Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal. ~ Albert Camus

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What is Normal? When you have a chronic illness such as MS, does the definition change?

Someone recenty commented that I was trying too hard to be normal. So I have been having a philosophical discussion with myself in recent weeks about what I consider my own “normal”. What is normal anyway? Is it a behaviour? A way of speaking? A way of interacting? Is it skin colour? Is it clothing choice? Is it education? What is “normal”? More importantly…what is MY normal?

My answer? Normal is a very individual thing.

My own “normal” has undergone a reformation and reshaping this year…so I am trying to figure out what that normal is now. In the past year I have moved, gotten re-married, started full-on menopause with its roller coaster ride of crazy symptoms, found myself unchallenged at somethings and over-challenged in others, dealt with the ups/downs/and sideways issues of having 2 kids in university, and thrown myself heart and soul into my personal cause of swimming against stigma (by swimming competitively in synchronized swimming after 30 years out of it). So…where does normal come into this equation?

As I have aged and managed my life with MS, I have never strived to be “normal” – because that definition is elusive, as far as I am concerned. I have always strived to be “normal for me”. And what is normal for me? How can I figure that out if the parameters keep changing on me, as is the wont of MS and its symptoms?

Normal for me means dealing with change and adapting on a monthly, daily, and even hourly basis. It means pulling back when I need to, and pushing forward hard when I can. It means heeding the advice of those around me when I can, and knowing when to ignore it, listening to only my own advice to myself. Normal for me means pushing the boundaries; seeing where the edge is and if I can push past it. It means facing my fears and doing it anyway. It means breaking stigmas against MS, seizure disorders, and chronic illness as a whole.

My normal from 30 years ago differs from my normal of 15 years ago, and from my normal of 5 years ago, or even 1 year ago. What was the overlying common denominator in all of that? It was my resilience and ability to deal with change. THAT is my normal.

I re-discover my normal on a regular basis. Right now – my temporary normal is figuring out what my new normal is with my new activities such as swimming and trying to be back in the office more often than before. Is it hard work? Yep- Very hard work. Is it worth the frustration, confusion, and sometime even pain? Yep. For me – that is just a normal part of the process.

What is your normal?

Normal is not something to aspire to, it’s something to get away from. ~ Jodie Foster

Namaste

Carolyne

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