No, not the New Order song … that’s actually gold! I’m talking about this concept that this day, the third Monday in January, aka Blue Monday, is the most depressing day of the year.
A couple of years ago I posted an article from the CBC that stated how Blue Monday is a concept made up by a now defunct marketing company to sell vacation packages. The company used a calculation that showed the third Monday of January as being the most depressing day of the year, and they even hired a “professor” (I use air quotes because his credentials were questionable) from a university to back it up.
This concept of Blue Monday spread like wildfire. Soon media outlets were jumping on the bandwagon to promote Blue Monday. One morning show here in Toronto played board games on air to in efforts to beat the Blue Mondays. I’m (not) sorry to say, board games and vacations don’t help in healing depression.
When I posted the article I had called bullshit on Blue Monday because to say this one day is the most depressing day of the year undermines anyone else’s experience of depression on any other day. It posits depression as something casual and fleeting and is easy to snap out of.
The post was well received by most, save for one particular woman who attacked me and then recruited a friend to get in on the action. I never met either of these women, though I had mutual Facebook friends with the instigator and we worked in the same industry. She minced my words, and although we were both advocating for mental health, she made it sound like I was saying depression and mental illness are made up concepts.
Let me be very clear here:
MENTAL ILLNESS IS A SERIOUS ISSUE, and thus should be treated like one!
In fact, it’s so serious that to say one day in particular is “the most depressing day of the year” can potentially be detrimental to one’s healing. This is the issue I have Blue Monday.
To be honest, the aftermath of the infamous Blue Monday post post fucked. me. right. up! Everyone was watching the argument on my wall and I felt like my reputation was ruined and my credibility destroyed. Texts and private messages came from people in my defence, but the damage was done. I was humiliated. I questioned my words. I questioned my worth. I even questioned my ability to support people on their journey.
At the time I had a voice on social media. I confidently shared content that I personally felt connected to, and the feedback I received was encouraging. People would tell me how helpful they found my posts. But after that Blue Monday incident I started to question everything. I began posting less until I stopped all together. I was scared to say anything. I didn’t want to be misunderstood or embarrassed like that again.
Each year following, Blue Monday became a trigger for me. In my head and in my body it played over and over as if it was happening for the first time. I would scroll through the socials and see people speak so casually about mental illness. “Today’s the most depressing day of the year. Here’s a cat video to cheer you up!” (Side bar: I love cat videos, but that doesn’t help one deal with depression or sadness … I know this first hand.) I wouldn’t dare say anything when I saw those posts out of fear of another social media teardown. I had silenced myself because of the infamous Blue Monday post and that made me feel even worse.
But now I have to speak out. I woke up this morning and this post just poured out of me. I questioned myself. Is it a good idea to post this? Is it timely? Does it make sense? And the answer is yes. The concept of Blue Monday is still out there. People still believe and promote today as the most depressing (some media outlets are now saying “saddest”) day of the year.
So what am I getting at in this post? Two things:
- I’m not silencing myself anymore!
- The concept of Blue Monday is bullshit and (as I’ve stated numerous times) MENTAL ILLNESS IS A SERIOUS ISSUE!
The whole reason for talking about mental health and mental wellness is to remove the stigma, lift the conversation, and include everyone. The concept of Blue Monday makes it seem like one form of mental illness is “more serious” than another, and this, my friends, only perpetuates the problem. It keeps people in the dark and it doesn’t support healing.
Yes, absolutely, you can use today as a day to remind people of the importance of mental wellness. Today, go ahead and tell someone who is experiencing depression and anxiety that they’re not alone and they can reach out for help. But don’t do it in a way that makes *today* seem different than any other day, because for some it’s not. The depression they feel today is the same thing they felt yesterday and may be the same thing they’ll feel tomorrow and for weeks, months, or even years to come. Who are we to quantify someone else’s experience?
The concept of Blue Monday must stop! We need to stop calling this day the most depressing/saddest day of the year and take into consideration how that language makes others feel. We need to work together and support one another. We need to join forces and support each other on our healing journey.
If you’re feeling sad, I see you. If you’re feeling stuck or lost or scared, I SEE YOU. Believe me when I say this: there is a light inside you that never goes out and the world is waiting to bask in its glow. Remember, you are divinely loved and your healing is in your hands.
I love you,