a rhythm that does not seem to fit in this world
For years, I myself have suffered from a rhythm that does not seem to fit in this world. And for years I've forced myself to go to bed on time, and get up on time. Is that easy? No often not. And it happened very regularly that I did not sleep at night because I was once again not tired enough to sleep, or because my rhythm disappeared again. It has been a struggle for years to 'live normal times'.
What I do know is that my biological clock is much more set to be an evening person. I often sit blankly, staring in front of me, in the morning hours. Knowing that I have to do everything. And it's not that I don't want to, I just don't function well in those moments. In the afternoon the energy starts flowing, and I can move mountains, and in the evening I am often very productive with writing and other things I have to do…
Most cases your boss expects you early in the morning
However, the fact is that if you have to go to work, in most cases your boss expects you to arrive at work early in the morning, fresh and fruity. And the intention is not that you first sit blankly in front of you for an hour or more. The intention is really that you start with your work.
What I did before when I still had to go to my boss every day was just get up about 2 hours earlier. Then I would have had my time to 'wake up' after all. Because believe me, it's not nice if you have to push contact lenses into your sleeping eyes that are still half closed. That can sometimes go wrong and that has already cost me several contact lenses, because those bitches are so small that I can no longer see them if they fall. And if you accidentally step on it in your search ... then such a contact lens really does not survive.
I just wasn't tired
Okay, so getting up 2 hours before I had to go to work. But that wasn't an easy task either because how did I manage to get out of bed while my biological clock was still in sleep mode? The only way is to go to sleep on time, so that you have had the necessary hours of sleep. But there was a problem… because I wasn't tired when I should have gone to bed. And just lying awake in your bed will only make you more restless. So don't sleep for another night. Then you will certainly be tired enough the next night to go to sleep on time.
And I was always so happy when I was on vacation. The hard work to maintain a normal rhythm was over, and within 2 days I was living mainly in the evenings again. Go to bed late and get up later. That seems to be my natural rhythm.
The first one
The first depression I got, I didn't look for or see any connections between that rhythm and the depression. At that time we were in a difficult period with a sick father and a sick mother. Knowing that we were both going to lose them both to the diseases, I was unemployed because of those circumstances. Financially it was not a party and my world started to become very small. All in all, I thought that these were enough explanations for the depression I was in. Don't feel like doing anything anymore, and just feel worthless. The feeling that you prefer to stay in your bed all day and do nothing more. No energy and… well, just nothing at all. A miserable feeling that I wouldn't wish on anyone, but which I know many people recognize.
Slowly, over time, things got better again. And I found my energy again. I got pleasure in my life again. Financially, things got a little better, and the depression faded into the background. I had also found work again and everything seemed to be going better.
The second one
Until, completely unexpectedly, in 2018 a new depression surfaced. Or was it just the same depression that had waited for years for a moment of weakness in my defenses, which had simply laid in wait to strike again mercilessly? I don't know, this time I recognized it much earlier being a depression… and started looking for connections with what was going on. Because even now the conditions were not optimal for me. Financially it was bad again, but it had been that way for a while, and yet I hadn't let that put me off before.
I had become a night owl again
I started looking for what had changed and discovered that I had allowed myself to let go of my unnatural rhythm. That meant I had become an evening/night person again. I went to bed later and later and got up later. And I hadn't done that all those years before, when I didn't suffer from depression! Yes, once in a while I slept late. But in general I had lived in the life of when I had to go to work, the rhythm my partner has to maintain through his work. I kept going with that. Get up on time and go to bed on time. And I had let that go.
You have to help yourself when suffering from depression
Would it be the answer, get back on an unnatural rhythm? Could it be that simple… At least, easy to explain. But tricky to tackle. I started experimenting for myself, because believe me, a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, they can all say things to you. But the help with depression really has to come from within yourself. YOU are the one who has to solve it. YOU are the one who has to do it. You have to learn to love yourself, to find yourself worthy. And find joy in your life again. No one else can do that for you. That's one of the hardest things to realize, but once you get there, it changes an essential part of you.
And I decided I was worth living, to enjoy, to have fun. Even if I didn't have a job, even if I didn't earn a cent… I was and am worth being happy! So as simple as it sounds, I went to bed on time again, and got up a little earlier each time. Not suddenly back into my partner's rhythm, that was a bridge too far. And at that point things got so bad between the two of us that we were on the verge of breaking up. (Which I thought was causing my depression).
My biological clock had to learn
Yet, I went back to work to change my natural rhythm. My biological clock had to learn to get tired earlier and to get up earlier. And after six months I was back in a rhythm of getting up at the same time as my partner and going to bed with him again. But not only that, in that half year I also noticed that I started to feel better myself, while the situation had remained unchanged, the threat still hung over my head that we would not make it together. It was still bad financially, and on top of that Rowan got sick. My biggest support and rock in these difficult times. Still, I was stronger than ever, and I was able to deal with the situation.
I persevered to keep working on my rhythm, and as I felt better myself, and therefore could react more positively… the situation also changed. My relationship with my partner continued to improve. We found each other again.
Unfortunately, I had to let Rowan go in December 2019, but what I feared didn't happen this time. I didn't fall back into depression. Of course, I was sad for Rowan, and I still miss my great white friend. But above all, I am grateful for what he has given me. Without him, I would not have won the battles against depression. He was there for me unconditionally when I needed him most.
After this second period in my life, in which I had to deal with depression, I started looking. Because, somehow I got the feeling that this could have something to do with your biological clock. If I look at my own experience, I have little to no problems with depression when my rhythm is 'normal', and that I almost certainly have a relapse when I keep my natural rhythm for a longer period of time. Then that has a cause, and the situation you are in is not the cause. I'm not saying that situation even becomes a consequence. But even that is possible in some cases. I know it was for me in 2018.
An article describing a scientific study
So far I had found little to strengthen my theory. But this week I happened to spot an article describing a scientific study. And that research shows that genes determine whether you are a morning or evening person. That's one thing that made me happy to read. Because it is not the case that it is 'your own fault if you have trouble with the rhythm of getting up early and going to bed early again'. Even though, that is often suggested by people who never suffer from it. But what I found even more interesting is that the genes that make you a morning person also influence certain receptors that ensure better mental health. And that this ensures that morning people generally suffer much less from depression!
Keep my biological clock running on time
It is of course a combination of many things. But reading this actually confirmed my suspicion. MY own natural rhythm makes me much more sensitive to those depressions. And it's not like this has ever gone away, though I thought so. And it is always accepted. No, it's in me… and the only way I can keep it at bay is to keep my biological clock running on time.