Archive

Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

Why Do You Pretend To Be Normal?

May 29, 2019 16 comments

A fellow blogger – Stevie Turner – published a post on Monday about the odd phrases that people have entered into search engines as a result of which they have landed on her blog. Her post is called ‘WordPress Search Terms,’ and can be found here – as with all her posts, I recommend it. I’ve often marvelled at some of the weird and wonderful things people search for. In my case, I once wrote a post for Think About Sex Day – yes, it really does exist – which gave me the opportunity to use the word ‘sex’ in the post’s tags, giving rise (or not, ahem) to countless disappointed people since then. I commented on Stevie’s post that my all time favourite was someone who had found my blog by asking ‘why do you pretend to be normal?’ I’ve always hoped that wasn’t aimed specifically at me, but there is always that nagging doubt, isn’t there?

At first I said to Stevie that I hadn’t tried to answer the question, but then I dredged the depths of my memory and realised that I had, in a post from June 2013, entitled ‘Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal.’ The post was written in response to one of the old WordPress daily prompts, back in the days when a) they still did them, and b) they were sensible. As you can see from the conversation I had with Stevie on her post, she expressed an interest in seeing my earlier attempt so, on the basis that I was guaranteed at least one reader, I agreed to share it again. Here it is – I’ll drop back in again at the end for a postword:

—-

STRANGELY STRANGE BUT ODDLY NORMAL

Daily Prompt: The Normal

Today’s WordPress Daily Prompt asks ‘Is being “normal” — whatever that means to you — a good thing, or a bad thing? Neither?’

This is a subject I’ve been struggling to write about for quite a while – since I started blogging last autumn, in fact. I think what has held me back from this is a twofold fear: firstly, that I would look as if I was trying to be an eminent expert, which I’d never claim to be on anything; secondly, it could be pretty dull. But the prompt has persuaded me to do it, so here goes. This is a companion piece to my earlier post today on Men’s Health Week.

Pretending

How do we define what is normal? What standards/criteria do we judge it against? Do we mean ‘conforming to societal norms?’ If you have a mental illness, like my depression, does that mean you are abnormal? Or if you are physically disabled, does that mean you aren’t normal either? Is ‘normal’ something to want or aspire to anyway?

Seeking inspiration, I tried looking in the dictionary. It said:

NORMAL, adjective

1. conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural.

2. serving to establish a standard.

3. Psychology:

  • approximately average in any psychological trait, as intelligence, personality, or emotional adjustment.
  • free from any mental disorder; sane.

So there you have it. It’s a fair cop but society really is to blame for anyone who isn’t normal! I once asked someone on Twitter, now an ex-friend, to define normal and her off the cuff response was along the lines of ‘being or doing something that matches more than 50% of the population.’ That is, I guess, the societal norm approach. But why should you be considered abnormal if only 49% are like you? Where would – or could – you draw the line in such an assessment?

The reason we are no longer friends is that she decided I am an unpleasant, needy ‘attention whore,’ and that I am psychotic. And she said this in a very public way. Naturally, I strongly disagreed with this assessment but it makes my point for me: two people’s view of the same thing, or of each other, can be so different that the ability to define what is actually ‘normal’ must be subjective. In other words, it is different things to different people. To show how hard it can be to assess normality let’s consider her as an example. I know this is a cheap shot but I’ve waited six months for this so please indulge me briefly! Unless more than half the population has slept with over 200 people of both genders and posts pictures of their genitalia on the web to help them feel good about themselves, then by her own definition she is abnormal. And I’m pretty sure she deserves to be called an ‘attention whore’ far more than I do. But that’s just my assessment, and whilst those are true facts about her – unless she is a liar too – I’d imagine that she’d disagree with me. Not easy, is it?

Medication can be good for you!

Medication can be good for you!

Looking back at the dictionary definitions, I don’t really have any problem with the first two, which I see as being ‘situational’ definitions. But as you might expect I really cannot agree with the psychological view! Whilst those may be the standards used by clinicians to diagnose their patients, I don’t believe that people with depression or other mental illnesses are helped by being defined as ‘not normal’ in a social context. I function perfectly well in society. So do most others with this and similar illnesses. Of course, medication can be helpful in achieving that, but would anyone consider it wrong to take medication for an ongoing physical condition, such as diabetes? I think not. That ‘not normal’ description, taken out of context, fuels the beliefs and prejudices of people who don’t understand that there are different types of illnesses. It is a factor in creating the stigma that exist: having depression does not mean you are ‘psychotic.’ But it is easy for people to be led into believing otherwise in these days of mass consumption of mass media. Remember The Sun’s ‘Bonkers Bruno’ headline when Frank Bruno was admitted to a clinic suffering from a depressive illness? I rest my case!

