I heard a story today.
A young dad had a son who’s suffering from ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). It went so badly that the son was expelled from school. He had bad grades and always picked fights with other children.
According to the dad, their family was in disfunction and almost broke apart.
The doctors told him that his son could only be treated with drugs. All of them had made him “like a living zombie.” He didn’t want his son to live the rest of his life like that. But there’s no alternative, the doctors told him.
In desperation, he searched for opportunities of treatment overseas. That’s when he found a training program in the US. After three months of treatment there, his son was treated well, and showed little symptoms after that.
In the end of the speech, the dad said that he went through all that and it was worth every tear and sweat. Because he made his son normal again.
It was a beautiful story of a parent going against all odds, fighting for his child’s life. But what struck me in the end was he said that his son now is “normal” again.
I think what he’s really glad about is his son will from now on, has “a normal life”.
I don’t have kids. And I believe it must have been very tough for the family to have a “trouble-maker” like that. It can be very destructive to the family if it cannot function like the other families in a society.
But I’m just wondering about this idea of a “normal person”. Is it real? How is it defined? Who can say that someone is normal and the other one is not?
A lot of things in human history have been once defined as “abnormal”. In most cases, they had to be “corrected”. But the idea of something or someone is not normal is not defined by the thing or the person himself. It is defined by its surroundings — whether it’s accepted and functional in its societal context.
We run a very strict society everywhere. That’s just how things have always been done. What we like, what we hate, have mostly programmed into our perception of the world since we were born.
When people talk about some crazy things others do, they like to say “there’s a wire misplaced in his brain.” Because it seems like he’s not behaving in a way which the general knowledge wants him to be.
We live in a society that accepts “normality”, that condemns “abnormality”, but sometimes celebrate other “abnormality”.
The abnormal people we celebrate are the ones who achieved something that the majority couldn’t, through a way that normal people might not want to or not able to go.
The “abnormals” must have behaved through their lives on an acceptable but despised situation. They have always been “the weird ones”, “the misfits”, the puzzle piece that never fit. Until one day, they do.
That’s when they got celebrated for something “extraordinary” for the majority of “normal” ones.
Who’s changed? What changed?
Maybe no one. Because we’ve all gotta play the rules or we are thrown out of the game. We either play safe, or play risky, but by achieving a common goal, to make sure that we are not outed.
I have a friend who had been diagnosed with ADHD when he’s a child. He had problems in school, went to mediocre college to study something that he didn’t like. But then changed his path to become an expert in IT Security when others thought it was too late for him to change his profession.
He had problems with emotions because people around him had problems accepting how he was. But it didn’t stop him to become a brilliant man — an intelligent, insightful, wise, and caring friend.
I’m not sure if he thinks so that he’s lucky to be “normal”. I don’t think he ever thought that he’s back to “normal” when his childhood ended. He’s still suffering from being a misfit. But he told me that he’s actually glad to be “abnormal”, even it has been bringing him much more struggle and pain.
“I spend a lot of time only in my head.” he said to me, “I go from topic to topic just not to get bored. I can’t focus for a long time but I read fast and gained lots of info while other people can’t. But I also spend a lot of time asking myself questions. I eat shitty food and smoke cigarets. I don’t exercise but I walk a lot with my dog.
I’m not sure what I feel as happiness matches other people’s definition. I am who I am. And I don’t spend time on thinking about that. It’s just in your head. I do what I’m doing. And no room in my head for judgement. That’s it.”