Depression is something that will affect us all in some way or other during our lives. Either we develop the condition ourselves or maybe it’s a family member or someone we know.
Sometimes it will be apparent through behaviour. Other times, it’s managed so well by sufferers that you will never know.
As we thankfully become more aware – and tolerant – as a society about mental health issues so its beholden of us to develop a better understanding of the triggers involved. These can be complex and confusing but that shouldn’t be a reason to leave things to chance.
Something that can be done right away is dump the nonsense that this coming Monday (20th January) is supposedly the most depressing day of the year.
Let’s be very clear. “Blue Monday” is an advertising gimmick once used to sell winter holiday packages.
The phrase was originally coined in 2004 by psychologist Cliff Arnall using a pseudo-science ‘formula’ after being paid by a firm trading as Sky Travel and who used it to promote holiday deals.
After that, the concept passed into urban myth and gets an annual mention in the media.
The truth is that depression is a tough enough gig all year round without some commercial clowns adding to the burden.
So next Monday, let’s show a little sensitivity; let’s show some understanding – and let’s be grown-up about something that can be heart-breaking for so many families.
Has trade warfare been Trumped?
One of the nice consequences of writing a weekly column on current affairs is how often people want to share their opinions with you.
This seems to happen more often than not at my local supermarket and there’s many an insightful comment to be heard in the frozen food section.
Royal ruckuses aside, the most raised issue has been the troubles in Iran and how things could affect everything from oil prices to travel plans.
Until a few weeks ago, the general assessment of Donald Trump’s foreign policy was that he liked talking the talk but much preferred trade restrictions as an alternative to outright conflict.
Indeed, he regularly slammed his predecessors for an over-reliance on flawed intelligence from subjective sources that later prompted questionable military solutions.
As events in Baghdad clearly showed, that approach appears to have shifted somewhat and the reasons aren’t at all clear.
It’s not unusual for a leader with troubles on the domestic front to pick a fight with a foreign, and preferably weaker, opponent and thereby distract the voters.
Trump has a history of deep-seated antipathy towards Iran but is he really going to abandon his wheeler-dealer reputation by pressing buttons that put boots on the ground?
Since the weaponry exchanges, several Iranian cities have seen protests and counter-demonstrations that highlight how the nation is divided.
Could this be the desired effect from a US perspective and that the Oval Office is back in the business of regime change via destabilisation?
I’m sure there’ll be views about this possibility when I’m next in the supermarket.