A very frequent question that arises in one’s mind when seeking mental health treatment is ‘Am I normal?’ or rather, ‘I am normal, why do I need to address my mental health?’. Which is why I chose the topic of normality, or in this case normal mental health to discuss.
‘Normal’ by definition is something that conforms to a standard. Something that is expected and predictable. For most parameters, anything that falls within 95% of a Gaussian Bell Curve is considered standard and normal. Health, in simple terms, is defined as the absence of disease.
In accordance with this approach, lack of any overt psychopathology would define normal mental health. But can the same standards be applied to mental health? Is mental health the antonym of mental illness?
Can the absence of a defined psychiatric illness be considered mental health? Or should we, as human beings, hold ourselves to a standard higher than that?
An alternative perspective would be to view health as a presence of positives rather than the absence of negatives.
Health by itself is a continuum, with constant fluctuations. The human mind, even more plastic. It flows constantly; and ebbs and peaks without prior warning.
In a scenario like this, ‘Normal’ is difficult to define. But one can identify the persistence of joy and the motivation to live. It is possible to see if you are moving forward in life with energy and enthusiasm or are being pushed around by your fears. Whether you are bogged down by the troubles of daily life or are able to meet challenges with resilience. Whether you are able to experience and express love, empathy, gratitude, forgiveness and compassion. Whether you allow yourself to feel the whole gamut of human emotions, including anger, hatred and sadness. Whether the uncertainty of life brings anxiety and confusion or curiosity and zest!
In simple words, whether we live our lives with the glory it demands!
After all, isn’t this what truly matters?