the gray

It's been a while since I've felt myself slipping under the familiar Gray Cloud, but there you have it:

I'm officially depressed. 

I'm not looking for sympathy, though. I'm writing this because A. Sometimes it helps me to write about the things that bother me, and B. Sometimes it helps other people if I do so. I'm depressed, though, so I'm not feeling too hopeful :)

See what I did there -- with that smiley face? I acknowledged that life is funny. It is. Life is funny and good and full of joy and the fractal light of the Divine, and just because I don't feel it right at this moment, that doesn't mean I don't know that it's there. But who cares? Because when the Gray Cloud's there... there it is!

It's like that Emily Dickinson poem "Pain Has an Element of Blank."

Pain has an element of blank
It cannot recollect
When it began, or if there was a time
When it was not.

It has no future but itself
Its infinite realms contain
Its past, enlightened to perceive
New periods of pain.

I wrote a whole story about that in my book and titled the story "It has no future but itself," on account of I love the way Dickinson captured how you have to be in an experience in order to understand it emotionally and existentially.

Gotta write it down before I get over it, and forget. 

So... what is this? Where does it come from?

There was an inciting incident, of course -- the thing that set me off. But it's almost irrelevant what that was, since this is an emotional affliction, only indirectly linked to the circumstances of my life. While the Gray Cloud will use the things in my life to build its inner storm, my more rational self knows I've got it pretty sweet. 

What matters is what it feels like, though, and what it feels like is... Gray. 

Like, my arms feel heavy. Sodden. The skin between my eyebrows feels weighted -- but not by gravity, since it seems to be pressing in toward the center of my head. My eyes want to cry, I think, but can't seem to muster up the energy. 

There's a low-grade anxiety, too. Like, the sense that something bad is just about to happen, and although I can make out the fuzzy edges of what it is, it won't quite break through and come clear. I feel restless, as though there's something better or more interesting that I ought to be doing, even though I've got a fairly strong sense that it wouldn't do any good. 

All of this makes me feel super-alone, and to wonder and wonder and wonder why I can't seem to just do the things that I know will make me feel better. Things like:
  • Making things. Writing or painting or even singing. 
  • Exercising... and more than just one chin-up once a day, when I pass my chin-up bar. 
  • Communing with other humans. In person. With our faces.
  • Becoming still. Meditating. Slowing and listening. Praying.
Maybe it's because even though my intellect knows that these things will help, when I feel like this, my emotions (dirty traitors that they are) sullenly protest that it just ain't so. 

I'm running out of things to say about this. Normally I'd be looking for some pithy way to end the post -- something that would tie it all together and make sense of it.

Instead I'm just going to taper off with a whimper.

Because that's what it's like, under the Gray Cloud.

- - -


The post above was written at the tail end of about two weeks of gray. Then yesterday afternoon I had a great skype-talk with my philosopher/surfer friend in Nova Scotia, I spent some quality play-time with my son, and had Dave Matthews and Grover sing to me about Feelings. So... the cloud is dissipating.


  1. Speaking of gray, in my neck of the woods most people, both male and female now ware either gray or black clothing. I attended an art-house film festival recently. In the large ticket office space B4 the evening sessions started there was 2-300 people - 95% of them were in black or gray.
    I find this quite strange especially as the range of colours now available is wider than ever B4.
    By contrast, when you see pictures of African women they are always dressed in brightly colored clothing.
    A huge percentage of cars are now gray - well over 60%.

    Perhaps this grayness is a reflection of the signs of the times?
    and reinforces too!

    1. Or a sign of American times, perhaps. Perhaps the wages of wealth and ease are anxiety, fear, and depression. Welcome to America. Here's your money. please step up to the nozzle to be painted gray.

  2. Great post. I appreciate the transparency as a blessing. I read something yesterday (and have now scraped my entire web history to no avail in search of it) about how emotional maturity is embracing the black / gray at times without guilt, shame, or fear. I wish I could remember where I read it (ha).

    In my own personal journey as a woman and mother, I have finally arrived at an important milestone that is banishing some previously held misperceptions about hormones and emotions... i.e., I thought maybe I was just slightly "off" at times and in certain ways, and although that certainly is a reality at times in life, I have recently found the root cause of many ills for me: diet. What lead me to the discovery was being fed up with a battle I have suffered through for years with acne.

    Long (tmi) story short, I finally (finally finally!) have figured out that what I have put into my body over and over and over has messed up my digestion and therefore screamed for help all the way out to my skin, all the while rocking my hormones and making me feel crappy at times as a result. The culprit for my body's makeup is likely dairy - although for 6 weeks I removed all gluten (wheats), dairy, coffee, alcohol, and birth control. Basically vegetables and clean meats and water with some nuts. Not even any fruits at first - to kill off all the candida I had been feeding by eating junk and taking antibiotics off and on for years. I made myself go to bed to get 1-2 hours more of sleep and kept up my exercise even though I felt like shit. All of a sudden I was a new, beautifully radiant woman from the inside out.

    When I decided to reintroduce most of them recently, bam - felt awful, depressing / anxious feelings and acne all over again. Now I know.

    Just sharing in case you ever consider and want to try.... regardless, thank you for sharing this.

    1. Thanks for the suggestion, Kristi.

      Perhaps when I'm feeling up to it, I'll give it a whirl. Definitely gonna stop taking those birth control pills right now, though :)


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