The energy to seem normal

“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.” ~Albert Camus

I’ve run across this quote numerous times; the most recent was from a friend who posted it on Twitter with the hashtag #depression. It fits well with my experience of what depression is like.

The simple tasks and activities that most people take for granted as “normal” become tremendously hard work. Whether it’s meeting people for lunch or keeping the house clean or cooking dinner or running errands, these every day activities suddenly seem to take more energy than I have to give.

Having dealt with depression off and on for about 30 years now, I’ve gotten pretty good at being able to fake “normal” much of the time in all but the very worst depressive states, but I’m always so aware of how much more energy it takes for me to do “normal” than it does for most people. Even the contrast between me during depression and me undepressed is an astounding gap! (I say that as one who is dysthymic and therefore has at least very mild depressive traits even at my best.)

Some days, the awareness of this makes me feel sorry for myself. I am so aware of all that I want to be doing and accomplishing that I am unable to do because I just don’t have the energy. More often, though, it makes me aware of the fact that there are likely others all around me who are also expending tremendous energy in their own attempt to appear normal.

It could be depression or physical illness or a broken heart or the illness of loved ones or grief or worry or any number of things that are making “normal” hard for those around me. How often am I too quick to judge others when they don’t seem to be measuring up while at the very same time resenting the fact that others do not seem to be giving me grace for my own struggles to function normally?

What if we all are really doing the best we can with the resources (and energy and health) that we have to work with?  And how does that assumption shift my ability to be curious about others’ best instead of judgmental?

In this moment, it might be even more important for me to consider how to give myself the grace of assuming I’m doing the best I can with the resources I have to work with. There may be no better illustration of grace.

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