Monthly Archives: January 2017

Why ‘Blue Monday’ is a load of Cock and Bull

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Why ‘Blue Monday’ is a load of Cock and Bull

 

According to a big load of cockwomble, the third Monday of January in the Northern Hemisphere is ‘the most depressing day of the year’. Blue Monday is a concept that was given legs by a holiday company called Sky Travel who had dug up a press release from a tutor called Cliff Arnall at Cardiff University who invented an equation to prove its existence. The formula for Blue Monday went along the lines of  – excessive Christmas debts + bad weather + failed New Year’s resolutions = depression. I wonder what could possibly happen if a holiday company told people they were scientifically depressed and suggested booking a trip?
Blue Monday is now firmly established in culture as a terrible day for all mankind. We are warned in the press at the start of January that it’s coming and given advice and tactics to prepare ourselves and stop the headlong descent into a quagmire of depression.
Influencing people’s mindset in such a negative way using a powerful tool like the media is not only stupid but downright irresponsible. The Mirror online advised people on the 11 Jan this year to book Blue Monday off work and “cry quietly into a tub of something with a high sugar and fat content”. A picture of a giant pot of Ben and Jerry’s was provided next to the article should you be stuck for ideas. If I have broken my New Year’s healthy resolutions, this sage advice would surely mean that there would be a Turd Brown Tuesday straight after Blue Monday? Of course, you will get different perspectives on Blue Monday depending on which newspaper you read, The Guardian and Independent have always pulled it apart and The Sun responsibly acknowledges that anyone feeling truly depressed should seek medical help.
Creating and perpetuating a phantom construct of depression is actually extremely damaging to those who suffer with it. The mental health charity MIND describes Blue Monday as ‘dangerously misleading’. A statement on their website points out that ‘depression doesn’t care what date it is’; for those who suffer with it, any day can be blue. They also state that the term enhances the belief that depression is simply ‘feeling a bit down’ when in reality it is a serious mental health condition. MIND actively campaigns to challenge Blue Monday each year and urges us all to get the hashtag #blueanyday trending instead.
Not only are we all terribly depressed on Blue Monday, but we all need to buy stuff to make us feel better. Brands will not only push holidays on us, but will also ruthlessly promote anything and everything from new mobile phones to steam mops. Poundland tweeted cute pics of kittens on last year’s BM to ‘cheer us up’ and get us sharing stories of what makes us happy. Aren’t they nice? Except it was bad enough that I was told I was depressed without needing to go and stock up on material goods too. Plus, I am confused by the mixed messages. I thought I was depressed because I had debts from Christmas, but now I have to buy more things?
Personally, I can think of a lot more days that are well more depressing than Monday 16th January. The formula for my most depressing day would go along the lines of – anniversary of important person’s death + day before payday + deceased’s birthday = February 26th. As I will definitely be depressed on this day, I’d prefer not to have a warm-up a month earlier.
Funnily enough, the same Arnall dude also used his non-robust science formula to calculate when we are most happiest; turns out it’s around the middle of June. I don’t remember seeing any news coverage of a ‘most joyful day of the year’ though. Perhaps it could be called Yellow Saturday? Being told to expect happiness would surely be better than being told to expect doom? Or maybe we could not be told how to feel at all?
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Embracing Ennui

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Embracing Ennui

There’s nothing I love more than a new word to introduce into my daily vocabulary, especially when that word sums up exactly how I’m feeling. I first heard the word ‘ennui’ during a conversation with a dear friend, who announced on our day out to New Brighton that the grey and boring environs were the perfect conditions to elicit this lesser-known emotional state. I suddenly realised that ennui not only applied to being in New Brighton, but also to my life.

 

The UK borrowed the term ennui from France during the height of 18th century European Romanticism and I’m so glad we never returned it. It was used to describe a rather fashionable kind of weariness, boredom and dissatisfaction with the world and a preoccupation with the emptiness of existence. Back in the day, artists and poets suffered from it and those with ennui were seen to have spiritual depth and sensitivity.

 

As someone who has suffered all manner of mental maladies towards the darker ends of the mood spectrum, I’m always monitoring myself for any signs of relapse. I had been feeling low, unmotivated and bored for a while, hence the lack of blog posts and over-reliance on Primark benders and eating. I couldn’t decide whether I had depression, the winter blues, Seasonal Affective Disorder or just needed a kick up the backside. After many careful assessments of myself along with the day out to New Brighton, I deduced that my mind was in fact, a quagmire of ennui. I possibly needed a kick up the backside too, but in a counter-intuitive move, I decided to embrace the ennui for a while and see what happened.

 

I’ve always been the type of person to try and force myself through any periods of depression or so-called ‘negative’ feelings and just power through no matter what. I’ve always found it particularly difficult to give myself a break and as soon as I realised I had ennui, I felt guilty and tried to push myself once more into being a useful unit of production. This only enhanced the ennui however and eventually I was forced to ask myself, ‘why am I trying to fight it’?

 

I knew it probably wouldn’t last forever, plus there were stresses and strains going on around me which were giving the ennui big beefy muscles, so I made the executive decision to be at one with my ennui and invite it home for tea. If it was good enough for artists and poets, it was good enough for me.

 

Accepting it has been rather wonderful. I managed to keep the fabric of my life together but stopped pretending I was OK whilst doing it. It was interesting that when I spoke of my ennui, lots of other people were intrigued and said they didn’t realise there was a word for this feeling. The highlight of having ennui was that I just didn’t care about not caring about things. The pressure of ‘should’ disappeared and I felt a lot more relaxed than I had done in ages.

 

Nearly two months later, I can feel that the ennui is starting to lift. By letting it run it’s course, it has burnt itself out and some different emotions have come along instead. I may never find out the reasons why ennui descended, but not judging it seems to have worked.

The worst that happened during the ennui, was that nothing really bad happened. Everything is still exactly as I left it and I am now able to return to my writing and my life afresh and with a new word at my disposal. We can often feel under so much pressure to be super-achievers and never admit to floundering, but I’ve discovered it’s fine to grind to a halt in ennui laden traffic once in a while and peer at the world through brown tinted spectacles.

 

People say that moods and feelings are like the weather and I think that’s true. My dalliance with ennui was a simple rain shower compared to the severe depression I’ve suffered in the past. But I think giving it the correct label and approaching it with acceptance and patience stopped it turning into anything more nasty and it’s a lesson I will be applying to any more new and unusual mood states that I discover.

 

*This post was also kindly published by the Huffington Post UK on their Lifestyle webpage and is also featured on my website lauraroche.co.uk