Friday, December 11, 2009

The Myth of Normal

Confession #1: I recently filled a prescription for Xanax in preparation for my holiday trip to my beloved home and Lone Star State. I love my family more than life itself and I love my friends who are there, but I gotta say that all that doesn't come with some stress. Some anxiety. And some times it even comes with just a little panic. Living far away from those who love you most can make it hard to return for that very reason. The pressure to see everyone, never being able to see everyone you want to see or everyone who wants to see you, never spending 'enough' time with them when you do. Always on the go. Normally I'd pack my running shoes and my Yoga mat to keep me centered. Breathing. But sadly this year I don't have that luxury. The mat and shoes have been collecting dust since September so when in doubt, Plan B.
Normal as defined by is Conforming with, adhering to, or constituting a norm, standard, pattern, level, or type; typical. That was the first out of over 30 definitions of the word. There's also something in there about complying with scientific principles and right angles... My eyes started to cross as I scanned the lists. Noun. Adjective. Math. Chemistry. Psychology. Who knew 'normal' could be applied to so many things on so many levels? And who cares? Apparently I do.
I recently read an article in Psychology Today - aptly titled 'What is Normal?' - and it got me thinking. It seems that the world is in constant search of finding its norm. It's standard pattern of behavior. Its conformity. If you don't conform to your current surroundings then you are dubbed 'abnormal'. But the same you in a different setting could be totally normal. Normal today but not tomorrow. And when we don't feel 'normal' we seek out that which makes us that way and try to fix it. There must always be a solution, a cure for what ails us. Be it mentally, emotionally, physically.
We live in a day and age where we as a society need a diagnosis to justify our abnormalities. Something, anything to say: Hey world, I know I'm not normal but it's not my fault! See? This is out of my control and there are others like me! Lots of others! Does that make me normal then?
Confession #2: As much as I like to say I don't give a damn, in reality, most of the time, I do. I recently got my first ever prescription for Xanax. Although I've had symptoms for years - as far back as junior high - it wasn't until recently that the doctor actually said the words 'anxiety disorder'. And when he did? I felt relieved. Ironically, I could breathe. I felt normal. Why? Because I know that lots of people go through the same thing. I'm not the only one and just knowing that that's what it was - even though it's been obvious for years - made me feel like I was in good company.
And the Xanax? It helps. It slows the heart rate. It creates a bit of a shield so even if I believe the plane will go down, really, I won't care that much. The thought of coming to Dallas and not seeing Grammie will still pierce me to the core, but it won't take my breath. I will distribute the sadness until it weighs evenly throughout my body and I will keep moving. And when a relative (I love you all so so much) makes a comment about 'leaving so soon' or 'wishing there was more time', my heart won't skip a beat. Yes, I'll care, but the comment won't wreck me. It will land on the top of my head like a little drop, and roll all the way down... It will land on the floor and I will leave it there. Check.

Welp, Merry Christmas ya'll.
Here's hoping Santa brings me a successful Plan B.