As Men’s Health Week is just about to begin it is an appropriate time to ask, not just for men but for all those suffering depression or who are in some way not ‘free from mental disorder’: can we please stop being thought of as abnormal? Why should we or those who have a severe physical illness or disability be regarded as anything other than normal? Basically, that is an insult.

Ignore labels. I am me. You are you. We are us. We are all unique and special, in our own way. One thing you can do better than anyone else is …. be yourself. 

Who wants to be ‘normal’ anyway?”

———

And this is me today. The concept of normality isn’t something I think about every day, but that line about being yourself is the one that best sums it up for me. We each have our own version of what it means to be normal, and it provides us with the reference points by which we live our lives. Why should anyone define normality for us? As I said in the original piece, it is to some – possibly a large – extent a subjective matter. How we perceive ourself must impact on our view of others, mustn’t it? How could we possibly remove that from our reference framework?

A triple of footnotes:

1. Men’s Health Week is coming up again. This year it runs from 10 to 16 June. I’m intending to do a post about it – it’s about time I reintroduced my Dates To Note series.

2. Apologies for the little piece of revenge I exacted in the original piece. It wasn’t very noble of me, I know, but it was all true and I did feel better for it!

3. The title of that original was borrowed from a song: the opening track of Kip Of The Serenes, the 1968 debut album by the Irish hippy folk band Dr Strangely Strange. In case you were wondering 😉

Advertisements

To Sleep, Perchance To Dream – A Revisit

May 18, 2019 2 comments

In my last post I promised an update on my current circumstances, which I’m happy to say are improving. That post is still only part-written, however, and as this one popped up in my Timehop feed today – from four years ago – I thought it worth sharing in the meantime. As you will see, it is in itself a reworking of a 2013 post, but come on – how many of you were following and reading my blog back in 2015, let alone 2013?! I’m hoping that, for most of you, this will be the first time you’ve seen this.

I still have the sleep problems described in the post, and have been advised that the solution I was given for those isn’t helping my current physical illness. I think they call that ‘Catch 22!’

I’ll see you again soon, with the more detailed update I promised you. Take care until then – and beware conflicting medical advice!

Take It Easy

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “To Sleep, Perchance to Dream.” This invites us to write about sleep, which in theory occupies around a third of our lives. I say “in theory” because that assumes a regular 8 hours per night of sleep, which is something I went for many years without. At its worst, three years ago, I was actually referred to a hospital specialist in sleep as I was having such a  problem with it and they feared I may have been suffering from sleep apnoea. Fortunately I wasn’t! I wrote about this in January 2013, describing how I was and some of the things I had tried, in ever-increasing desperation, to find a way to sleep:

SLEEPLESS IN EPPING

Bad idea

When I started this blog it was to share with you my experience of depression, both going through it and getting over it. But as I’ve said…

View original post 1,319 more words

Categories: Thoughts

It’s STILL A Hard Life

May 5, 2019 Leave a comment

Part Two. Or is it Part Three?

I’m still in recovery mode, and am not yet really feeling up to writing something new. So I thought I’d share a post from this day a year ago, which itself was a reworking and updating of a piece from May 2016. Reading this again, I am struck by how little has changed. The British government is still totally clueless about implementing Brexit, and is demonstrating absolutely no plan to resolve the Irish border issue. Failure to do that could well result in the dismantling of the Good Friday Agreement, plunging Northern Ireland back to the bad days described by Nanci Griffith in the song which gave my original piece its title. And as for the Trump government, please don’t get me started! There is still much in our world today about which we should be fearful.

But maybe, just maybe, there are some hopeful signs. Here in the UK there has been a notable anti-Brexit shift, and a recent opinion survey reported that 61% would now vote against it, given what we know about its negative impacts for our country and for Europe as a whole, not to mention that the Leave campaign has been proven to have been based on lies and criminal behaviour. And in the USA, the youth movement has continued to grow in force, whilst the Democrats have retaken control of the House of Representatives, while the Mueller report indicated a good deal of criminal behaviour by Trump acolytes, no matter how much Numpty tries to spin it otherwise. Small hopes, I know, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a second referendum to finally bury the lunacy of Brexit, and for impeachment and criminal indictments for Trump. The world deserves both of these outcomes.

Take It Easy

Two years ago today I posted a piece which laid out my fears for the way our world was going. This specifically referenced the campaign which was then in full flow towards the UK referendum on membership of the European Union (EU), which took place on 23 June 2016, and the US presidential campaigning, which at that point looked very likely to endorse Donald Trump as the Republican candidate, as indeed happened. Thankfully, election campaigns here only last a month or so, unlike the many months the Americans have to endure – but there’s no guarantee that either of us will come out with a good result, regardless of how long it takes us to get there.

Reading this post again, I was struck by how my worst fears were now coming true. Our referendum became a mass vote of lemmings throwing the country off a cliff, and with only…

View original post 1,538 more words

Categories: Thoughts
%d bloggers like this: