled across your page. I actually feared you got rid of the site altogether, as I struggled finding you… But then I did, and I was relieved!
      I cannot wait to see what you create next xx

      Like

  12. When I think of normal I think of waking up without any head pain at all; and having the occasional headache maybe from stress, a cold or flu… My headache literally never stops. It’s like the energizer bunny lol. It’s so constant I believe everyone’s walking around with a headache; though when I ask the majority say no lol.

    I think normal is being well enough to hold at least a part time job. That’s not possible for me. Some days I can barely make it to the bathroom.

    I think normal is canceling with family and friends 10 to 20 percent of the time rather than 80 to 90 which at the moment is my average.

    I think normal is being able to do the weekly, biweekly or monthly shopping; bath the dog; clean without having to lay down in between each chore – that’s if I can clean at all…

    But then there are millions of people just like me, so maybe we are our own special kind of normal. It’s just our “norm” is very uncomfortable for us. ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ˜‰

    – Skylar

    Like

  13. I feel incredible embarrass and ashamed of my illness, and I have told myself many a times “no woman will ever be interesting in you” and even keep away from friendship and other activities, which has cause a bubble of negative.
    Similar to you, I’m trying with my blog to feel better about myself.

    Like

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