But You Look So Normal. . .

But You Look So Normal

Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal. – Albert Camus

Talking with a friend the other day, I brought up the fact that mental disorders are just as detrimental and difficult as physical ones.  She responded by saying, “And no one knows that anything is wrong because you look ok on the outside.  No one sees the problem.”

When someone has a broken leg, others notice their crutch and help them maneuver difficult routes.  Through cancer and its treatment, people lose their hair.  Even someone with a cold can be spotted by their dripping nose.  However, the young man who is planning to kill himself, the pre-teen who throws up her food, the Aspergerian boy who has few friends, the depressed mother who cannot get out of her bed to care for her children – they can not be easily identified.

Scary, isn’t it?  People who are suffering mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically in an internal way are often ignored, forgotten, or belittled.  After all, that  young man can choose to find a job and be happy, that pre-teen can stop worrying about her weight and just eat like a normal person, that lonely boy can just be more friendly, that mother can stop being lazy and self-centered so she help her family, right?  Right?

No.  The truth is that depression, OCD, anxiety, eating disorders, bi-polar, PTSD, autism, ADHD, and other such disorders are real, painful, and deadly.  Those who suffer with them might not look different physically but that does not take away the severity of their health problems.  After all, one cannot see cancer itself in the patient.  Does that make it less real?

Some of this lack of empathy and knowledge stems from the important role of appearance in our society.  If someone looks healthy, they are.  If someone looks sick, then they must be sick.  Sounds logical but it simply is not true.  So often assumptions are made based on looks.  She is pretty so she must be popular.  He is tall so he must play basketball.  Blonde is dumb, glasses are smart, tattoos are tough, etc.  Without even noticing it, we are surrounded by visual judgments all of the time.

When I stopped over-eating and started to not eat, I rapidly began to look different.  When people noticed, they complimented me numerous times on how “healthy” I was becoming.  Just because I was losing weight, they assumed I was leading a happier, stronger, and more health-conscious life.  In actuality, my heart was beating under 40 times a minute as my body began to burn off itself to keep me alive.  Lying in bed listening to the slow thump in my chest, I often thought I would die.  Is that really health?  If so, I want nothing to do with it!

Anyway, leaving with a disorder that people cannot see and might not believe is difficult.  However, I hope that people can keep trying to raise awareness so that others can understand more about mental, emotional, and personality disorders.  Next time you meet someone for the first time, try not to put a label on them.  You never know the battle that is going on inside of someone.

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26 thoughts on “But You Look So Normal. . .

  1. I feel your pain on this one.
    I was diagnosed with Aspergers last year, and whenever I mention it to people they gasp & say “I wouldn’t of thought that, you look normal” So then I wonder what is normal? Then I feel insulted by everyone. It’s horrible. Because I look a certain way doesn’t mean I am a label. GRRR.
    If you want to share experiences feel free to comment/email 🙂

    All the best, Maria

    • I agree! People don’t believe me when I say that I have Aspergers. Then I just get confused and even more anxious. It is difficult. Thank you for reading! 🙂

    • jannice says:

      Hey!
      I’ve been following your blog for quite some time now. You make me happy 🙂

      i think you would like a book i picked up after a friend recommended it to me. i have aspergers along with a couple other super rare autoimmune diseases and after reading this book and seeing what this chick went through, i actually got out of my little hole, went out and felt better about myself.

      At first i bought it because of the title, it’s actually called:

      “But You Look So Normal…”

      check it out!

      i got it from butyoulooksonormal.com

      oh and btw, i love you!

      • Thank you so much for reading my blog! I am glad that you are enjoying it. That sounds like an amazing book! I will check it out for sure.

      • jannice says:

        Forgot to mention exactly why im so hung up on that book.

        The two main things i have are vasculitis and aspergers.

        The girl in the book has lupus and vasculitis. i think they should have mentioned that in their summary.
        She has those plus had 2 strokes and still works as a nurse!
        (talk about being my hero)

  2. Lynn says:

    Thank you, once again, for your honesty and your insights – you are doing a great service, AnnaRose!

  3. Yup. Thank you for sharing. So true.

  4. Mary Meeds says:

    Annarose,This writing made me realize again how talented you are – the connections you make, the good way you have of putting words together. PLEASE continue to proofread, as I am finding more mistakes almost every time I read a blog. Keep up the GOOD work!Love,Mom We can do no great things: We can only do small things with great love.

  5. AnnaLinnehan says:

    Thank you so much for stopping by and liking my page “Make Money Blogging!” I look forward to stopping by yours often…

  6. mudtherapist says:

    thanks. so true! Your posts are impressive and I hope you keep posting!!

  7. mrsmayberry says:

    I am an aspie. I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 41. What a ride my life has been!
    I know what you mean. My doctor told me that Asperger’s is called an “invisible disability” because you can’t see it, the people with it look normal. We don’t limp. We aren’t disfigured, yet we aren’t like more other people.
    I have had people say they didn’t believe I was an aspie. I find that offensive. But maybe they weren’t trying to be…

    • Good point that people are not trying to be offensive. They probably do not know what to say. Hopefully everyone can grow in awareness and compassion for others. Thank you so much for your comment!

  8. You are so right and so honestly eloquent about this topic. People hide and choose not to see, not to empathize, or to place blame and labels. Mood disorders are all around us and in our lives; the stigma is what keeps people from being supported and encouraged for their strength and courage.

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