So it’s already mid-January and we are rapidly approaching what is commonly known as Blue Monday – the 3rd Monday in January which is apparently the most depressing day of the year, when reality bites that the holidays actually are over, everything is truly back to normal, nights are short, the weather is cold, the buzz of the holidays is gone, there’s still at least a week until payday (for those working) and the true mid-winter can indeed seem incredibly bleak. Another Twilight Zone, of the much emptier variety?
How about a reframe? Blue Monday is not a day. It’s a legendary song by New Order, whose title has been re-purposed into a catchy trope for newspapers (and OK, bloggers) to facilitate more ‘fascinating’ articles and click-bait to generate ad revenue. There is no scientific basis for Blue Monday, and it is widely believed that it was actually started as a marketing ploy for travel agents to sell wonderful sunny summer holidays. Much in the same way the mystical figure of 10,000 steps a day was said to be invented by a company selling pedometers.
This is not to negate how anybody may be feeling at the moment. Your feelings are real. However, having our feelings artificially “blue-washed” is something that we don’t have to buy into – Blue Monday is not compulsory!
Another major factor in the myth of Blue Monday might be the question, “how are you getting on with the 'new you' that you promised yourself you would become?" You might have made all sorts of New Year’s resolutions and plans for this ‘new you’ as 2022 emerged, but after big ambitions, whatever they may have been, you may now be realising that the ‘new you’ of 2022 looks a lot like the ‘old you‘ of 2021.
There’s no ‘old you’, any more than there can be a ‘new you.’ It’s the journey - hard, light, painful or joyful that makes “you”. We can’t move forward or change our past by disowning who we are. The “old me”, contributed to the me who is present today. Through recovery I don’t need to repeat the past or constantly dwell on it. I can own who I am today and make a positive choice about what I can offer the world - today.
For people in recovery who believe in the principle of “One Day at a Time” things may be easier to deal with because we realised a long time ago that the best period to concentrate on is the present - rather than looking too far back into the past or too far forward into the future - and that true happiness and enlightenment can mostly be found by staying in the present. There is an old cheesy saying “yesterday’s history, tomorrow’s a mystery, today is a gift that’s why they call it the present”. I’m not advocating using that (I know a grittier version I can’t’ publish here) - but as an alternative to the Blue Monday mentality, mid-January is perhaps a good time to sit back and reflect on the true meaning of “one day at a time’ which for me is acknowledging that I can’t control what’s already happened, I can’t control what is going to happen and so the only thing I really have any degree of influence over is what is happening right now - and I can choose to do my very best, in this moment.
There's a lovely reading used frequently in the 12 Steps fellowship that goes like this:
There are two days in every week about which we should not worry, two days which should be kept free from fear and apprehension.
One of these days is YESTERDAY with its mistakes and cares, its faults and blunders, its aches and pains. YESTERDAY has passed forever beyond our control.
All the money in the world cannot bring back YESTERDAY. We cannot undo a single act we performed; we cannot erase a single word we said. YESTERDAY is gone.
The other day we should not worry about is TOMORROW with its possible adversaries, its burdens, its large promise and poor performance. TOMORROW is also beyond our immediate control.
TOMORROW'S sun will rise, either in splendour or behind a mask of clouds -- but it will rise. Until it does, we have no stake in TOMORROW for it is as yet unborn.
This leaves only one day --TODAY--. Anyone can fight the battles of just one day. It is only when you and I add the burdens of those two awful eternities--YESTERDAY and TOMORROW that we break down.
It is not the Experience of TODAY that drives people mad -- it is remorse or bitterness for something which happened YESTERDAY and the dread of what TOMORROW may bring.
LET US, THEREFORE, LIVE BUT ONE DAY AT A TIME.
For those who might have started New Year resolutions and ended up back on the chocolate by the time January reached double figures (I've ended up eating more chocolate in the last week than I did throughout the whole of Christmas !) don’t be too disappointed in yourself because you can start over any time and when tomorrow morning comes that will be yet another brand-new day and another brand-new opportunity for you. Maybe try not to look at a broken resolution as a failure to become the “new you” but look upon yourself with kindness as the same you, doing your best - and every day is another opportunity to be the best 'you' that you possibly can – there is no need for a 'new you' – because you, as you are each day, is always enough.
If you feel that your issues are insurmountable – for example, if you made a commitment to stop drinking alcohol or taking other substances and have not managed it, and you are beginning to suspect that you need help – or if you have relapsed into other old behaviours which you promised yourself you would stop – don’t worry. Addiction is a relapsing condition. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. The most important thing to do is to acknowledge it and ask for help. Addiction thrives in isolation so the best way out is to let others in.
Forward Trust believes that everybody is capable of lasting change and that we are all more than our pasts no matter where we have come from or what we have previously done with our lives.
Blue Monday is just another day with a catchy label. Don’t let yourself be blue-washed! When you hear about it on the news why not try and turn it into an opportunity by thinking about what a fantastic day it is to live in the present, be the best version of you that you possibly can be, and most importantly if you need help, ask for it.
We believe in you, and you can contact Clouds House or other Forward Trust services if you need help with addiction now.