C'est Normal, You're Ok, and Everything's Fine

At least twice a session with my therapist, I utter the phrase "Is that normal?" I crave that validation and reassurance that I'm not alone in what I'm feeling, how I'm acting, what I'm going through. That I am and will be okay. 

Her response is always what I already know, that there is no "normal" and also, everything I'm feeling is normal. 

Just Sitting Here Languishing

I think we're all feeling a bit crappy right now. Not ourselves. And we're far from alone in this. For those that have anxiety or depression, it's substantially worse. And for those that have never felt these uncontrollable shifts, they are likely now experiencing them quite regularly. As for myself some days I'm okay, and others I feel lethargic, scattered, overwhelmed at the most basic of tasks. I have social anxiety that can only be quelled by two glasses of wine minimum. Food feels like the only easy reward some days. 

And it's normal. It's all normal. That can be scary and sad but it's where we're at. The scariest part is that a lot of us haven't experienced anything of this magnitude before, so there's no common word to put to it. Without a label things feel a bit unmoored and unreal. A construct of our minds. But luckily people have come up with names for it, and I like the most recent New York Times article that talks about the current state a lot of us are in, languishing.

"Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021." 

It feels good to put a name to it. Makes me feel less alone in my languishing ways.

So when do we get to this "New Normal"

I feel like in Canada we're sitting in the middle of a bunch of things. On the cusp of getting out of the COVID trenches, while on one side of us there's extreme devastation in places like India (so many ways to donate including here Red Cross) and on the other side we see people talking about getting into their beach bodies for a summer spent back in the world (Hello Florida). Thankfully our vaccine situation is improving, and that combined with other things will get us back on track. The "new normal" people have been referencing since the start of this whole mess is just about in reach. But what does that new normal look like? What track exactly are we getting on and do we have a choice? This produces it's own set of anxieties.

So I have three statements that are helping me through all of my various emotions right now. Maybe they'll help you too, beyond just knowing that you're not alone. 

Embrace (the Joy in) the Suck

This is a common phrase, which to me encourages focusing on gratitude and finding "what's good" in every situation. Embrace the the joy in the suck. For me the list continues to grow: 
  • Not sitting on a peed-on bus seat on the way to work.
  • I'm always (almost) on time now and I don't have to worry about my make-up or hair.
  • I didn't (knock on wood) have any major sicknesses this year. 
  • I got to spend more concentrated time with my folks. 
  • The other day I woke up and decided I wanted to read in the bath before work, and I had time to do so! 
  • I danced like a wild person in my living room thanks to Daybreaker! I hope we can meet in person one day.
And I have a new sense of gratitude for basic things, which I'm really hoping will carry into the new world. I certainly won't take so many things for granted again. 

What's Your Why?

I was at a webinar recently where the presenter was talking about always keeping your "why" in mind when you do anything. And ensuring that the subsequent action aligns with your values and what you want to put out into the world. I write a lot, often to a vacant audience, but every once and a while I get a message from someone who's read one of my posts and said that it's helped them feel connected and less alone. Those comments make every single second of it worthwhile. My "why" for writing has a few answers, but connection is definitely one of the top three, and it helps to put it all in perspective. 

This is one of my favourite quotes that I've come across this year (thanks London Writer's Salon).

"I think if I could go back in time and give myself a message, it would be to reiterate that my value as an artist doesn't come from how much I create. I think that mindset is yoked to capitalism. Being an artist is about how and why you touch people's lives, even if it's one person. Even if that's yourself, in the process of art-making."

– Amanda Gorman, poet & activist as quoted in the New York Times

Do it Anyway

This is an oldie but goodie from Mel Robbins. I actually have it spelled out on my little marquee board, I found it so transformative when I first came across it. A cousin of the "just do it" slogan, I like how this one acknowledges that you might really not want to do the things that you know will make you feel better, but you just don't have any motivation around them in a given moment. More often than not, if you just do the thing, your motivation will come and you'll feel better. So I'm trying to tell myself this as I languish in bed scrolling through social media instead of getting my butt up and out for a run. 

If all else fails, I throw on Bob Marley, order some Thai food, tell myself that I'll start my healthy eating again tomorrow (we can start again at any point). And I, we all, float on alright. 

There's hope. A lot of it is within our control. Have a marvelous May!


IanT said…
Bang on. Love you.