Blue Monday was fabricated to sell us shit. Even in the middle of a pandemic, nothing’s changed

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It’s here again, apparently — the bleakest day of the year.

In the midst of a global pandemic that has killed over 2 million people, the last thing we need is scaremongering about a Monday so horrible it has a name. Especially when it doesn’t actually exist.

The concept of ‘Blue Monday’ was coined in 2004 by psychologist Cliff Arnall. He claimed that, statistically, the third Monday of January is the most depressing day of the year. His evidence? …


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Solomon Mwebya and Bashir Sentamu

As large parts of the world reach toward life beyond lockdown, a forgotten group of children stuck on a remote island off of Uganda are fighting to survive.

It’s a blindly sunny day in Busagazi, a parish in Uganda. Rising water levels, a frequent side effect of the climate crisis, have cut the island — and all of the people who live there — off from mainland Uganda. Children play in burnt orange plains, running in and out of windowless buildings. Among them are six-year-old Bashir Sentamu, 7-year-old Wilson Kapimpini, 10-year-old Anisha Namuleme, seven-year-old Innocent Mugabi and 8-year-old Yokosani Maiso. They are together because they can’t go home to their parents. They’re orphans. Their parents died from AIDS or drowned in the lake they work in. Those whose parents are alive still can’t go and stay with them, because they struggle to feed themselves — let alone another hungry mouth. …


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Police attend an Extinction Rebellion event. Photo by Sian Bradley

On the 1st of May 2003, five women walked to Chicago’s government office wearing bathrobes. They were preparing for a demonstration; the first ‘Day of the Politically Depressed’. Onlookers began drifting toward the women, who were outnumbered by police in riot gear. An hour later, artist Vanalyne Green arrived in a taxi with a box of white T-shirts that read: “Depressed? It might be political!” Vanalyne is a founding member of Feel Tank, a collective project formed by women in response to their feelings of hopelessness about life in America. “We experience that as an individual feeling, but in fact, there’s something quite political about it,” Debbie Gould had told one of the curious police officers. …


I have been unemployed, hospitalised with chronic illness and housebound with depression. Here’s what I learnt about staying sane when life exists within four walls

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I’m no stranger to isolation. I’ve been social distancing before the government told me to. Years of battling depression, eating disorders, anxiety, self-harm and suicidal urges have kept me strapped to my bed or hiding indoors, for days, weeks, months on end. Then I was made redundant only months into my first Proper Job, flinging me into the abyss of unemployment. Zero-hour contracts, part-time hours and the digital nature of media meant I was at home — a lot. Like, 70% of the time.

In my final year of university, I suffered from recurring Paratonsilar Abscesses (save yourself and do not Google that) that put me in hospital for days at a time. Finally, I had an operation to remove my tonsils. All of this medical care amounted to lots of days lost to a hospital bed, with nothing but my mobile phone and books to keep me company. When the morphine wore off, I took to pacing the hospital corridors to feel alive. In these times, I learnt to find joy in small things. In messages from friends, the blossom drifting off the trees past twisting church spires poking through gaps in a grimy window, a nurse with a warm smile handing me a bowl of gloop. …


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Chana Porter’s new sci-fi novel The Seep explores who is welcome in Utopia — and who gets left behind

Trina Goldberg-Oneka is fifty-years-old when The Seep arrives. She throws a dinner party with her soon-to-be wife, Deeba, as the world braces themselves for The End. The guests carried on with their evening, unaware that The Seep had already entered their water supply. It enveloped them all, filling them with the overwhelming understanding that everything was going to be OK.

This gentle alien invasion was welcomed by Trina and Deeba, alongside everyone else who was high on The Seep. They felt joy, love, peace. Those left behind lounged in panic, despair, anger.

In this opening chapter, Chana introduces the consistent theme of her book; the complexity of human condition. We are asked to think, at the opening of Chapter 2 “…but were humans still humans without their worries?”.


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Vocal social media users attack climate change protesters

Survival of the planet requires radical systemic change. When we place blame on the masses, we allow the climate’s biggest enemies to quietly continue business as usual.

Our planet is burning. We are teetering on the edge of irreversible climate change that could trigger the sixth mass extinction, killing millions. Scientists don’t know when the tipping point will occur, or whether it has already, but once it does, we will have caused irreparable damage to the Earth.

I’m sure you’re all too painfully aware of the devastation and destruction that is ripping through nature. Greenhouse gas emissions are at record high, and there is more Co2 in the atmosphere than there has ever been. Thousands are dying in European capital cities because of polluted air. The oceans are rising so rapidly that at this rate we will lose cities to the sea. Los Angeles, Bangkok, Miami, Barcelona will experience annual flooding. Indonesia is even moving its capital city because Jakarta is sinking. If our planet warms by just 2 degrees, we risk losing five percent of animal and plant species, and an ensuring domino effect could collapse ecosystems. The warming climate is helping disease-ridden mosquitoes to spread. The climate crisis could create up to 1.5 billion more migrants by 2050, and yet we are increasingly tightening our borders and treating refugees inhumanely. Indigenous people are losing their home to wildfires and destruction of the natural land. We lost 120,000km of tropical rainforests last year. Ice sheets continue to melt at an accelerated rate. If the entire of Greenland’s ice sheet melts, the sea level will rise by seven meters. Flooding, drought, tsunamis and hurricanes are killing people and destroying villages. Yet two thirds of extreme weather events in the last 20 years were influenced by humans. We are at risk of running out of food. …


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You know how sometimes, movies show a dam bursting, destroying whatever lies below? That’s what it’s like, to cut your skin. A dam slowly filling with water, until it bursts.

The year is 2010. I’m sat in English class, and it must have been warm because the sleeves of my school jumper were rolled up past my elbows.

This shouldn’t have mattered, but it did to me. I’d forgotten about the prominence of the angry red cuts slicing through the smooth porcelain of my inner arm, now flashing like a warning beacon to everyone around me. I usually wouldn’t forget. Usually, I was careful. I made sure my sleeves were pulled down, hiding any evidence of the pain I inflicted upon myself.

There was no way I could completely forget the cuts were there. They were a constant presence in my subconscious, part of a game of hide and seek I played against the world. But I must have had a momentary lapse in judgment. It’s easy to forget how those familiar marks must look so much more alarming when you’re not used to them littering your skin. …


When strolling through a forest, we can experience the relative insignificance of our lives in comparison to the timeline of the Earth. Regardless of wars, famine, trends and corporations that grow and fold, the forest continues. Trees outlive generations, rulers, presidents and prime ministers. The cycle of life is perfected through ancient processes; silently building a respite from the suffocating grey of modern life. Forests are reminders that the Earth survives in spite of our efforts to thwart it. We exist within their world, not vice versa. …

About

Sian Abigail Bradley

Freelance journalist and mental health advocate

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