The ONE Idea That Skyrocketed My Mental Health Recovery

By Anni

When you google depression or anxiety, the word “normal” comes up a good bit. Inability to lead a “normal” life. Loss of interest in “normal” activities.

I was stuck with depression and anxiety for many years without making much progress despite seeing a therapist and taking medications. In hindsight, I now understand that the word “normal” had a whole lot to do with why I was stuck for so long.

You see, my mental health team and I were all working toward the wrong “normal” as the goal. The goal was to get me to enjoy “normal” activities, as in the same types of things most other people enjoy.

I felt like a misfit in most group settings.  I wasn’t interested in talking about the same kinds of things as most “normal” people.

I couldn’t keep up with the jokes and the party banter.

Even though I had a great job with great pay in the field I was educated in, the prospect of getting up out of bed every morning to go to said job or another one like it for the next fifty years or so made me wish for a UFO to appear out of nowhere and whisk me away to outer space.

But hey, this was normal life and I needed to figure out a way to enjoy it.

And yet, it didn’t matter how much we analyzed my childhood traumas. It didn’t matter how many times we adjusted my medications.

It didn’t matter that the meds took away the anxiety that everyone thought was the only thing blocking me.

I still wasn’t interested in “normal” activities. I still felt like a majority of my daily life consisted of forcing myself to do stuff I didn’t particularly want to do. And after that went on long enough, I didn’t particularly want to be alive at all anymore.

Until eventually during a particularly rocky patch I had a revelation.

Mental health recovery: Out of all the mental health tips, this one has been one of the most helpful for me. Check it out if you are looking for help with depression and anxiety.

The big breakthrough that finally skyrocketed my mental health recovery was this:

The goal of my mental health journey should not be a “normal” life. The goal of my mental health journey should be my wellness and happiness.

And my wellness and happiness doesn’t have to look normal. At all.

Because some of us just weren’t born to do “normal”.

I was chasing after a “normal” defined by other people.  I was a highly sensitive introvert trying to copy the “normal” of the less sensitive extrovert majority.  And that “normal” had nothing to do with my happiness.

What I needed to do was create my own “normal”.

My depression lifted almost overnight and I learned how to manage my anxiety without medications when I finally realized that I didn’t have to pass the “normal” test in order to qualify as a human being living on this earth.

That I didn’t have to participate in X number of “normal” activities per week in order to “qualify” as mentally healthy.  That I didn’t have to go to parties or get excited about the Super Bowl.

That I could stop trying to be “normal”.

That I could stop trying to fit in.

That I didn’t have to prove anything to anyone.

That I could stop pretending to be someone I wasn’t.

That I could stop asking my highly sensitive body to tolerate as much as a “normal” person’s body.

That I could spend more time resting in solitude than most “normal” people.

That I didn’t have to like the “normal” things.

That I didn’t have to enjoy a “normal” life.

That I didn’t have to find happiness in the same places, the same ways, as most “normal” people.

That my mental health journey was all about me.

That it was all about what makes ME happy.

That it was all about what makes ME feel well.

That it was all about what I need in order to want to be alive.

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(Pssst, I like to share my personal experience overcoming depression with the hope that some of my discoveries might resonate with others. Making lifestyle changes has greatly contributed to my own well-being, and as a life coach, I help people make impactful changes in their own lives. But I’m not a mental health professional and I’m not qualified to diagnose or treat mental health conditions. Depression has many potential causes, and if you have questions about the appropriate intervention for you, please consult a qualified professional.)


Why Do I Hate My Life?

About the author 


Hi! I'm a life coach, a Certified MBTI® Practitioner, and a mentor for stressed out introverts and highly sensitive people. I used to be one myself! My mission is to help you discover your true self and create a life you ACTUALLY like.

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  1. Anni, That was so good to read, and I think many would benefit by your statement. “Normal” is a bit over used and you made that clear, I’ve had a similar experience in my life and had many jobs of work searching for what to do with my life, and found myself at a desk with two telephones, access to a secretary and typing pool, in short, I was an executive and I was told that I was doing an excellent job, and yet I didn’t feel all that fulfilled. To skip ahead I resigned and became a Letter Carrier and I felt all stress and anxiety dropping off and felt that I finally found success, and it raised eyebrows of those who thought my decision was not “normal”. Normal schnormal.. I was as happy as a pig in slop. Bob Foy.

  2. You are a wonderful blogger – so glad I discovered you. Thought I was the only “crazy different sensitive one” that did not respond to normal things as others did. Great that you share so honestly.

  3. Thank you very much Anni for this article! I absolutely relate to all of what you said. It feels very goodto know that there are people like me and I am not the only one who is told to be ‘normal’ and conform to the societal ‘rules’. I feel liberated and light after reading your thoughts. Thanks again for raising my confidence in myself !

  4. I am a highly sensitive introvert and just figured it out about a year ago. I’ve spent a lot of time depressed lately, and I know that it’s because the neighborhood kids have stressed me out by not respecting my boundaries and also bouncing basketballs for hours on end most days right by my house. So, my one way of recharging after work, getting some peace and quiet time, is hard to get unless I hide out in the bathroom with the fan on. And the advice from others has been to “invite them in for milk and cookies and get to know them” which I definitely have no desire to do. And that in turn makes me feel guilty for not being able to tolerate it. Thank you for saying that I don’t have to do things the same as “normal” people. I’m so tired of feeling guilty.

    1. Hi Kathy, that situation with the neighborhood kids would irritate me too. How about ear plugs or headphones? Nature sounds or relaxing instrumental music? This is definitely not something to feel guilty about. Kids can be so loud and rambunctious, it will drive anyone crazy after a while. We have three kids and even my extravert non-HSP husband has a hard time with the noise and running around sometimes and especially after a long day at work.

  5. This was so amazing to read, as well as your post about talking therapy. I’ve spent so long trying to push myself to carry on in jobs where I can’t make myself fit because it’s ‘a good job’, trying to maintain a big group of friends because that’s what we’re told we should have to be happy, trying to talk about my depression and anxiety even though actually I know thag makes it worse because we are meant to talk about those things and it’s meant to help.

    I read your post about a week ago and since then have been building in time to rest each day, time to reflect and feel so much happier and more solid in myself. I’ve realised that so much of what was making me unhappy was a feeling that I was a failure for not being able to achieve things that ‘normal’ people achieve. But I don’t like those things! It’s such a relief, thank you!

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