Monday Musings….Driving through the Valley of the Great Unknown

Well today is Blue Monday. Whether it is a myth is not really the issue. The fact is that many people in January struggle with their mood. We can blame it on the weather or the fact that it’s the first day of the work week (traditionally). Perhaps we are struggling with failure to follow through on New Year’s resolutions that have left us guilt ridden once again, or that we are weighed down by the debt load from overspending during the holidays. Regardless of the reason, many people are ‘blue’.

But is this truly depression? I think we have to be careful how we use the word. There is a difference between feeling down or disappointed versus clinical depression. Most of the statements above are related to our own personal choices (with the exception of the weather). The consequences of those actions most definitely generate emotion, and that emotion causes us to think. If we have spent too much money, or given up on our diet or exercise regime, or truly don’t like Mondays, that is our own issue. To think that we have set aside a day to acknowledge our own ‘failings’, and throwing it in the category of a mood disorder, is really insulting to those who struggle with clinical depression.

A person with depression does not have a choice. To think that, minimizes the devastation and pain these people feel. Their mood disorder is not caused by their decisions. If it was, the solution would be simple: get proper rest and prepare for Monday’s tasks on Friday, set realistic goals for maintaining physical health, and learn to budget. Four steps to a better you, right there! And that is not something you need to pay $100 an hour for. It is common sense.

Instead, many people with clinical depression struggle emotionally when everything around them is going right, and they just don’t know why they can’t ‘snap out of it’. They feel a dark shadow encompassing their mind and they can’t simply shake it off by prioritizing tasks and reducing spending. That is not their issue. Many people with depression are high achieving, productive, social individuals who then struggle to maintain the façade because of the fear their friends, family and coworkers will say – “What do you have to be depressed about?” That just further cements the inner turmoil and feeling of defeat.

Having a calendar designation called Blue Monday doesn’t bring attention to mental illness, it trivializes it. Misinformation abounds about the causes and treatment of a very serious condition. And that is far more damaging to those who are in the trenches doing battle, while their comrades complain about mounting bills and unused gym memberships.

Instead of Blue Monday, it should be called Someday Monday… someday people will grasp the truth and not judge those who struggle with a pain so deep yet invisible and misunderstood….

This week’s song is The Great Unknown by Rob Thomas. The lyrics whisper the haunting thoughts from the headspace of those who are driving through the valley just trying to hold on’, as they ponder whether anyone really understands.

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