So, I'm a couple of days behind on this post, but I'm still interested in it. Monday, January 25 was the dreaded "Blue Monday" -- the official most depressing day of the year -- at least according to Dr. Cliff Arnalls. He's been doing research on seasonal affective disorders (aka S.A.D. — I’m not making that up — it’s a real clinical diagnosis) and has determined — through an extremely complex formula — that the Monday that begins the last full week of January is likely to be the most depressing day of the year. Here are some of the factors he takes into consideration: Weather. Interestingly, SAD is extremely rare within 30 degrees of the equator — where days are long and skies are bright all year round. Cold, damp, grey skies make many of us more introspective and melancholy. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if left unchecked (and added to the other factors in the equation) it can lead to a full-blown bout of depression.
Debt minus monthly income. Anyone gotten the credit card bills from Christmas yet? Anyone thinking about paying the minimum? Anyone noticed that your minimum payment might not even cover the interest on your outstanding debt? That’s right — many of us will make the minimum payment and our balance will increase. Depressing indeed!
Time since Christmas. All that holiday cheer can pack quite a hangover. All the build up of Christmas — it starts earlier every year — leads inevitably to a let-down as we forget about all the peace-on-earth-good-will-to-men stuff and get back to the dog-eat-dog reality of life.
Quitting. Most people break their New Year’s Resolutions within the first week of January. However, most of the most tenacious have also broken down by the end of the third week. You may have noticed that the gym isn’t as crowded these days.
There are other factors, and I’m not a mathematician. I tried to figure out my depression quotient but couldn’t. However, I do know that most years I experience something like SAD in early February. It usually lasts about a week or so and then evaporates. I always attributed it to the fact that my birthday comes at the end of that month. I thought I was just mourning the passing of another year, but Dr. Arnalls’ theory probably makes more sense.
I also know that I’ve recently started to pull out of a 90-day funk that has had me bogged down in the worst writer’s block I’ve ever experienced. I told a friend of mine that finishing the book felt like lifting something really heavy without bending your knees. It was the worst I have ever felt. Prayer has been a chore. Reading the Bible is like eating stale bread. I've been irritable and have found little or no pleasure in the things that normally bring me joy. It's felt like a dark night of the soul, and I don't use those words casually.
But it feels like it's lifting somewhat. Maybe I’m ahead of the curve this year.
How about you? Are you feeling the winter blues? What do you do to counter them? Do you suppose there's some sort of spiritual component Dr. Analls is overlooking?