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F**k Normal!

F**k Normal!

For the last few years, since I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (on the autism spectrum), I’ve become much more aware of mental, psychological, neurological, and emotional health issues. I’ve noticed the signs of depression in friends who I might have once thought were just“having a bad day”. I’ve spotted telltale indicators that someone else might, like me, be on the spectrum. I’ve come to look beyond the immediate to find the underlying causes—physiological or psychological—that alter people’s moods and behaviors. And in doing so, I’ve come to a simple conclusion: these abnormalities or aberrations are a lot more common than I realized! Here are some statistics from the World Health Organization:
  • Depression affects 300 million people around the globe each year—women more than men
  • Bipolar disorder affects roughly 60 million people
  • Schizophrenia affects close to 23 million people
  • Dementia affects close to 50 million people
  • In low- and middle-income countries, 76 to 85% of people with mental disorders receive no treatment. That number only drops to 35 to 50% in high-income countries.
These are just some quick-and-dirty facts pulled from ONE source. Some deeper digging would quickly prove my point: there are A LOT of people out there suffering from some sort of mental, emotional, psychological, or neurological condition that affects their wellbeing. One psychologist put it a way we can all understand: “In over forty years of clinical psychiatric practice I have not found anyone who is ‘normal’. Every person has skews in his or her personality. These run the gamut from mild to severe in degree. Large groups of normal people are not found.” I love that! Not because it means a lot of people are suffering as a result of issues they’re struggling with. No, what makes that an awesome statement is the fact that “normal” doesn’t really exist. There’s no baseline for us to aspire to, no “gold standard” of mental health that we can somehow fail to reach. Normal doesn’t exist, so f**k it! We need to stop trying to live up to some misguided idea of what “normal” is, and instead find the balance in our lives. As I’ve been living with Asperger’s Syndrome for the last few years, I’ve come to understand that I will never approach anything with the same range of emotions, feelings, thoughts, and opinions as my wife, my brothers, my sisters, my parents, my friends, or my kids. It’s just not going to happen. It’s taken me a while, and I still struggle with it, but I’ve tried to accept that. Tried to be okay with that fact, and to not let it stop me from doing it anyway. The more I realize there’s no such thing as “normal”, the easier it becomes to work on being the best version of me I can be. To find that balance in my life and my personality between all of the various elements that make up my personality. Stop worrying about being “normal” or not. F**k normal! It doesn’t exist, and the voices that tell you that you’re living up to that standard are 100% wrong. F**k normal, and anyone who tries to hold you up to some nonexistent standard. Instead, find your balance. Take your strengths and weaknesses, your neuroses and mental deficiencies, your dreams, thoughts, habits, and opinions, and find the healthy balance in your life. Balance will make you happy; “normal” will make you feel even worse because there’s no way you can live up to that imaginary standard.