“Comms are on the phone, Lauren. Can you give them a press release for Blue Monday?”
I look up from the pile of papers, reports and the ever-growing waiting list and sigh deeply. I am way too professional to swear but I can eye-roll like a demon.
We go through the media and commercial love of Blue Monday every year. They love it. The notion that there is one single day that is more depressing than any other day.
Like cards and flowers on Valentine’s Day, it sells things. Holidays; meals out; a new bra; ‘motivational maps’; diet plans; pamper boxes; spa breaks.
It also reduces understanding of mental health down to something worse than a Cosmo Quiz (ref my blog on the nonsense of Personality Testing).
Never has Blue Monday felt more ridiculous, facile, stigmatising and dangerous than on January 17th 2022.
We’re at the peak of the Omicron-fuelled fourth wave of covid. We can’t cover our services due to staff absence. Health and social care are in meltdown. People are traumatised, grieving, angry and struggling. Staff are exhausted. Politicians are showing little leadership or integrity. Energy bills, the cost of living and poverty are rising at an alarming rate.
Blue Monday? I want to get my Gnu out his stable for comedic effect. At the very least, for a wildebeest-ly cuddle.
Gnu’s are awesome.
Blue Monday however is utter Gnu Poop.
What is Blue Monday?
Every year an equation pops up, telling us that the third Monday in January is the most depressing day of the year. Very quickly the day earned the ubiquitous title ‘Blue Monday.’
Its creator, Dr Cliff Arnall actually devised the equation (and the name) as a marketing gimmick for a travel firm to help them sell holidays in January.
He has since distanced himself from the frenzy, admitting it is meaningless hokum.
The ludicrous equation (see my analogous ‘Gnu Monday Equation’) uses ‘weather,’ ‘debt,’ ‘monthly salary,’ ‘time since Christmas,’ and ‘time since failing our new year’s resolutions’ – arbitrary variables that are impossible to quantify and largely incompatible – to claim there are a reliable set of external factors that cause depression in an entire population at the same time.
Let’s Talk About Depression
Blue Monday is a parody. An oversimplification of the complexities of real-life experiences, the causes and multi-factorial interplay of behaviour, thoughts, emotion, experience and biology.
Anyone who has ever known true clinical depression tells you about the never-ending low energy, elusive sleep, accompanying thoughts that life is no longer worth living. They describe the difficulties they have concentrating on what have previously been straightforward tasks. They tell you about the pervasive sadness, that lasts for weeks on end, the devastating impact it has on them and those around them.
Depression is a serious, but treatable mental illness which takes time to recover from. Which is not to say that hope, good food, exercise, fresh air, connecting with people, self-care and self-help (websites, apps, videos, helpful reading) don’t have their place in promoting good mental health. Of course they do.
What I am saying is that a ludicrous equation aimed at getting us to buy things perpetuates stigma and discrimination and undermines compassion as well as our understanding about mental health.
Fortunately, I am not a lone voice in opposing Blue Monday.
The Samaritans have taken positive action and aim to transform Blue Monday into ‘Brew Monday.’ They organise (and encourage us to organise) ‘tea and chats’ up and down the UK.
What a fantastic idea. There is no down-side to reaching out and connecting with family, friends, colleagues and loved ones.
“We can always make time for a cuppa and a catch-up. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Monday morning or Saturday night, or if you’re drinking green tea, black coffee or orange juice. If you’re sharing a cuppa and listening, you’re doing it right.”
I couldn’t agree more.
‘Gnu Monday’ (©laurenlloyd2022)
Now we come to the WHOLE POINT OF THE BLOG!
If Cliff Arnall can sit and make-up a fictitious and frivolous equation, then I can make up an equally frivolous rival equation for the third Monday of the year.
I BRING YOU……
Dum dum duuuuuuuum
……… GNU MONDAY
17th January 2022
With the marketing strapline, KEEP CALM AND LOVE A GNU
Bonus points for anyone who gets the references to kitsch rock band Toto or unix-based operating systems.
If you are still in any doubt about the gn-awesomeness of Gnu Monday, CLICK THIS LINK!
“The g-nicest work of g-nature in the zoo.”
THE SERIOUS BIT:
Where To Get Help
Those of us who work in mental health want nothing more than to see people who have been really unwell make a full recovery, get back to living their life and reconnecting with their community.
It may feel difficult to see a doctor at present, but we are still seeing people and do want to see anyone who is struggling with their mental health, particularly if you are experiencing thoughts of suicide or not being able to cope anymore. Please do contact your GP.
The most important things you can do to protect your mental health is to stay connected and talk about how you are feeling.
Additional advice and professional support are available at:
- Call Samaritans (UK-wide) on: 116 123 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call Breathing Space (Scotland) on: 0800 83 85 87
- For urgent mental health assessment and support (Scotland), call the NHS 24 Mental Health Hub on 111