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?