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“Blue Monday” is a lie… at least for me

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According to the internet, last Monday, January 15 was the “most depressing day of the year,” which sounds like an exaggeration and a generalization, but we’ll roll with it, even though there’s no actual scientific backing behind the claim; it was originally invented by the internet, and there’s no scientific research behind the assertion (and it’s funny because, as I’m writing this, an ad on the radio is using “Blue Monday” to sell travel packages).

The reasoning behind it makes sense, I guess. According to Mirror, an online publication based in the U.K., “Blue Monday” is a day that has been haunting us annually since 2005. It’s the third Monday of January, which apparently causes universal feelings of low mood through a combination of weather (drab and wet for us B.C. dwellers), debt (from the recent holiday season), and our already failed New Year’s resolutions (kind of pessimistic, don’t you think?). But what if you enjoy winter weather, like many people actually do? What if you didn’t overspend during the holidays, and are sticking to your goals for the new year because you didn’t overload yourself with too many unattainable resolutions?

My January 15 was decidedly amazing. I did all my errands early on, completed a short story for my writing class, finished up important work for UFV’s literary magazine, and hung out with some really cool people. There were also brownies and tea involved. So, an overall success. As you can see, my day didn’t circle around feelings of sadness and low motivation; in fact, quite the opposite. It was a day of accomplishment and joy, and with that accomplishment came determination. Determination to get onto the next thing, to continue on my path of “getting my stuff in order,” which was followed by excitement for new projects and experiences that I’m looking forward to in the next few weeks. In short, I was feeling the exact opposite of how the internet told me I should.

Claiming that a day is universally depressing is detrimental to a society’s mental health. The idea behind “Blue Monday” is that it maintains the idea that you’re supposed to feel “depressed” on this day. There are two problems with this. For one, it’s the internet generalizing the audience’s feelings for them: “It’s Blue Monday, you’d better take a hard look at your life choices and feel bad about them! And what about this weather we’re having? Total garbage!” And, more obviously, it undermines what depression really is; not a day of feeling sorry for yourself for over-spending, and being annoyed with the 23rd straight day of rain, but weeks or months of low mood, loss of sleep and appetite, lack of motivation, and feelings of hopelessness.

According to the CBC, though most people are only mildly affected by the triggers of debt, weather, and failed goals, these may be huge detriments to people who are clinically depressed, which can prompt them to spiral into a depressive episode. However, there is one benefit of “Blue Monday” that has been overlooked: it creates a dialogue for mental health, and that can only be a good thing. The more we talk about mental health, the less stigma there is surrounding it, and the more people will seek help when they need it.

So, though “Blue Monday” is based on pseudo-science, and can be harmful to people who suffer from clinical depression, its creation does push us to closely examine mental health, and allows us to open up a dialogue on how to help those who are truly suffering.

Image: Flickr

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