Blue Monday

“Thought I was mistaken
I thought I heard your words
Tell me, how do I feel?
Tell me now, how do I feel?” 
New Order – Blue Monday

 

It’s Monday the 21st of January: “Blue Monday” 2019. A day when emotion is universally prescribed “blue” ergo, depressed. A day which, whilst at the same time as bringing mental health into the national consciousness, trivialises it. And as much as we try, as much as we fight it, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy – for some, so much more than others.

Maybe it wouldn’t be so problematic, if it weren’t for the fact that, under the facade of “Blue Monday,” sits a sinister, yet tenacious marketing tactic. It’s not overly surprising to learn it’s a PR stunt, devised by a travel company to boost sales, to make money. It’s longevity is pure evidence that this tactic is working. “Blue Monday” continues to exist to uphold capitalism by acting as an annual reminder that: if you feel blue, you should spend money (substituting the usual “If you love someone, spend money on them” (See: Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s day et al)) –

“Get a red cup to beat the blues”

“Blue Monday isn’t blue when you’re enjoying our Cheddar!”

“Cheer up your Blue Monday with a sneaky treat!”

Then you’ll feel better. Wouldn’t it be lovely to think that a bit of spending could “cure” what can be, incurable? Not medication. Not counselling. Spending. Spending, which is also –  *absurdly* – one of the main contributing factors to the 3rd Monday of January being “Blue Monday” in the first place. You can see where this is going… Hats off to the big wig advertisers (capitalists) that came up with this vicious cycle of individual suffering!

So why don’t I just shut up and enjoy my free cheeseburger?

Because there are SO MANY people for which a freebie just won’t cut it, myself included. For people who suffer from poor mental health on a regular basis (at least 1 in 4 of us), to wake up and find it is “Blue Monday” is the most self-fulfilling of all prophecies. It can’t be shaken by a fucking Costa coffee (cheese maybe). But jokes aside, poor mental health is something people live with, day in, day out, not simply annually. To trivialise mental health in this way, to disregard medical illness, for the sake of a pseudo-scientific “Blue Monday” is dangerous – for everyone. It’s not healthy for a calendar-event to dictate emotion, to set an expectation on a universal scale, to stuff our mouths with consumer items to stifle our words.

“And I still find it so hard
To say what I need to say
But I’m quite sure that you’ll tell me
Just how I should feel today”
New Order – Blue Monday

“Genie, you’re free..”

Suicide is for cowards”

I have no respect for anyone who takes their own life”

Sitting at work after the news of Robin Williams death, these were not the reactions I expected. Amongst the pain stricken declarations of sorrow at this shocking and devastating news, were dabbles or idiotic naivety. “How could someone take their own life?” I heard above the usual office chit-chatter.

How could someone have never even considered the possibility? How could such an idea be absolutely foreign? How easy it could be just to end everything, how could that not even be tempting? I envy anyone who has never even thought of and cannot even comprehend the concept of dabbling in what is deemed the extremely ‘taboo’. In a society where our whole lives seem predetermined by society, politics and the media freedom is an illusion to many. At times, the only decision one can take a hold of is ending ones life; is it really surprising that people choose to take the one decision which is truly ours?

But it’s selfish” reply the masses of naïve, narrowed minded people. Even so, how hard must things get for someone to think that their death will be less of a burden than their life has been on their friends and family. Mental illness is not a decision, it is no more chosen than people who are diagnosed with MS or Cancer, although many would agree that euthanasia or assisted-suicide for the latter is more ‘socially acceptable’ than a mentally ill person committing suicide despite the great resonance between terminal illness and depression.

What’s with the stigma associated with depression? Why is it that people say the word with an instant roll of their eyes? As if it’s not a ‘real’ illness. And of course, a rich person definitely can’t have depression (one says in that aggravating, drawling know-it-all voice whilst rolling their fucking eyes) because at the end of the day rich people get sad and they “go buy a Lamborghini”. I’m sure it works like that. Rich person feels lonely they just “call one of their celebrity friends over”. Wow. When did money start to arbitrate happiness? It’s a duly taught nod to modern culture that the societal obsession with money and fame have indoctrinated many into believing that celebrities and the like have it all. Invincible super-beings. If only.

I wish so too, as much as I’d love to believe that one can reach such a stage of invincibility no one is immune from the hankering beast that is mental illness; who’s victims lay far and wide. It’s part of human nature to be vulnerable, to suffer, worsened so by the unkindness and narrow-mindedness of these other’s who feel that suicide or depression is ‘beneath them’. I applaud your prognosis. I hope to god you’re right.

Written for Cub Magazine: http://cubmagazine.co.uk/2014/08/the-suicide-debate/