When you are in medical school, they teach you, “this is what’s normal.” But as one can predict, there are always exceptions to that rule. Take Hypertension for example. If the Systolic remains well within 129 mm of Hg, you are good to go (that’s normal). But then, there is a small chunk of people who have a systolic BP somewhere between 130-140 and it’s called a high normal, it’s still normal for a few. ( If you aren’t a science student, don’t give up on me yet ;)
Switching topics, are you a Hollywood fan?
No, not really? Not your thing? Okay.
Yeah?! Keep it coming Great!
I am always struck by a line by Mrs Gump in Forrest Gump(1994), where she is trying to negotiate with the principal for her son’s admission to a public school. Her son’s IQ however, is lower than the state’s acceptable level to a ‘normal‘ school. She is told that her boy’s intellectual capacity is below what is considered normal and that he is different.
She asks the principal,
What does normal mean anyway?
Wow, just take a moment. Let that sink in.
What is normal anyway? Have we overused it, overemphasized it? (except for the medical reasons). I guess even the world’s leading organisations realized it when they started referring to the ‘disabled’ as ‘differently abled’. How profound is the thought process behind this. Some of us are not disabled, we are equipped in a certain way to accomplish the same things differently. But in recent times, being differently abled is still a lot more uncommon thought process than being disabled. Studies report that Physical disability is associated with increased prevalence of Depression when compared with disability-free counterparts. A 2016 study on the relationship between Physical disability and Depression
We can never really know what it feels like when one is unable to do things the way others can. They feel different from others, but they don’t want to be different. They don’t want to be left out. The reality of feeling disabled is frustrating. People generally succumb immediately to the idea that they can’t do something. It’s hard and close to impossible to be able to stand in their shoes. We can sympathize but probably not empathize. Simply because we have never been in a place like that in our lives. We don’t know what it feels like. We may think we do, but I doubt it.
Struggles can range from not being able to walk and speak to not being able to socialize and make friends. Our problems come in all shapes and sizes, it is important to realize that they don’t make us ‘different‘ or ‘abnormal‘. Infact, you should welcome the new normal. Which is found in you.
We can go online and read about hundreds and thousands of people who made their disabilities, a pathway towards something new. Few even excelled in their new alternative endeavours. Stephen Hawking, Helen Keller and Nick Vujicic are amongst the best examples.
In Human kinetics, we are taught that even though a ‘normal‘ has been stipulated, it eventually boils down to individual variations. They tell us that there may be so many confounders leading us to believe that something is wrong or abnormal. “Every case is different than others, therefore assess, analyze and treat it accordingly.”
Well, what’s normal then really? Does it even exist in a world like ours where humans with uniquely different minds, characteristics and abilities roam about?
The wonder of the creation is embedded in the fact that we are all uniquely designed by an intelligent designer. Acceptance and quest of “what I can do, instead of what I can’t is key. Although its much easier said than done, it still holds true.
Fanny Jane Crosby, was an American mission worker, poet, lyricist, and composer. She was one of the most prolific hymnists in history, writing more than 8,000 hymns and gospel songs with more than 100 million copies printed. She lost her vision permanently, shortly after her birth. She once said,
“It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.
Through the course of her life, Fanny accepted and eventually grew to be grateful for being blind all her life. The eyes of her soul could stare into the deeper purpose she carried and joy that would be hers when it reached its fulfilment.
Disability should not us lead to Depression. If paid attention to closely, it can become the means to empower us and others.
Annie Willis, a biographer said of Fanny,
Had it not been for her affliction, she might not have so good an education or have so great an influence, and certainly not so fine a memory.