Apparently today is “Blue Monday”. I’m not entirely sure whether that has a solid research backing, or whether it’s yet another construct designed by a marketing company somewhere but either way, the general idea is that it’s supposed to represent the most depressing day of the year. It’s the day of the year where we’re all supposed to be feeling more blue, or down, than we will any other day of the year.
The good news is, if you feel utterly crap today, then maybe that’s as bad as it’s going to get for another 365 days, in which case yay!
The bad news is, it’ not always that simple.
Myself, and others I know, would actually quite like to feel a bit blue, because it would be a massive improvement from our average mood. It would be a breath of fresh air and some welcome relief from the crippling, seemingly never ending onslaught of depression currently taking over our lives.
When it can take hours, and a huge amount of energy, just to motivate yourself to use the bathroom, it’s not particularly surprising that more complex tasks such as getting dressed or leaving the house, can pose a rather large problem. Sometimes, as much as you try and stop it, sit with it, distract from it, ‘distress tolerance’ it, or CBT it, it doesn’t want to know and continues to hang around (also all of those things require energy which is already in short supply when depression strikes).
When this is my life, and the life of some of my friends. When we sit in front of psychiatrists who are running out of ideas, when our education, friendships, families, jobs, and relationships are all affected, and we see more of medical professionals (who, by the way, are incredible on the whole) than we do of our friends, it can be frustrating to see such a life-destroying illness being taken so lightly in order to sell things. The top tweet last time I checked was from ‘visit Florida’. If visiting Florida would fix this, then trust me, I would be on the first plane out of here (and I’m scared of flying).
You wouldn’t use a physical illness to try and sell things (I hope, although the premium put on ‘disabled friendly’ products does my head in but that’s another blog for another day), so why use a mental illness? Why would anybody in their right mind sit in a marketing room and think hmm, we could use puppies to sell this, or we could use a crippling and disabling illness which is one of the leading causes of suicide… and decided to go with the illness?
It honestly just baffles me. I don’t understand it. I hope it means that nobody in that room has encountered this crappy illness. I hope that none of their family and friends have, either. I really do, because it’s a horrible illness and the only thing worse than having it, is having it without the support of friends and family.
We really, really need to talk about depression, and in my opinion, anything that opens up that conversation can be a good thing. But I don’t think it’s helpful to minimise and invalidate an illness for the sake of selling a few holidays.
If you would like to do something proactive this “Blue Monday”, then please take a few moments to educate yourself about depression. Time to Change, Mind, and The Blurt Foundation can be brilliant places to start. It really doesn’t have to be scary (trust me, people with depression are possibly the least scary people you could ever encounter because we wouldn’t have the energy or motivation to attack you even if we wanted to). Just talk to your friends. Ask them if they’re okay (Time to Change have some help on starting a conversation). Don’t get offended if it takes them a few days, or even weeks, to reply to your messages. It really is just as simple as asking ‘are you okay?’, and genuinely caring about the answer.