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Tolerable Abnormalities

This was first written in 2017 but [unfortunately] it's still very relevant for today... Some lessons take a while to learn... Happy reading!

I recently went to visit my doctor about some unexplained head and facial pain I was having. She told me it was nothing to worry about and it would fix itself but I think she could tell I was unsatisfied with her diagnosis (as I am a keen “Google doctor”) so she sent me for a blood test. I think this was maybe more for the purpose of shutting me up, but in doing so the doctor discovered on a completely different note, that I have been iron deficient… What are the odds?

After this random discovery, I went home and checked this condition further on Google – as I do – and it turns out that I had a number of the symptoms of iron deficiency already and have had them for a long time. Some things are probably more apparent than others like continuous tiredness, but more than half of the things listed, I have experienced but never thought to get advice on because they didn’t completely stop my day-to-day functioning. I subconsciously managed to make very abnormal symptoms become normal in my every day life because they were tolerable. Had it not been for the high level of discomfort that led me to the doctor’s surgery, I may well have continued to ignore it until something more serious came of it.

I suddenly became freshly aware that I can be very accepting of situations. On one hand is a very agreeable trait and makes me adaptable to change, but on the other hand it can be negative because it means I may quite simply learn to live with things that are, or should be considered abnormal.

This led me on a bit of a thought tangent and I started to consider various areas I’ve accepted things that shouldn’t be.

I looked up at my bedroom clock which was still an hour fast from the last time that the clocks moved back… which was 6 months prior. It was never that I couldn’t change it. I just didn’t because I had adjusted quite quickly to remembering I had an extra hour.

I remembered my previous laptop charger that was so old and worn that it was probably about 90% stripped down to bare wire, but I kept it because it still worked, it hadn’t caught fire and buying a new one would be expensive. I just had to remember not to leave it charging unattended. That was manageable. (Don’t worry, it has since been replaced).

I learnt in my uni days that if I was tired enough I could sleep quite comfortably sharing my bed with books, papers, random fabrics and art equipment. It wasn’t ideal but for the sake of catching an extra few minutes of sleep before or after handing in an assignment, I could tolerate it quite easily for the time. I’m really exposing myself (covers face).

On a slightly more serious note I thought then of some of the friendships and interactions where I’ve accepted people’s bad behaviour for the sake of avoiding confrontation. I always saw it as “Urgh, it’s just affecting me. I need to learn how to ignore it”, but I later learnt that some people need to be confronted for their sake and for that of their future friendships.

When discussing this point with a friend she mentioned needing glasses to see long distances but having avoided it. We established in that discussion that it wasn’t good for the long-term health of her eyes but she didn’t like wearing them so she learnt to live with the impediment, even with difficulty at times. It’s been doable.

These are all pretty mild examples but think how many people have been abused on that premise. I’m sure there are numerous women that have said “he belittles me in public but he doesn’t mean it really” or “he hit me but maybe I deserved it that time”. Deep down we know it’s not acceptable behaviour but we put up with it, not because we feel we should, but because we feel we can.

The list of these tolerable abnormalities goes on and on, both decreasing and increasing in severity, most likely because as humans we are adaptable creatures. What is probably worth considering is how much this kind of easy acceptance is costing you? Will it cost you your health to ignore that ailment? Will it cost you your self-esteem to live with someone’s unapologetic disrespect? Dare I say it, I think sometimes we overlook these details due to a lack of self worth. If it were an issue affecting someone else, we probably would tell them to deal with it, but because it’s “just me” affected by it, it ranks lower in importance. What you tolerate could either have little to no consequence or possibly be entirely life changing. Think, what abnormalities have become normal for you?


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