Difficulty level: Increased.

I’m now one month into the 2500 Clue Challenge! It’s been a month of two halves. In the first half I was able to dedicate my time to the Challenge as I was not working. In the second half I managed to get a job! I’m now a forecaster for MetraWeather in Reading. Forecasting work is done in shifts, and as a result I’ve been working some strange hours and have been very tired. I’ve been able to do the Challenge, but it now has to fit around work and my updates are a little more sporadic on the challenge website.

In January I solved 257 out of 653 clues in January, which puts me about 3 to 4 days ahead of where I need to be. Most days I solved between 5 and 10 clues. The occasional day where I do well in a crossword, with up to 20 clues, has buoyed that average considerably. My favourite, and indeed slightly naughty, clue of the past month has been:  Roy in a position with girl on top? On the contrary (10). [Answer at the end of the email].

I update a large spreadsheet most days with statistics for each crossword. You can find that at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AvH9W6C-9XHRdE8tZnRmSXRTekVZbUpaRWhzN0tyTVE#gid=0 , which also contains links to pictures of each days crossword so you can check I’m not up to anything naughty.

So – why am I doing this? I have depression, and I want to raise awareness of what depression is and try and break through some of the taboo surrounding depression. When I was first depressed, I didn’t know it. It didn’t really cross my mind actually. I knew I was upset, but it just didn’t occur to me that it was depression. Then, when I realised it was, I was in denial about it for quite some time. For a good 4-6 months I didn’t seek help, even though it was clear to others around me that something wasn’t quite right. I didn’t seek help because I thought that I would be persecuted because of my depression, that I would miss out on work/social opportunities because of my depression, and that my friends would all leave me.

When I went to live in Oklahoma in 2007, the additional burden of living in a different country made me snap, and I had to seek help whether I liked it or not. I’ve been open to a few people about my depression and, to my surprise, they didn’t abandon me. They supported me. I know some people won’t be as lucky with their friends, but I’m going to suggest that – based upon the number of people who have admitted to me that they have depression – that everyone knows someone who has experienced it (or is still experiencing it). I still have depression, but my friends have really helped me through it, whether they knew it or not.

I’m doing this Challenge to raise money for Rethink Mental Health, and I’ve been asking you to pledge 1p (or 2p if you’re filthy rich!) for every clue I solve. As of the end of January, that pledge stands at £2.57 (for 1p per clue). I’ll next email you at either the end of February or when I reach £5, whichever happens sooner. In the mean time, SPREAD THE WORD! Please let people know about my Challenge, direct them to my website, get people to donate. I’m aiming to raise £1000 with the challenge, please help me to get there.

Oh, and the answer to that clue earlier? MISSIONARY.