You may recall a million days ago when I was in the hospital still I asked myself how I would know I was out of the hospital. The answer was that I would be at my favorite restaurant with Terry. Of all the hundreds of moments of experiences that could mean normal that was the one I seized on and it felt iconic for me, so much so that I really wanted my counts to become normal enough that I could eat at a restaurant, way out of proportion to how much I actually wanted to eat and not because I was craving any particular meal they made either. The experience of sitting in their restaurant with Terry had just become a shorthand in my brain for "normal."
I had a similar experience with the return to work. What became equated with "back to normal" in my brain was seeing patients in clinic. I was anxious for everything to return to normal, to work full hours, to do my regular job, etc., but this was more, a special identification of seeing clinic patients with being back to normal. I noticed that I was really desperate to see patients in clinic and any delay or setback felt like a huge personal affront and the tiniest things would go wrong and I would feel the clinic would never get started and become distressed. I began to really start tying myself in knots to try to see clinic patients. Eventually, I realized that the reason I was doing it was that clinic = normal and I wanted so much for things--for me--to be normal. I wish I had figured out sooner that this was a case where a cigar was not just a cigar and I might have been able to modulate my behavior more normally. I could have quenched the desire to see clinic patients perhaps a little and resulted perhaps in smaller self-knots. (O, the irony, in trying to make things normal, I behaved somewhat abnormally.)
The mind gets some really funny ideas in its head. I am grateful for figuring that one out and hopeful that I figure out my next episode of non-rational thinking sooner.