I find that there are two types of blogs that I might read – the kind I stumble on after doing a search for a recipe using some obscure ingredients I found in my pantry or when I search for instructions on how to (insert the DYI project of your choice here). For that type of blog – I usually read the post dealing with the particular subject I am interested in at that moment. I might bookmark the page if I think the recipe or suggestions are worthwhile, but when I’m done…I’m done. I may never visit that blog again.
Then there are the blogs that I find endearing and sometimes hilarious, and I follow them religiously. Most often, these bloggers are great storytellers (and some are also great illustrators or photographers). They post fairly often, which means if I need a laugh at work or I just need to stop thinking about my life for a few minutes, I can count on a new story to keep me entertained. The one thing these bloggers all have in common is that they are flawed – they have some sort of mental “defect” and they are not shy in talking about it, the challenges they face, and the obstacles they overcome. As someone who has an ongoing fight with my own anxiety, depression, social unease, and more, I relate to these women. I admire the fact that, even though they have these issues, they address them with humor. And, when things are bad, they aren’t afraid to talk about it. They give voice to things that, for so long, I didn’t want to acknowledge, I was ashamed of, and I never talked about. In reading their stories, I feel less alone with my struggles…in fact, I feel (dare I say it?) NORMAL – for the first time in a long time!
I start to wonder – what IS normal? If there are so many of us that share these traits, perhaps depression, anxiety, and social nervousness is NORMAL…at least for us. Maybe our brain makeup and chemistry is NOT “abnormal” – maybe it is just DIFFERENT…and why does that have to be BAD? So many creative people have these “problems” – comedians like Jim Carrey and Drew Carey, entertainers like David Letterman and the late Johnny Carson, great writers like Charles Dickens. There are a host of actors, singers, writers, composers, painters and other public figures with depression and anxiety – and these are only those that actually TALK about it. How many more don’t say a word – ashamed or afraid of public reaction?
Now, I’m not saying that we should all just revel in the fact that we have these special brains and ignore the challenges that come along with them. I know that sometimes depression can be crippling and seem never-ending – to the point where you just want to give up. I don’t think it is fun to have anxiety that grabs at my stomach, ties it in knots, and makes me feel sick. I don’t like the fact that I pick at my skin when I’m nervous, to the point where I get scars and risk infection. I’m all for doing what you feel is right for YOU if and when the challenges that come along with our special brains seem too much. See a therapist, take medication, start exercising and losing weight – whatever seems to help or work for you! But is there ever a point where we just accept this is the way we are? If we are able to cope, if we’re not in that overwhelming depression, isn’t it OK just to…live? Why do we have to keep striving to be “normal” for the sake of being normal? Why do we allow others to make us feel like this is something temporary that we will “get over”?
I’ve come to the conclusion that I may never be happy in the traditional, long-term sense. I may always have that stab of anxiety or that cloud of worry from time to time. But I still have moments of happiness. I can have fun going for an occasional drink with my coworkers. I find enjoyment reading a book, watching a movie, or going for a hike. I can marvel at an incredible view or a new baby. I’m just so tired of trying to change, of being unsatisfied with my progress (or lack of) and with my life, of buying into the idea that there is “more” out there (more happiness, more love, more job satisfaction, etc, etc, etc). Is it wrong to just settle, be as content as I can, and just to LIVE?
PS – here are a couple of bloggers I have found that talk about our special brains in a way I can REALLY relate to (and they happen to be fun illustrators as well):