Monthly Archives: April 2017

Sadly, depression is booming.

Today, April 7th, is the World Health Organization’s World Health Day 2017, and this year it marks the culmination of the WHO’s one-year global campaign on depression.

The aim of this campaign — which I must say I 100% support — is that more people with depression, everywhere in the world, both seek and get help.

According to the WHO, depression is now the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide.

The leading cause.

More than 300 million people are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015.

That’s one heck of a rise, in just ten years, and it means that around 1 in 23 people in the world are suffering at any one time.

A few years ago, my writer and illustrator friend Matthew Johnstone made this delightful short video in collaboration with the WHO, designed to explain how depression can feel.

So if, like me, you are – or have been – the “1”, please gently pass it on to some of the other 22.

Thankfully, not everyone will suffer.

But it’s important that as many as possible understand.

PS — Thanks very much to blogger Francesca Baker for her recent post about “Nudge Your Way to Happiness.” Here’s what she had to say.

Deviations from the norm.

When did you last hear the Supertramp song “Take The Long Way Home”?

OK, guilty pleasure admission. I have to confess I’ve got it playing right now.

Admittedly the song’s lyrics suggest that someone’s taking the long way because they don’t actually *want* to go home, but let’s just take the title at face value.

It’s a good sentiment, though, don’t you think? No, not the idea of being a penguin (gosh, this is getting complicated) – the thought of sometimes taking the less direct route.

Sometimes you can’t. Time’s short, you’re in a hurry. Places to go, people to meet. Yada yada.

There’s a lot to be said, however, for going a different way – for altering your routine so it’s not mind-numbingly familiar. And this particularly applies, I believe, when you’re on foot.

Take the long way home and you’ll see new sights. Take the long way home and you’ll think new thoughts. Just as usefully, take the long way home and you’ll add to the day’s exercise tally.

Exercise is good for you but it’s not always easy to get enough. The trick, I think, is to build it into the stuff you’re already doing every day.

Take the stairs, not the lift.

Rather than moving your car between errands, park it once and walk from one to the other.

And, of course, take the long way home.

On being kind.

All things considered, do you tend to think of yourself as a kind person?

Most of us would probably see ourselves in this way.

But even the kindest person can sometimes behave in a very unkind way to one individual in their life.

This person?


We sympathise with others, yet criticise ourselves.

We’re patient with others, impatient with ourselves.

Tolerant of others, unforgiving of ourselves.

So if you find yourself treating yourself unkindly today, please stop.

It’s not unreasonable to be kind to yourself, it really isn’t.

It’s only fair.

Do you need recharging?

I was just trying to remember the last time I used a landline phone, and I was pretty sure it was months ago – then realised I’ve answered a few incoming calls at KZSU, the Stanford radio station where I volunteer.

On the whole, though, I’m pretty much a 100% cellphone guy now, and certainly don’t have a landline of my own.

Relying on a cellphone means, of course, remembering to charge its battery, which is now an ingrained habit immediately before bedtime. Lock the door, clean my teeth, get a glass of water, plug in my phone.

It’s funny that this can be such an obvious habit to get into, whereas when our emotional batteries are low, it’s easy to slip into thinking they’ll somehow be better tomorrow, even if we don’t do anything about them.

That’s a bit like imagining that the electron fairy will call round in the night to waft amps into our phones.

Amazingly, time can actually be something of a healer when it comes to low spirits. Give a low mood long enough, and it may — almost magically — sort itself out.

But that’s really leaving a lot to chance, isn’t it? Better by far to take the bull by the horns, and take some action that’s designed to lift your mood.

You know, things like connecting with a friend… getting out for a walk… eating a tasty, healthy meal… thinking through the things you have to be grateful for…

Surely, neglecting your low spirits is as ill-advised as forgetting to charge your phone?

So why not do a little self-reflection right now? If you’re quite alright, that’s great. But if you’re not, perhaps it’s time for some self-care.

Today. Now.

Give yourself a recharge.