Monday, September 27, 2010

Circumstancial Sadness

Depression eats at me like that fat kid, of which I was/am one, in a pie eating contest with two forks. Once he gets going, there's no way to stop him and, at some point, he's forgotten why he started but just wants to finish the job.

Did you ever play with magnets when you were a kid? I did. I remember when I first discovered magnetic polars, or whatever the proper scientific term is, and their need to repel or attract. I remember forcing the opposing forces together. Sometimes, depending on the strength of the magnet, successfully flat against each other. Other times mistakenly shooting one of the two across the room with the same force.

It's less a game and more a life necessity these days but, that's how I am with joy. There are days when I wake up, the magnets are facing the right direction and the joy clings to me as if I was it's daddy. There are other days where I try so hard to cling to the joy that the opposing energy shoots me so far away from it that there seem to be days that go by before I find that little magnetic speck of joy again. Of course, there's also every situation in between.

Today joy and I shot off in opposite directions. But never too far away. Sure, I took two naps today simply to avoid the sadness. Kristin and I talk about depression a lot around here but I think it's really more sadness. I tend to think of depression as a condition requiring treatment or a good kick in the butt. Whereas sadness is the way we were meant to feel given the circumstances we're in. So, again, twice today Kristin and I laid down to take a nap because we were so incredibly sad. Tonight, and through the day actually, I also experienced joy.

I've discovered something new. It's possible, and for me seems probable, to feel joy and sadness at the same time. The cancer is still terminal and someday the romance between Kristin and myself will be forced to end. That's sadness. But at the same time I rejoice and find exceeding joy in each day with her, in every holding of her hand. When I'm depressed I am inconsolable. It means my medication isn't working correctly or I've just been overwhelmed by the weight (that is not a fat joke) of it all.

Before one of our naps today Kristin said, and I'm paraphrasing in spite of the fact that I'm using quotes, "I feel bad because I want to go lay down and listen to music... because I'm depressed." That sentence, badly paraphrased as it is, was what started this proverbial ball rolling. She has no reason to feel bad about herself for wanting to press pause on the blu-ray player of life now and then. In fact, in her situation, it's surprising she doesn't just press stop now and then. Her reaction is not only normal, it's healthy.

It's OK to be sad. We all get sad. As long as we deal with our sadness in a healthy way it's actually very normal and can be healing. (OK, maybe some of this was inspired by the season premier of Dexter... Thank you bittorrent.) When we're depressed, when the suffering builds to a boiling point, it won't go away and you can't find the tools to deal with it, then you seek out help. You find tools and you face your demons with the help you find. But when we're sad we should experience it. Be that by taking a nap listening to the sound track to Wicked or drawing or talking to a friend. Whatever we do, we need to acknowledge and accept that we are sad.

Sadness does not have to stand alone either. Unlike depression, which can consume your life, sadness is just at the forefront of our psyche for a little while and can share that space with anger, happiness, joy, love, lust and a bevy of emotions which I shall choose not to list further as I've just used the word bevy in a sentence and think that cuts me some slack on the examples.

For me, sadness is a lot like happiness in that it can be very circumstantial. I'm sad because I'm broke and dying. I'm sad because I have to stop giving out bracelets because I can't afford them anymore. I'm sad because I can't give my wife the things I would like to give her. But I'm happy because the chemo is almost kinda working. I'm happy because my dog smiles at me when I come through the door. I'm happy because my wife loves me even when I have gas. On top of all that I choose to be joyful because my wife would marry me all over again. I choose to find joy in that I feel I've impacted others with some of the things God has taught me through this experience. I choose joy because the other options aren't pretty.

Have I rambled? A bit. But I take joy in the fact that I know someone, somewhere, will read this and be helped by it. Even if it's just me tomorrow morning. (Writte at 12:26am.)

Oh, and don't forget to check out Kristin's store The Joy of Glass over at!


Jan said...

Thank you son. It was important for me to hear that.

Ronnie said...