Sick and Tired of Gray

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops a depressing drippy gray scene of her daughter who died, as part of her coping strategy for dealing with seasonal affective disorder.It’s barely even November. And already I’m sick and tired of gray. But the days keep getting shorter, darker, colder, and grayer. Endless gray. Overburdening gray that brings everyone dropping to their knees, howling for light. And here in Central New York, we have six more months of grim gray ahead of us. This makes me want to hole up at home in front of the TV, bingeing on Netflix and spaghetti.

All this gray is dull, boring, dingy. Maybe even dirty. It is lifeless, or life without color. But then, gray is the color of everything when you are grieving.

It’s the color of concrete. Of old hair. Storm clouds. Ash. Lead. Gunmetal. Neither black nor white, gray is a neutral non-color that is deathly quiet. And depressing. It’s got nothing to do with the rest of the world where friends text you jolly pictures of themselves guzzling bubbly pink margaritas with their golden super-stuffed tacos and garishly decorated cupcakes, oblivious to the frigging cold and wet and gray.

Gray is the color our brains turn when dead.

Is anyone else suffering from seasonal affective disorder?

This is what I’ve tried that helped: Running outside with upturned face whenever the sun cracks through the clouds. Spending my waking hours next to a light-therapy lamp. Escaping to sunny islands in the Caribbean. Escaping to the movies or into a captivating novel. Taking up a new hobby or project, like hiking, preferably outside, although tramping through Walmart works too. Hugging a puppy or a baby. Hugging the one you love. Hanging out with people who make you laugh. Exercising, so your brain pumps out more pleasure-producing endorphins. Falling in love (it was a long time ago but it worked).

It’s a dismal gray autumn in Upstate New York, and I’m using every ounce of my creativity to try to change my perspective. I will find a way to make gray beautiful. I’m going to love it. If, years ago I learned to love my life even though my daughter—the light of my life—died, then I can learn to love gray.


Got any advice? What helps you the most in coping with seasonal affective disorder?

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6 thoughts on “Sick and Tired of Gray

  1. Pam

    Hi Robin, I’ve always been affected by ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’, apparently a real affliction. When i tried to understand it as an adult it seemed to be partly due to my relatively poor eyesight, so that everything is simply a little harder to see or discern in the gloom, which in turn places a lot of stress on the mind. Very recently I came across the Danish, or maybe more generally Scandinavian, concept of ‘hygge’, which is an entire cultural experience many Danes practice in their famously grey and chilly winters. You can read a lot about it online (e.g.,, and there are also video clips, but one key feature is lighting of candles or tea lights throughout one’s living space. Seeing that, I realized it is an organic way of shining light into dark places when it’s harder to see. I think hygge in its entirety is a great idea.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Yow, Pam. Hygge. I love it. Definitely got to find ways to integrate this into my winter life here in Ithaca. Candles, and marshmallows in hot chocolate, and lots of firelight and warmth. Warm woolen socks. Wine. Food with friends. What on earth could be wrong with all that?!? Just looking at the web images alone have made me feel inspired and happier. Thanks. I may even have to blog about this hygge after I’ve tried it a bit. Might even contact my friend in Denmark to see what she does for hygge. Yow. I’m smiling just saying the word, silly as it looks. Looking forward to seeing you at Victoria’s this next Thursday where we might need to spread the word. Oooops. I guess I better go advertise that Third Thursday. Thanks for helping me remember. Cheers!

  2. Elaine Mansfield

    The sun is out today. A treat!! I’m OK with gray until it’s mixed with ice. Yesterday, in the rain, I visited local waterfalls. I could have stopped 10 more places because waterfalls poured out of cliffs along Rt. 14 and 414 where they hadn’t been before. More rain expected this week, so the waterfalls will keep fflowing. If I go outside and walk through the woods, I find intense green moss and a few red leaves (not many). We can always pretend we live in Ireland. I have not found light therapy lamps helpful. I don’t love mid winter trips to sunny places because travel can be a crap shoot–and then I have to return to snow and gray. I’d rather travel in March. Playing with color and photography helps me, too. And being outside no matter what the weather, a combination of exercise and air. I have to go outside before more clouds roll in.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Oh, those days the sun comes out. Unfortunately not nearly as numerous as the gray rainy days. OMG it is so wet out there that even the historically dry trails, the ones you could always count on to not be muddy, are a major mess. I just got back from a hike on Connecticutt Hill and the little dog and I were muddy and soaked and cold and not too inclined to go anywhere else until May. I know what you mean about traveling. Returning to gray Ithaca after just a weekend in Florida can send me into a deep depression. So the little dog and I get out whenever we dare. This morning I had to remove ice balls from her fuzzy feet. We’re just hoping for more sun. Less precipitation. Springtime. Meanwhile, I’m getting back to my light-therapy lamp. I don’t know yet if it’s doing any good but I love sitting by it. Cheers, Elaine.

  3. Lynne Taetzsch

    I don’t mind the gray so much. In fact, I found it hard to live in San Diego where every day was another sunny day. I’m weird, I know.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Lynne, I’ve heard similar things from people before. So I don’t think you’re weird. And I can hardly wait for the day I’m living in a sunny place like San Diego, so I, too, can find the sun boring or a nuisance or whatever else could possibly be thought of that beautiful light.


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