In my last post, “Normal: Part One”, I described my teenage lifestyle as a stubborn, gothic young woman with undiagnosed borderline personality disorder and, unsurprisingly, deep depression and anger problems. I explained my seething hatred for anything that could be considered “normal”, because my emotional experience of the world was so diseased and unusual that “average” things made absolutely no sense to me.
But that’s been changing. As I’ve discussed in recent blog posts, I started doing electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) last month as a last-ditch effort to clear away my medicine-resistant depression, and to my absolutely delighted surprise, it’s been working. My anxiety, anger, depression, and dissociation attacks have subsided almost completely in the past few weeks. Obviously, it’s a wonderful thing: I’m capable of feeling happiness now, and excitement, and joy – all the sensations people experience that keep them from killing themselves.
There is, however, one odd effect from the ECT that teenage Zoe would have resented: as of last month, I feel normal.
I always thought I would resent the sensation of feeling “ordinary” if it ever afflicted me, but to be perfectly honest, I’m not too bothered by it. My very freshly normalized lifestyle comes with the benefit of not feeling depressed anymore, or having to timidly back out of social engagements because of my anxiety, or being afraid that I’m going to dissociate at any moment. Lately, I haven’t felt that familiar agitation when a stranger’s clothing is similar to mine, or when someone says they listen to the same music I do.
In short, I’ve been able to have something in common with another person and not feel distress over it.
I used to be in the habit of obsessively searching for anything in my appearance that might mark me as “average”. If I ever found something that did, I felt self-conscious until I could goth myself up a little more. Now, it just… doesn’t bother me. I’m not necessarily more comfortable with looking like other people; I just don’t notice it anymore.
I still feel like a very unusual person due to my severe experiences with mental illness at such an early age. I still wear Halloween socks every day and dress in black whenever I can. My bedroom is decorated with skulls, pumpkins, and posters from old TV shows that most people my age (twenty-two) have never heard of. I take pride in my oddness and I advertise my non-conformity. If we meet, I will make an effort to be different from you. But, thanks to ECT, I won’t get hung up if we have something in common. In fact, I might even celebrate it.