Friday, February 26, 2021

COMMENTARY: What is Normal?

Submitted by: Senaida Rangel 
MHSA Coordinator/Grant Writer, Colusa County Behavioral Health

We often go through life without thinking twice about the world around us. We focus on what is important to us and are secure with the idea of “normal.” When something interrupts this “normal routine” we are then hit by the realities of others. Our sense of security becomes challenged and we are no longer comfortable with “our normal.” So we struggle to twist and turn the situation to fit our perspective so it goes back to our “normal” and we feel safe again.

It is this very idea that keeps all things considered “abnormal” at bay.  We do our very best to keep our world as “normal” as possible. We keep the abnormal in places away from our “normal” lives, believing that it can never touch us. An example of this would be the beliefs associated around mental health. Most would like to think that this is “abnormal,” but is it? What makes it so? Or are we just ignoring the reality that it is something that impacts us all?

How many of you have ever experienced trauma or know someone who has experienced trauma? Have you ever lost a loved one? Have you ever felt so sad about a situation and believed you would never come out of it? What about struggling with a medical condition such as cancer or other terminal illnesses? What makes these issues so different from everyone else? The truth is, there is no difference. We fail to recognize that mental health is simply about the realities of life. The examples mentioned are situations that we all may experience because life happens to us, whether we like it or not.

So why are we so afraid of what is “different”? Why are we so afraid of the words, Mental Health? Is it the simple fact that we may have to admit that we are not “normal”? Our society teaches us to be independent, “survival of the fittest”, but the reality is, we all need help sometimes. As individuals we should not allow society to define what is “normal” and what is not, rather we should accept that everyone’s normal is different, this is neither good or bad, it simply just is.

The real truth is, mental health is all around us and we are practicing it every day. We struggle with our weight, eating healthy or not, exercising, taking vacations, thinking back on happy memories. When we are feeling sad, we do something to make us feel better or reach out and talk to a friend. This is all apart of mental health. So what makes you different from me or anyone else? Nothing .I am a person just like you, going through life doing the best that I can with what I have. The same is true for those who have a mental illness; they are simply doing the best they can with what they have.

So why do we feel the need to put mental health down? Take a look at yourself, your life, what you have been through, the things you have overcome. Are you really that different? So I leave you with one final question, what are you going to do to change the stigma and bring awareness  to mental health?

Come raise awareness around mental health and reduce stigma in our community through Stamp Out Stigma and Moving Miles for Minds. Stamp Out Stigma will be held at the Department of Behavioral Health (162 E. Carson Street) on Thursday, May 14th from 2:00pm-5:00pm. Moving Miles for Minds will occur on Saturday, May 16th with registration beginning at 8:30am and the race starting at 10:00am. Our featured speaker, Kevin Briggs, will be speaking at 12:30pm. The event will be at the Colusa Boy Scout Cabin. Please contact Senaida Rangel at (530)458-0520 for more information. <

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