Thursday, September 25, 2014

Two into one

I don't like to write about work too much. God knows it caused me enough problems in my last job. However, yesterday I had a customer come in..... and he was acting a little strange. I greeted him as he walked in the door, and he didn't really respond but simply asked for a piece of paper. So I gave him one, he wrote something down, and he handed it back to me. It was an email address. I knew what it meant as soon as I read it.

His old email address had been twodogday@______.com. The new one that he wrote down - that he wanted me to update in his customer profile - was onedogday. He had lost a dog. He was barely able to tell me the story of having to put his long-time friend down. This guy was grieving, and it made me sad.

I was thinking about that when I woke up this morning. I lay in bed a long time thinking about it, and it helped me make some sense of my life. I think I have often misdiagnosed myself as being a 'depressed' person - someone who struggles with depression. Certainly I have had bouts of it over the years. I can often 'feel' it in my head when I get that way. But depression - for me - is a more temporary condition that is a symptom of something else. For instance, when I was seeing a counselor last year, he kept trying to convince me that my depression was just one symptom of my being burned out. It wasn't 'how I was,' it came about as a result of something else. Now it makes sense. For too long I have been using two entirely different words to describe one condition.

I am not prone to depression.... but I am prone to sadness. Some people refer to it as melancholy. Certainly I am not ALWAYS sad, but I get sad when I see someone else who is sad. I get sad when I hear someone talk about their grief - whether it is losing a loved one, a misfortune that has beset them, mistreatment, etc. - but I also get sad thinking about all the hatred and violence and injustice in the world; when I see people stuck in self-destructive patterns; when I think about the criminal way politics is often carried out; when I witness manipulation and degradation of fellow human beings. Those things weigh heavy on my heart. It doesn't cause me to be 'depressed'..... it causes me to grieve! They are not two words describing the same thing.

So, I still feel bad for the poor guy who came in to change his email address. Gosh, I grieved for a long time when I had to put our dog down. It doesn't mean I am depressed about it. It means I care. It doesn't mean there is something wrong with me. It means that is how I manifest compassion for the souls around me; for the world I live in.

As I lay in bed this morning it started to rile me up a bit. There have been a number of people who have made me feel 'wrong' because they wanted me to "get over my depression." You know what? F*ck those people. I like who I am. I like that my heart hurts for other people in their grief. I like that I give a damn about not only individuals, but entire groups of people who are mistreated, misguided, or maybe even simply mistaken sometimes. I think this is how God made me, and just maybe that's how God wants me to be. It's my way of identifying with those around me... The broken, hurting, struggling people I do life with. Not that other people don't care either, but this is how I do it.

Anyway, that's what I was thinking about as I lay in bed this morning. The two are not the same thing. And maybe I'm okay after all.