It ain’t seasonal affective disorder.
It’s certainly not jetlag.
I didn’t take a plane.
What is my circadian clock doing?
I’ve been frustrated lately by this odd feeling. I feel it, but I don’t know precisely what I’m feeling. I can’t grasp it to decipher what it actually is. It’s like trying to explain why one feels sad during premenstrual syndrome. It may look more like an irrational mood swing with no rhyme (like my bad poetry above) or reason.
Traveling by ship, I didn’t suffer any type of jetlag because the clock only changed one hour forward/back on any given day after hitting International Dateline. Dateline was a funny experience because we repeated the same day a second time! That’s like getting a second chance to undo bad things you did the day before, or re-live moments ‘better’, as the clock gets turned back a full 24 hours.
That is tangential to my issue. I felt fine heading toward Asia with the few hours lost/gained sporadically because they were closer to the end of the sail. Returning to Canada was much more annoying because the trip started with time zone changes immediately leaving Shanghai. The changes only petered out a few days before reaching BC. Although losing an hour usually makes one more tired and want to sleep earlier, I experienced the exact opposite. I’d gain an hour, and want to sleep an hour earlier than that. With each passing day, I went to bed earlier and earlier. Sometimes I’d eat dinner, stay awake long enough to digest, and then plunk into bed at 7:30 PM. I’d wake up at 1 AM completely rested but too seasick to really get out of bed to accomplish anything. This meant continuing to roll around in bed with restless shut-eye until breakfast at 8 AM.
Arriving in BC, I felt no loss of time or sleep. I lived on a no-schedule schedule. I slept whenever I felt like it, but generally kept things similar to my usual sleep patterns when not traveling. I was in Prince Rupert for about 10 days. Then, 1-hour time zone changes again as I traveled East. Still I felt fine. I arrived home feeling okay. Truth be told, I was maybe too busy to feel any real lull or lag in my circadian rhythms. Only last week, I’ve started to come back to reality, and ‘live’ in my life rather than in my memories from the trip. So now, I feel I’ve been attacked by this bizarre thing I’m calling Seasonal Jetlag.
It’s not an hour here or there. It’s not moodiness from not having enough daylight. What I’m experiencing is this weird confusion about what season I’m in. I have a sense that it’s autumn heading into winter. The weather has been an accomplice to this, because it’s been so bloody cold the last few days. As most people are eagerly awaiting summer, I’m here anticipating the first snowfall of a season that’s already ending.
What happened? I left town as fall was ending. By the time I arrived in Vancouver, fall was again, just ending (due to the difference of east and west coast climate). I entirely missed winter save for a few evenings in Tokyo where I had to zip my jacket up to my chin. In January, I saw snow. Far away on the mountaintops of Nagano. That’s still not ‘winter’ to me.
Returning to Prince Rupert, I was bombarded by heavy rain almost every day, but temperatures mild enough to just wear a raincoat-windbreaker. Back home, I saw two major snowfalls that both melted away in a couple of days. I haven’t really felt the effects of real winter yet. My body must be so confused. But can it stop now? I’ve been home over a month. Walking around outside feeling lost isn’t only because I miss Japan. There’s something very eerie about it, like I’m not in my month, year, decade. Have I time-traveled? In a way, yes, but I was under the impression I’d gained back all the lost time. Alas, I’m obviously still deregulated. It affects my moods, my emotions, my thought patterns.
I feel sad and don’t know why. I feel confused about what to do next. Unconsciously I’m building up to that crazy snowstorm that forces me to be housebound for three days. This while everyone around me celebrates Easter, talks about their beach bodies, and prepares to finish work or school for the season. It makes me feel like an outsider. Invisible. I can walk through crowds and feel like I’m not really there. So then where am I, O Circadian Clock?
Has this ever been documented or researched? When I ask Google, I only see things specifically about jetlag and SAD (seasonal affective disorder), and this should only last a day or two before my body resets itself. I’ve been getting plenty of daylight, and have not been holing up in a cave. My Vitamin D is present. I try to sleep at regular hours but my body craves 3 PM naps. This annoying pattern makes me lazy and I often end the day upset that I’ve accomplished NOTHING.
Have any of you travelers ever experienced something like this? Should I be blaming the waves and the moon, or is this something that only began after getting off that Greyhound once and for all?