Why Sunday Nights Stink, or How We try to Escape Depression
Why is Sunday night the cruelest night of the whole week to a person with depression? You would think that all nights would be bad with depression, which is basically true. But I think, without a doubt, Sunday nights are the worst.
I remember that when I was depressed, Sunday nights seemed like the absolute pit of despair. They were even worse, in some ways, than Monday morning. The cause boiled down to one thing: escapism. If you work or go to school, weekends are, for the most part, the only time you can use escapism to, well, escape from depression.
Everyone has their favorite ways to mentally escape from the world. Over the years I utilized several types of escapism to help me forget about my depression. At the top of the list was books, almost any kind of book except non-fiction reading, unless it was really interesting. I read sci-fi, mysteries, fantasy, romance and just your basic non-genre fiction. Of course, since I majored in English Literature in college, I also loved Charles Dickens and Jane Austen.
Then there were movies that I would use as tickets away from my life, the best being movies that took place in the past. The further away they took me from real life, the better. For a while I immersed myself in movies from the 1930s through the 1940s with Bette Davis, Clark Gable and Cary Grant. Then I went through a 1950s Doris Day and Tony Randall type of romantic comedy phase. Nothing really bad ever happened in their worlds (well, maybe Bette Davis’s world).
More recently, since the early 1990s, I used computer games to get through the occasional bout of mild depression. As you can imagine, puzzle or brain-teasers were not my favorites. No, I immersed myself in role-playing games and adventure games (which are often more like books than games). One of my favorite adventure game series was Gabriel Knight, and one of my all-time favorite role-playing games was Betrayal at Krondor.
At certain points in my life, I used less benign forms of escapism, like drinking and partying. Since those activities were strictly limited to the weekends, relying on them definitely made Sunday nights tough. Just one reason they’re not a good way to escape depression.
Then, of course, there’s falling in love and sex as means of escapism. Those lend themselves to an even more depressing Sunday night, since chances are good that you can’t see the new love (or lust) or your life during the week.
So, in my mind, that’s why Sunday night can be so rough when you’re depressed. You know you’re going to have limited time during the week to pursue your favorite form of escapism, and it’s a long five days until Friday.
I think also that we know that there must be something better than only feeling good on the weekends, or the brief times during the week when we can escape with a book or movie.
So what’s your favorite form of escapism? Do you hate Sunday nights as much as I did when I was depressed?
Deborah Gray wrote about depression as a Patient Expert for HealthCentral. She lived with undiagnosed clinical depression, both major episodes and dysthymia, from childhood through young adulthood. She was finally diagnosed at age 27, and since that time, her depression has been successfully managed with medication and psychotherapy.