Normal is a Setting on a Washing Machine!

by Neseret on July 3, 2011

Day Lillies in our gardenWhat is normal anyway? How do you define normal?

To me mental health is a spectrum! The definition of spectrum is a condition that is not limited to a specific set of values but can vary infinitely within a continuum. Now that is more like what describes accurately the human family – unique and infinitely diverse.

People are so quick to label “crazy” anything different and anything that doesn’t fit in a nice, tidy little box. Just because your perception of reality is different from the next person doesn’t give you a right to judge them.  Why are people afraid of what is different? Why are human beings obsessed and quick to label?

The past five years I’ve worked with people from all walks of life affected by mental illness. They’re no different from anyone of us. They’re somebody’s mother, father, brother, sister, friend, and neighbour. They have dreams and goals. They feel pain, joy, sorrow just like you do.

When it comes to mental illness we all experience the range of feelings people experience at one point or another. What differs is the degree to which we experience it. Tell me, have you ever felt depressed? afraid? paranoid? elated? Most likely the answer is yes. We all do.

The truth is there is no such thing as “normal”. There is what is normal for you, but that is where normal ends. I believe our differences make us interesting. Understanding and accepting our differences is the basis of tolerance.

Comments such as “He is weird!”, “She is crazy!”…”They’re different!” and words like “crazy,” “cuckoo,” “psycho,” “wacko” and “nutso” are just a few examples of words that perpetuate the stigma of mental illness alive. These words belittle and insult people with mental illness.

I know many of us use these words without intending any harm. However you can tell when you and other people use them to mock someone. We wouldn’t mock someone for having a physical illness like cancer or heart disease, it is cruel to make fun of someone with a mental illness.

Ending stigma starts with you. You can decide to learn about mental health and mental illness. You can decide to get to know someone who is suffering from mental illness. Today you do not have to look too far to find someone dealing with mental health issues. There maybe someone in your own circle who is struggling. However many hide it even from those who are close to them because of fear of stigma.

You can use your words wisely. Be sensitive of people who are affected by mental illness. Don’t label, stereotype and belittle with your words. Be open and receptive to learning. Please take time now to pass this information forward to anyone who will benefit from it.

If you are someone who is affected by mental illness please share your comments below. What has been your experience with stigma? What do you believe will end stigma? What type of things have been helpful from others in making you feel respected? I’d love to hear your story.

Peace, Love & Gratitude,

Neseret

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Nelson Freed July 4, 2011 at 3:08 pm

“Normal” for each individual will always vary due to differing perceptions of each of us within our own mind. Thus as we each adhere to our comfort zone per se, we incorporate “normal.”Should a block arise, pause to release it in unabridged, non-judgrnental forgiveness. Only in this realm of surrender are we healed and brought to normal at our own point of comfort, alas not someone else’s.

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Neseret July 4, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Hi Nelson,

I couldn’t agree with you more. Normal is as varied as the number of people on the planet. We need to be open to the differences in our perceptions. Ultimately understanding and compassion is what heals.

Neseret,

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Milly July 4, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Hi Neseret,

Thank you for writing this. Mental illness is such an issue in today’s society, particularly among the youth of today, and I believe that one of the big things which is hindering society’s efforts to help and support people with mental illnesses is the attitude some people have towards mental illnesses.

While I do concede that in recent times, mental disorders have gotten more attention by media, and various organizations, there is still a lot of stigma, and misconceptions surrounding them, and it is this which we should try to combat.

I think if we are able to educate people about different mental illnesses, teach them to be more open-minded and accepting rather than judgmental, then we can make some progress. I think particularly, for someone who has just been diagnosed, then their family and friends should be educated on the illness so that those loved ones can do their best to support the person when they are in need. Simple things can mean a great deal, such as just listening to them, giving them a hug and letting them know that you’ll be there for them whenever they’re ready to talk.

Thank you again Neseret, for writing this wonderful post ♥
Warm regards,
Milly

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Neseret July 4, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Hi Milly,

You’re very welcome! I enjoy writing about mental health and raising awareness. It is a pleasure to meet someone like yourself who is young and very much aware. You’re doing wonderful job raising awareness. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts here. Thank you:-)

I agree with you in that as much as there has been some attention from the media about mental health. However the media does not always portray or really understand the issues that people affected by mental illness are facing. In the past I believe the media has done more damage than good when it comes to perpetuating misconceptions and stigma.
Often movies and news sensationalize stories and show individual’s affected by mental illness as violent or criminal.

What needs to happen today is for people to start talking about the issues. I believe a lot of people are open, especially the younger generation. Like you mentioned there are so many people who are affected it is just not something we can sweep under the rug. We have to deal with it. I believe change is on the way but we each have to do our part. Milly, thank you for doing your part.

Blessings and Peace,

Neseret

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shah July 4, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Love this post and glad I found you on F.B. I Liked you – tweeted you too. Your message is a simple one -but its implications to us who suffer mental health issues is huge. Shah .X

http://wordsinsync.blogspot.com/2011/07/monday-madness-linky-letter-of.html

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Neseret July 4, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Hi Shah,

Glad to have you here:-) Thank you for your comment and for passing this article forward. I believe people who suffer from mental health issues deserve as much understanding, support, and compassion as anyone else suffering from other illnesses. Change is on the way. Talking about it openly is the first step.

Blessings and Peace,

Neseret,

Reply

Nelson Freed July 4, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Hi Shah, The message conveyed is simple yet tactful and can be put to use in exercising good judgement in resourceful actions. There is no right or wrong. There just is. Much Love and Peace To All. Remember we are all warriors in the Light. Carry your torch high in victory! Nelson

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