You know, normal is really just a way of saying, "This is what I'm used to."
What's normal is what's typical. It's the expected, the customary, "this is the way we've always done it."
But if you change all that, if you take the customary and expected and change it - maybe a little, maybe a lot - and then hold it there for awhile, not letting it go back to where it was until it's set up like molded gelatin ...
... when you have a new normal.
A couple of weeks ago I was standing at the sink, washing some pots and pans that don't fit in the dishwasher. I was looking out the window at the warming spring weather, noting from the corner of my eye, and with rather less of my attention, that Arielle was sitting at the kitchen table, absorbed in some complicated make-believe game with her dolls.
And as I thought about all these things and let my hands do their thing with the dishes, I noticed an odd buzzy, fizzy sensation in my chest. I stopped, and I thought, "What is this feeling?" It was a feeling of some kind, I could tell, some emotion ... and then I realized what it was.
I was feeling happy.
I didn't recognize it.
Which was understandable considering I hadn't felt that emotion for, oh (and I stopped here to calculate), wow, about four years now.
I'd thought I was doing so well with the depression when I went to see my new doctor a couple of months ago. I told her about the depression and how bad it had been, even things I haven't told anyone else, thinking that was just background. And then I went on and described some frustrating symptoms that have been bothering me lately.
You know what she said? Of course you do! She said she thought I was still mildly depressed and she wanted to put my on an antidepressant. She thought my frustrating symptoms were caused by that.
So. We talked for awhile about that, and I explained how badly I had reacted to the evil Cymbalta and how I had been flooded for most of the six months I was on it with the overwhelming conviction that I really needed to kill myself, and how I would have sudden impulses to do things like drive my car into a telephone pole that were so strong it was like someone standing behind me, with their hands on my shoulders, shoving me forward toward death, and how all I could do when those impulses hit was hang on to whatever was solid near me and try to keep breathing until the wave crested and broke, and how I thought ever taking any antidepressant ever again was a Very, Very Bad Idea.
And she said she wanted me to try Wellbutrin. It didn't work the same way Cymbalta did, she promised me. "Try it," she said. "If you start feeling strange you can stop taking it immediately without a need to taper off."
I agreed, but not happily, and I seriously considered not filling the prescription. But there was that tantalizing possibility of magically feeling better, and although I was feeling pretty darn good, I thought, well, maybe.
I realize now, that my standard of normal had changed. I was so used to being depressed that, especially after the Cymbalta, I had forgotten what I used to think was normal.
I still don't know if this is anywhere near what I used to consider normal, but right now, the Wellbutrin is really doing me good. I met with my doctor again and she said she thinks that we should just go with this for the indefinite future. Meaning, I might be on this for the rest of my life.
Fine with me. This might not be "normal" but it's so much better than where I was that it feels pretty good.