Sarah Simpson column: Depression lies. So does Blue Monday

Sarah Simpson Column:

This column might be a little different than my usual ones but hey, it doesn’t happen too often so stick with me and I will try to lighten it up next time. I’m not holding you hostage though. Do turn the page if you don’t care for the topic. Try again next week!

Here we go…

I know it’s a completely made up thing based on pseudoscience, and I believe it was created to give travel companies a boost every winter and has since been co-opted by health companies trying to sell us their wellness regimes, but Jan. 21 was apparently Blue Monday — “officially” the most depressing day of the year. (Coincidentally, Jan. 19 was National Popcorn Day and I’m not going to lie, I was actually kinda sad I missed that one.)

It’s just advertising and I don’t care for the fact it essentially tries to convince us that the third Monday in January is always going to suck, but there’s a lot of truth in January being pretty bleak up here in the Pacific Northwest. The daylight hours are short, and where we live in particular, it’s been windy and chilly and wet. And then…well, life. Life is hard for everyone occasionally regardless of the time of year.

I know I’ve been riding the struggle bus this month, how about you?

I was glad to see that organizations like the Canadian Mental Health Association spoke out on Blue Monday.

I’ve been pleased to see the shift with regard to mental health acceptance as a legitimate health condition these last few years. It’s something that really matters to me. Destigmatizing mental health, I believe, will show us that we are all far more alike than we are different.

Part of the destigmatization process comes from people speaking out and sharing their stories. Athletes and Hollywood stars are beginining to talk about it and for better or worse it seems to empower other, less famous, people to follow suit. But there is so much more work to be done in that regard. It’s difficult to admit when you struggle. Nobody’s goal in life is to appear weak or full of angst in front of loved ones or strangers.

I understand I am inexplicably blessed in this life, that there will always be people struggling more than me. I also understand there will always be those who struggle less than me. What bothers me is our reluctance to be open about how things actually are. I’m not suggesting a giant pity party. It’s just helpful to know you’re not alone is all; that it doesn’t have to be a closely guarded secret anymore.

SEE RELATED: ‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

As a working mom of two young children, my life is chaotic.

Add not having a village on standby to help out, life gets even trickier.

Add my penchant for depression and anxiety, and some days I find my life exceedingly difficult.

And then the darkness and rain of the winter months….

(Add Marie Kondo’s Netflix series where she essentially tells you to get rid of all of the material possessions in your life that don’t “spark joy” and life becomes nearly impossible.)

It’s hard to navigate the world sometimes but we aren’t as alone or as unique in our struggles as we believe. It’s OK to ask for help, although sometimes it’s hard to find the strength to do so. Sometimes it takes a while to find the right person/people to talk to, but don’t give up. It’s worth it. You are worth it.

Blue Monday isn’t doing us any favours. So remember: you do not have to feel crummy just because a marketing-scheme-turned-myth is trying to convince you it’s a the most terrible day. If your day was great, that’s fantastic news. But if it wasn’t, well that’s OK too. Just know you’re not alone.



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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