May 24, 2012 by
Categories: Hanging on

Yesterday was a hard day. I woke up with this impending sense of doom. A doom that I can best describe to you as a heavy black cloud that I knew would be following me around all day.

I did my best to outrun this cloud. I really did. Unfortunately, I fell down a few times and got caught in the downpour. It hurt and I could feel that hurt in the very core of my being. I felt derailed…something that it is hard for me to admit to you and to myself.

These days are rare for me and when I experience them I feel that I am at a loss for words. I suffer from some sort of mental paralysis. The plans that I have for the day go out the window. Every task that I attempt seems to crumble  right in front of me.

I never know what to do when I am stuck under the black cloud so I just run as fast as I can. It always amazes me that when I am on the other side of the black cloud I look back and realize that I didn’t really reach out to anyone. For some reason, I cannot bring myself to reach out and let someone be with me…mostly because I do not want my cloud to reach over and engulf them as well. It’s a strange protective thing that I do. I shield others from my pain/grief/sadness/hurt.

At some point between last night and this morning the cloud went away. I don’t know how or why but it did. As I sit here and write this post I am grateful for that because I know all to well that this cloud is not a fleeting moment/day for many people like mine usually is. There are people who wake up with a black cloud over their head more often than not.

I recently read a memoir entitled Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness by William Styron. To put it simply, it was eye opening.  I never before (in any course or therapy session) gained such insight into what it is like to live in chronic depression. The author’s account of his own experiences reminded me of the fact that not everyone can run as fast as I did yesterday…sometimes it is more like a desperate crawl. It is not because they do not want to sprint. It is because something has enslaved them…

“It is hopelessness even more than pain that crushes the soul.” -William Stryon

We all suffer and struggle. Sometimes in different ways but we all do. What is important to remember is that we have not failed in our derailment. There are people who realize this and want to run with you through the black heavy cloud. Allow them to do so to the best of your ability. We are not designed to go through life alone. 

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3 Thoughts About Derailed

  • Lauren
    May 24, 2012 at 9:58 am Reply

    Thank God for loving friends who will be with us through that dark, heavy cloud! Makes me want to do this,

  • j;
    May 30, 2012 at 11:42 pm Reply


    Fascinating post. I often times experience thunder storm days, and absolutely love this metaphor. But here are some thoughts i had upon reading your post–please excuse an element of the scatter-brained or incoherence–i’lll try to order my thoughts according the structure of your post. (Please excuse my excess of metaphorical language but i find it to be particularly useful, in this case.)

    Most importantly, why is it so important to ‘outrun the cloud’? Thunder storms are as much a part of the weather as any other weather pattern. In fact, i find them to be more expressive and free, and therefore more comfortable. What is so terrible and ruinous about “black clouds”? I very much understand that it can be a difficult, grey day; I think one can easily sense the approaching emotions, mood, or psychological state that you’re talking about–i often do. And though i understand the desire to stave off such weather, why do we/you?

    Getting caught in a downpour is actually one of the most honest, truest sensations i’ve ever experienced. For many physical and psychological reasons, a terrific storm, complete with nearly-painful rain, tempestuous winds, and soul-sundering thunder, forces one to surrender to the moment, to let go of feelings/considerations that hang on us like stifling fleece clothing. Being caught in a storm means a confrontation with our safe, normative selves and allowing the Me Myself to experience the moment, whether it be tempting/daring the physical dangers of the weather, or allowing ourselves to admit that sunny-day-turned-to-violent-storms–those emotions of pain, grief, isolation, quietude, removal from others–are as equally a part of our Selves as the part that seeks peace, comfort, and calm.
    This metaphor of losing yourself to the violent storm reminds me of Edmund Burke’s essay on the Beautiful and the Sublime. According to Burke, the beautiful, which is obviously desirous, is less powerful than we are, is aesthetic, is considered (all adjectives that can also describe our construction of a personal “identity”). But the Sublime is that which is far greater than us–endangers us, even–and is very much apart of Nature and the natural. The Sublime is powerful and overwhelming, represented in 19th century painting by vast chasms in the earth or storms over the ocean or great misty mountainscapes. But the Sublime is also true, great–divine, even–and was/is a metaphor for the heroic, Romantic god-man of Geothe, Wordsworth, and Blake.
    And so i would say that perhaps one should consider the alternative: to stop running from the storm; to see it approaching on the horizon the way a bedouin predicts the arrival of a sand storm (which are also profoundly amazing, just watch the Deserts episode of Planet Earth) and to stand solid, even if unsure, and great/challenge/accept the storm as an equal part of nature and ourself. This, i feel, is a more honest way to deal with one’s self.

    Even Lauren’s comment, which includes a link to the familiar “Lean On Me” by Club Nouveau, is fascinating. The lyrics of the song imply that we already recognize those times when we will not be strong–when the storm comes and we, as its conduits and bearers, must commit to it and be lost to the painfully large drops of rain and bone-cleaning wind–recognize them as natural parts of life, both for ourselves and others.

    And so, in a strong, humorous and beautifully powerful comparison to your quote by William Stryon, i offer this quote by the one and only King Lear:

    “Blow winds and crack your cheeks! Rage, blow!
    You cataracts and hurricanoes spout
    Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks!”
    King Lear, act III, scene ii.

    The figure of old king lear, frail and white-headed, standing alone on the tumultuous, tempestuous moors, challenging the violent storm is a powerful, uplifting, universal image i think we all can use as iconic advice.

  • Kristyn
    May 31, 2012 at 8:33 am Reply

    Thank you so much for your comments. I often forget how beautiful the thunderstorms can be. There is a potent truth to being caught in a downpour…we are left standing in the middle of a chaotic moment in which we are forced to face to take a deep look at ourselves. Sincerely, thank you for that reminder.

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