Sunday, October 16, 2011

Circadian Rhythm Disruption, or The Sunday Blues

And here it comes again: the days are shorter, I'm getting up in the dark and leaving work in the dark, and Saturday has its share of activity, and Sunday starts with a big pot of coffee and Sunday news shows and that "I'm going to get back to that (fill in the name of your) project today!" 

Then it's checking e-mail and having something to eat and the end of "The Shining" on TV, a brief nap and then... it's after 3 p.m. and the light is changing outside (where you haven't been all day), but it may not be too late to get something done. 

But it is. Yessir, it's Sunday afternoon. Again. And right on time come The Sunday Blues.

It's something I've been experiencing for years -- okay, decades -- and for the longest time I thought I was alone. Then today I decided to Google "Sunday afternoon blues" and discovered page after page about this disorder and its possible causes. (In addition to other blog entries about the malady, some poetry, even music: The Jack Rabbit Slims and even Eine Blues-Interpredation nach einem Jam-Track im Double Trouble Style, which is pretty good.) But there was also an article from the NY Times called "It's Sunday Afternoon and Here Come the Blahs", which includes a number of scientific/medical/psychological theories about the causes of TSAB, including one from as far back as 1919 by a Hungarian psychiatrist, Sandor Ferenczi, who noticed a weekly resurfacing of repressed memories among his patients.

There's also information about circadian rhythm and how the electric light bulb disrupted centuries-old human sleep patterns, and theories of seven-day rhythms in humans, internal clocks resetting, and so on.

But there are also plenty of quotes from just folks (mostly women who are reportedly the most affected by TSAB), all of whom describe exactly what I'm feeling right now. E.g. Rory Stockel who works for HBO and says "I know part of it is anxiety about the coming week... But it is also a lonely, empty, sad kind of thing that grabs me every Sunday about 3 o'clock." 

There was once a female comic, whose name I've forgotten* but whom we'll call Mary, who used to tell stories about her everyday life and then ask the audience "Have you ever felt that way?" At which she'd pause and then say "No, Mary, just you." For years when I talked to people about my Sunday blues and asked if they had ever experienced the phenomenon, they would shake their heads "No" and I'd think, "No, Fred, just you."

But it turns out that once again I find I'm not alone. Still blue, but I have company.

*In my search for the name of this female comic, I came upon the website of a woman I'd forgotten about, Maria Bamford (her website is here) who I recall being hysterical -- and the memories are correct. In one of the clips on the site she says "I never really thought of myself as depressed as much as paralyzed by hope!"

Maybe that's it...

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