Some pseudo-scientific research has shown that the 3rd Monday in January is the most depressing day of the year. It was even given a name: Blue Monday.
There isn’t any actual research behind this, and of course depression isn’t just caused en masse by a specific date on the calendar. But, evidence aside, I’m tempted to agree; mid-January is an extremely depressing time of year! Especially for folks who already live with depression, and even more so for those of us whose depression is seasonally affected (made worse by the darker winter days).
It was a stressful week, the holidays ended too soon and I’m tempted to curl up in bed and stay there until the snow melts in April.
It’s so hard to be cheerful when there isn’t any hope of seeing any green living plants for another 3 months! It’s hard to be cheerful when it’s – 1 000 000 degrees outside every day and the roads and sidewalks are covered in ice.
I took two weeks off over Christmas. I was burnt out and exhausted. I was grateful to have the time off, but it wasn’t enough. It’s very difficult to relax on demand. During the second week of the holiday break I took a vacation on my own. While I was away I walked for hours every day, as much as 20 km per day. I took photographs of all the beautiful green plants and I stood by the ocean. I walked and walked and walked to clear my head. It seemed amazing that plants, flowers and trees were growing and blooming in January and that the air was warm instead of freezing my face.
Since I came back I’ve been struggling. Work has been stressful and I don’t have any more certainty or answers in my personal life. I’ve been having a lot of memories, flashbacks and PTSD symptoms. A year ago this week my family law trial started and my PTSD has always been very sensitive to anniversaries of traumatic events.
Since I stepped out of the airport last weekend, into the -25 C air, whenever I’ve felt overwhelmed I’ve been thinking of the images from my vacation. Specifically, the lemon trees. Inside my head I’ve been saying to myself, “lemon tree, lemon tree, lemon tree” like a mantra. Visualizing the yellow fruit and the succulent plants surrounding it. Trying to bring back the warmth into this frozen, cold, blue world.
I’ve never been particularly good at positive imagery. My mind is exceptionally skilled at recreating negative, scary or traumatic imagery! But something about this lemon tree seems to be working for me.
It’s a grounding technique I’ve taught to my service users at work, but one I’m not good at using myself.
So if you are feeling blue this week, dark and hopeless about the world. Maybe try imagining a time or a place in your life when you felt safe. An image from a vacation, a childhood memory, your favourite place to relax. Breathe deeply and slowly and visualize that safe, happy place. Try to imagine yourself there. Escape, just for a moment.
Because I have a feeling this is going to be a difficult week for a lot of us.
Sending out much love and support to you all.