Lately, after everyone has gone to bed and it’s just me and my cat Franny, I’ve been putting on soundtracks of thunderstorms and playing them in the background while reading online. It’s amazing how calming it is for me. I’ve always loved gray rainy days—I just never knew that I would like fake gray rainy days almost as much. But it got me thinking about why I love rain clouds and thunderstorms so much. It’s hard for me to put a finger on and definitively answer, but the best I can figure, it has to do with my depression.
Gray rainy days suck the color out of everything. They put a hard limit on outdoor and social activities. The weather phenomenon is used to describe negative events, such as raining on your parade. It’s generally viewed as a negative thing—and there’s probably some objective truth to that.
The thing is, that dreary lack of color and mandate to stay indoors are how I naturally view the world many days. When I’m depressed, I’m not necessarily sad—it just feels like the color’s been drained out of everything around me, and it takes any joy out of going outside and doing things. Just like rainy days, I’ll curl up with my cat and something to read and just sit in contented solitude.
Imagine a dreary gray day. It’s cold and there’s a thunderstorm looming. One of your friends call you up and asks you to join him for some drinks or dinner at a hip new downtown restaurant with a patio. Maybe afterward, you and some friends can walk around the downtown area and talk about how great your lives are as the skies are gloomy and devoid of color. Feels kind of strange, right?
That’s how I feel every depressed morning when I step outside my house and am assaulted by sunlight and bright colors. Everyone cheerfully communes together outside and socializes while I desire isolation and space. It produces a kind of cognitive dissonance in me that doesn’t really hurt me, but is nonetheless uncomfortable.
Though depression is not something I carry every day, it’s something I’ve known for my whole life. Trying to escape it or fight it just makes that dissonance worse, so I’ve learned to just embrace it. I love the rain. I listen to sad music. I fixate on morbid thoughts. There’s something about those objectively bad things that makes my mild dysphoria and endless pontifications seem a little more normal. As Kierkegaard said, “The despair that not only does not cause any inconvenience in life, but makes life convenient and comfortable, is naturally enough in no way regarded as despair.”
Rain, as well as other traditionally depressing things, have become a warm blanket that I wrap around myself to keep out the cold of the rest of the world. I’ll admit, this is probably not a normal phenomenon—but it grants a little normalcy to this chronically abnormal person. So sorry if it rains on your parade; but remember that, for some such as myself, the rain is the parade.