We’ll all say that 2016 was a dumpster fire that we hope to soon forget. When our grandchildren ask about it we’ll speak of it in hushed tones and check over our shoulders to make sure it’s not sneaking up behind us. The best thing about 2016 was that it ended. But where does that leave us?
In 2005, a not-so-scientific equation was released to the world. With that calculation, one could determine the most depressing day of the year. That day, the third Monday of January, is now called Blue Monday, and while it may not be real science or even a real calculation, this year Blue Monday feels very real.
The occasion fell on January 16 this year and with it the world heaved a sigh not of relief but of exasperation. As it turns out, 2016 was just a year like any other and a year itself is really just the Earth going around the sun. As the weeks of 2017 begin to fall away behind us, the people of this planet are realizing that nothing has actually changed at all. There was no puff of smoke and glitter to indicate a magical change in the world’s circumstances. Britain still left the European Union, Donald Trump will still be sworn in as President of the United States, Aleppo is still a smoldering ruin, and no changing of the calendar will bring David Bowie back from the dead.
How does one calculate when Blue Monday will fall? According to the ‘science,’ the calculation takes into account a number of factors: the weather, debt, how long it’s been since Christmas, and failed New Year’s resolutions. The equation also claims to factor in two very important things that those living with depression and other mental illness may already understand all too well: a need to take action combined with a lack of motivation to actually do anything. The eight per cent of adults that the Canadian Mental Health Association says will experience major depression at some point in their lives already know how that feels. The need to clean your house, but the inability to get off the couch. The need to get groceries, but the inability to put your shoes on. It’s not about not wanting to do things. It’s about feeling like you can’t. Maybe Blue Monday is the day when the whole world feels as helpless as that 8 per cent.
While Blue Monday isn’t a scientific reality — a day is really just another arbitrary measure of time created by humans and its end won’t magically change anything — feeling helpless is not. As this year moves forward with what will likely prove to be its own string of horrible events and occurrences the best thing we can do is support each other and realize that while a year may change absolutely nothing, we have a new opportunity every moment to make our lives, and those of the people around us, much better than they were the moment before. Instead of waiting for everything to magically get better, take the moments you can and make them better yourself. Read a book. Start a garden. Listen when people talk. If Blue Monday is the saddest day of the year, that means every day from now on can only get better.
Blue Monday isn’t real, but mental illness is. If you or someone you know is feeling bluer than usual, reach out. There are people you can talk to. Stop in at The Student Health and Wellness HUB, or call Brock extension 3250 to make a personal counselling appointment. If it’s an emergency and you think you or someone else might be in danger, call 911 immediately.