This is it. It’s the third Monday in January, the day of the year when our emotions hit rock bottom and we’re at our most depressed. The idea is that the holidays are over and the flurry of activity suddenly stops. Christmas bills start coming in. It’s cold and the sun doesn’t want to show itself. If you’re feeling this way, you’ve got lots of company. Mental health experts estimate up to 10% of Canadians get the genuine winter blues.
You don’t have to have a diagnosed case of SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder – to feel less motivated when there’s little sunlight. And even if you don’t experience clinical depression, you might feel less optimistic and energentic than usual and experts say there are things you can do to lighten your outlook. Light is the key, actually. Staying near a window where you can at least experience whatever bit of sunlight there is, can help your mood. Exercise is probably the last thing anyone with a lack of motivation wants to bother with, but the Canadian Mental Health Association says even just ten minutes of moving around can make a difference. Support from others who know what it’s like is also an amazing boost. Not everyone has as healthy a perspective on their demons as Carrie Fisher eventually found. Having her ashes put in a giant Prozac pill was a fitting exit, wasn’t it?
If you follow me on Twitter (@lisambrandt) you’ll know that I often retweet stuff posted by Sick Not Weak. It’s a community of people who have experienced mental illness, from depression to anxiety to anything else you can think of. Its founder, TSN host Michael Landsberg, is devoted to the honest discussion about his, and anyone else’s, struggles with depression. I’m so aligned with his approach that I literally bought the T-shirt! He posts a daily Landsblog and speaks frankly about his struggles. It’s because of Michael and others such as Paulie O’Byrne that I disclosed my own bouts of depression and anxiety on this page. We have to talk about it, to remove the stigma and to help others feel safe enough reach for help.
Sick Not Weak aims to conquer the loneliness and hopelessness that often accompany mental illness. Michael has assembled a collection of well-known sports and entertainment figures who prove that getting mentally sick can affect anybody at any time. I hope you’ll visit them if you need some company, or tell a friend in need about what they do.