Every year the media reminds us that there is one day in January called Blue Monday. It’s today. It was created as a PR stunt by a lecturer from Cardiff who has since admitted that the whole concept is “not particularly helpful”.

Having a day dedicated to people claiming they are ‘depressed’ is a bit of a slap in the face for people who are clinically depressed or suffering from serious, long term mental illness which leaves them barely able to function. Whilst we should all be careful when we throw around over-used terms such as, “I’m so depressed” or “This is suicidal” we should also take this opportunity to raise awareness about genuine mental illnesses, which are incredibly common yet often go unnoticed in everyday life.

You’re not alone

If the calculations are to be believed – which they typically aren’t – then you’re more likely feel depressed on January 16th over any other day in 2017. With Christmas credit card bills looming, the temperature dropping and resolutions inevitably failing it’s easy to see why many of us are feeling a little low compared to the weeks leading up to Blue Monday.

The good thing about feeling crap on this day is that we all tend to feel the same way. You’re not alone. It’s a good time to take a step back from your current situation and see if you’re mood has been low for a consistent period of time. Do you have ‘the blues’ or are you actually suffering from depression?

It’s a hard question to answer on your own, and many of us hate to admit that we might need medical help, but sometimes we need an outsider to take a look. If you feel your friends and family are too close to see what’s really going on -a common issue- then see a doctor. They can spot warning signs, evaluate the facts and give guidance. If you’re still unsure check out this NHS page which helps you differentiate between low moods and depression.

It’s in the media

Even though mental health problems are one of the main causes of the overall disease burden worldwide, by some cruel twist of fate it’s still a taboo subject in modern society. The fact that most major news outlets will feature a post on Blue Monday means that at least for one day, it’s likely to a common topic of conversation. You might not want to bring it up with your employer, but talking over an article you find interesting with a trusted co-worker might at least give you the confidence to consider it in the future.

It’s also a great day to utilise all the social media posts and bloggers out there who are giving advice from personal experience. Remember everyone’s mental health is affected differently so you might need to visit a couple of websites before you find something that speaks to you. Check Hannah and Beata for some mental health chat.

It’s just one small step

Asking for help is terrifying. When I started to feel unwell I waited months before I felt like my illness was ‘bad enough’ to require assistance. Even then, I was sure I was going to be laughed out of my doctor’s office and told to get over myself. I was suffering from stress which led to depression and anxiety, but I wasn’t fully aware of that until I explained my symptoms to a GP. I was constantly agitated, unable to concentrate, emotional and physically exhausted.

When I was advised to take at least a month off work to start recovering it was the first step in my journey to restoring my mental health. I wasn’t offered lots of treatment options or advised on how to change my lifestyle during that first visit. That would’ve been too overwhelming for me. I was happy just to acknowledge that I wasn’t coping. Having that weight lifted off my shoulder by telling another human being was the best I’d felt in months.

It’s a fresh start

January is full of resolutions and grand plans for the future, but you don’t have to put any pressure on yourself to change. Don’t add any more stress to your life. You can however, see it as a fresh start; a time to let help in, maybe slow things down a little and learn to take better care of yourself mentally. Try taking a small step towards putting yourself first for a change.

It could be something small like a bubble bath or spending time reading your favourite book. You could even make plans to start a new hobby or meet up with friends you’ve been neglecting for a while. Seeing a doctor can help you realise that these small steps are what add up to improving your overall mood and bringing back that lust for life that’s missing when depression takes over.

Is today the day you’re going to ask for help?

More info:

Seeking medical help about mental health

Contact Samaritans