On Sunday after sitting through a 90 minute movie and enjoying a coffee I had a natural urge to go. As the door swung closed behind me and I was stifled by a synthetic floral stink, one of those unnatural bouquets, worse than any commonplace lavatory stench. My olfactory sensibilities were heightened and when I noticed the the advertising poster on the back of the door other sensitivities were insulted by what I read: “Depression and anxiety – it’s not a normal part of getting older.”
Really? While I might not take much pleasure in aging, and even seek treatment for any accompanying depression and anxiety, I find the suggestion that these states are not normal is offensive.
The poster was a little on-the-nose. My photograph doesn’t really do it justice but it does capture how dank my mood became, in the cinema toilets on that sunny Sunday.
As in evidenced by this blog, I do tend to side with darker outlooks and I would even argue that anxiety and depression are pervasive, if not commonplace, as we age. Normal. We are complex and multi-faceted beings and our thinking around what is normal can be too constrained, too narrow to accommodate experiences that might be unwelcome but are nonetheless characteristic of the human condition.
On one hand we are encouraged to celebrate diversity and accept what is different, rare, or unconventional. On the other hand if the very thing that is unusual is in some way dark or uncomfortable and can be medicated into abeyance, then it is labelled abnormal and that’s troubling – if not just plain wrong.
I wonder what hue I would be if I had only been coloured in with happy normal shades?
Thoughts of normal and abnormal cause me to wonder about being only normal and how I might be burdened with common, conventional, expected, standard, usual, and I would miss my quirky.
I have learned more from my experiences, both challenging and fabulous, than from any other form of education. I believe joys would be less joyous without knowing sorrows and that I would be less normal without my abnormal.