I know ‘Blue Monday’ was last week but that’s fine because it DOESN’T EXIST.
There is no day when everyone’s more sad, by whatever measurement is supposed to determine that. Last Monday, babies were born, people fell in love and smiles spread across faces. It was a beautiful day for many millions of individuals.
That isn’t supposed to make everything okay for those going through hardship, tragedy and frustration. But it is a fact. Happiness and sadness; success and failure; hope and despair: each dichotomy is subjectively specific and context-determined. So to say you’re more likely to sad on any one day on account of a post-festivity comedown or return to routine is invalid.
Now before I get to the thrust of this blog, I must distinguish and make clear: my case for sadness does not extend to serious manifestations such as clinical depression or acute anxiety. If you think you’re struggling to a serious degree, proper and professional help should be sought as soon as possible. At the very least, please, please tell someone – anyone, expressing to them in the best way you can what you feel.
I do not under any circumstance pretend to be qualified to deal with such things in the correct way.
I refer to sadness most common and ordinary. I refer to a head hung an inch lower than it was yesterday. I refer to mild loneliness and the sense of distance induced by nothing in particular. I refer to boredom and disinterest and indifference. And I embrace it like an old friend I’ve not seen in a while, drunk on cheap beer and nostalgia.
I was once reliably informed by one of my elder siblings: “You’re a melancholic, Peter. Just like me.”
I told one of my friends this. I said: “I’m a melancholic.”
My friend asked if that meant I had a melon addiction. It still makes me smile, and reminds me directly that streaks of melancholia can be offset by something else – something wild and unpredictable and ill-advised but somehow magical and glorious at the same time. I recently became (at first subconsciously) fixated on a few lines from the first series of the FX X-Men spin-off show Legion.
– “I used to all the time think about the mirage, or how this feeling, clarity, how maybe that’s just, you know, a symptom of the other side of the disease kicking in.”
– “You’re talking about mania.”
– “Yes. ‘Cause people always talk about the depression side, but it’s the… the other side, that invulnerable feeling that’s… that’s dangerous.”
The danger referred to there comes from taking my point too far. It remains potentially invaluable as a consideration, though. There come, as an individual more ‘susceptible’ to feelings of sadness, instances of unshackled joy – highs, if you were – that become more amplified as you are used to the lows.
Because your emotional base is perhaps lower than perceived to be average, the feelings of elation you get have the capacity to surpass those you would feel were you not a melancholic – but only have the capacity to, I must stress. The only thing certain in this dark game is uncertainty.
If you learn to embrace and control those heightened moments, at their best becoming that invulnerability, then you can find a drink that doesn’t lead to a hangover; a drug not followed by a comedown. But you must be careful – because every great height risks a very great fall.
And sometimes the welcoming of sadness takes on a much simpler guise. More often than not, there’s nothing doing but to sink into it – to cry, but cry properly, feeling the tracks of every tear and squeezing your eyes tightly if that’s what’s required; sobbing and letting the sound out – finding a place to be alone and let a perfectly normal bodily reaction take its course. There’s a reason every bout of crying stops and doesn’t go on forever, even if it feel like it – it is a purge, and it is progress.
Or to be alone and savour it – to develop an awareness of the beauty of losing every last inhibition that comes with being in company, and be proud of that rare version of yourself – the one that, some would argue, is your true self and the one that no-one but you will ever see. Notice the difference in the way you take your steps, carry out your business, process your thoughts. Revel in the sobriety of it all and the tranquillity. No person was designed to be alone forever, but neither were they meant to never be alone.
And talk to yourself. Let a stream of consciousness flow – its basically what I do writing this blog. But talking’s easier and you can’t feel bad when no one read your blog. I kid. But really – pace up and down and spill out your heart to yourself, again revelling in the unique experience of acting alone and being a pure representation of self. A reminder of identity and integrity.
Sadness has become part of my identity. I’m actually proud of it. I have an attraction to the subtleties of it, and even more so the flipside, when I come out the other end of a bad spell through a good night’s sleep or seeing a brilliant film or listening to my favourite music or seeing my team win. There are no highs without lows.
Everything is relative. Through melancholia I’ve learned to appreciate more of the lesser things.
Everyone will have their own way of handling it. Personally, I’d never go up to sadness and introduce myself. It might give you a dirty look or snidely comment on your hair. But after a while of spending a bit of time together, you might just get to know it better. Get on with it. Like a colleague you wouldn’t get a drink with. But when you find yourself in their company at a party, it’s not so bad.
I started writing this a week after ‘Blue Monday’. It’s now Wednesday, both killing the relevance of the blog and reinforcing my point that blue Mondays don’t matter.
Every bad day will end.