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I Tried to Be Normal Once.

I tried to be normal once. Worst two days of my life!

There is nothing so strange as a normal person. But then, again, is there really such a thing as a "normal" person?! We've all got our quirks, our dirty laundry, our personal dragons and our oddities. Most of us, at some point in our lives, could have been characterized as weird, a black sheep, an eccentric, a wallflower, an odd duck, a rebel, a non-conformist or, at the very least, alone, broken, rejected, hurt, damaged, or possibly depressed.

Those of us who have been or are depressed - the ultimate disease of isolation, mental anguish and relentless self-criticism - can take heart in the fact that if we suffer with mental illness, we're in good company. Many creative geniuses, prominent historical figures and famous people have suffered with depression and enriched our lives immeasurably.

People like: Robin Williams, Brooke Shields, Alec Baldwin, Ted Turner, Art Buchwald, Tipper Gore, Terry Bradshaw, Gwyneth Paltrow, Vivian Leigh, Patty Duke, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Virginia Woolf, Eugene O'Neill, Ludwig von Beethoven, Leo Tolstoy, John Keats, Tennessee Williams, Sylvia Plath, Vincent Van Gogh, Isaac Newton, Ernest Hemingway, Michaelangelo, and Charles Dickens, to name a few.

It's been said about Winston Churchill that without repeatedly experiencing the "Black Dog" (his name for depression), he might not

have been the exceptional leader that he was. In fact, the "Black Dog" may have prepared Churchill for the desperate struggle against Hitler and the tremendous challenge he faced during World War II.

If you are depressed, have been depressed, or know someone who is depressed, remember that part of the makeup of most people who experience depression is heightened sensitivity, intellect and creativity.

Who are we to judge where genius starts and mental illness begins? How can we begin to judge anybody for being depressed?

How can we say that they aren't "normal"? Howt do we know that the person in the next office, the neighbor, an old friend, a relative, a person in your family, or you yourself are not going to experience a depression in life?

According to the CDC, in the United States, an estimated 1 in 10 adults will experience a clinical depression in their lives. This is close to 32 million people who will sooner or later become part of this unenviable "club."

People with depression also tend to suffer from low self-esteem and more than a good helping of self-doubt. Many of us believe we have to be perfect in order to be acceptable to ourselves or the rest of the world. We place pressures and expectations on ourselves that are unrealistic and often unobtainable. We believe this is necessary to be deserving of respect and love - our own as well as that of others. Can we say that's not normal?

This brings to mind the opening quote, which is something most of us could say:

"I tried to be normal once. Worst two minutes of my life!"

And on a more serious note, what John Watson wrote always gives pause for reflection:

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

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