What do you think about mental health?


Winter blues?


Ask anyone if the winter months make people feel depressed. You won’t be surprised if they answer, “massively!” It got me thinking. Here I was in the icy grip of a Balkan winter, sitting by a roaring log fire in a cozy, snug room, while outside in sub-zero temperatures, deep grey clouds tinged with ominous black edges promised much more snow.
Do low clouds bring about low mood?
I wondered: does the winter, or a cold, grey, wet day, actively contribute to depression? And isn’t there an actual medical ‘condition‘: “seasonal affective disorder?” None of us would be amazed that so many peoples’  mood was lowered in poor weather.  I remember Billy Connolly wisely observing that ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes‘. And as I was sitting by a warm fire, smug and snug, in shorts and T-shirt s befits a cozy temperature in the mid-20s, while outside deep snow blanketed gardens and made them all look the same, I could well understand.  Some people get miserable when sunny skies give way to gloom — outside and within. We all know doctors expect to see patients needing help with low mood in the winter. So it’s easy to understand the temptation to formally to label this as a medical condition. Just like when they put “Taloia” on sick notes — which UK doctors allegedly did when they couldn’t be bothered to precisely ascertain the nature of widespread sniffles (TALOIA=’There’s a lot of it about!’).

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So are we destined to be unhappy?

Is it me, or is unhappiness becoming more and more widespread? Show me a street and I will show you gloomy people where a smile is as rare as integrity in politicians. When I lived near a rail station one hour’s commuting time from London, I would often be on my way back from the gym as the 7pm arrival brought in hundreds of gloomy-faced commuters. Heads down; shoulders’ hunched; grim-faced; trudgery in motion. You’d think they were on their way to their execution.
Although modern life, in the West, at least, has ticked more and more boxes of human endeavour  — better health care, greater longevity, higher standards of education, instant communication world-wide, access to more knowledge in one day than we will even need in an entire lifetime; we are more widely travelled, and, tellingly, generally enjoy far greater prosperity. We don’t have to make do with our parents’ choice of marriage partners from the neighbouring village; and if our relationship doesn’t work out, we can quickly move onto another. We can, and do, seek employment or business opportunities from a global choice of offerings, rather than be limited to what’s available in the local neighbourhood.

Continue reading “So are we destined to be unhappy?”