I have a confession to make.
This was the first year in five years that I wasn’t depressed on my birthday.
Now before I get into my story of things I want to talk about depression and birthdays in general.
Up until this year when I finally got the guts to do some Googling, I didn’t know that getting depressed on your birthday is a pretty normal thing.
But guess what? It IS!
Now, thinking back, it’s not super surprising to me that it’s common, because depression in general can be triggered by a variety of things-so why not by the fact that you’re getting older.
I remember the first year I was depressed on my birthday.
I was turning 21 at a college where I barely knew anyone.
So I went to an Olive Garden by myself at 3 in the afternoon and ordered way too much food (to go of course).
While I waited for my food, I sat at the bar and had my first legal drink-by myself.
Everyone I knew back home was living life. I got texts and Facebook messages, but that was about it.
I remember thinking how I had planned on being somewhere in life by the time I turned 21 and instead I was all alone at a college across the country, eating my feelings about being a “failure”…. To me, I had failed the moment I found out that I wouldn’t be graduating with my bachelor’s degree until I was 24 because I had taken all the wrong classes. My birthday was a reminder of how far away I was from reaching my dreams.
The next few years were just as tough. My birthday would come. My friends would be living their lives, working on their career or raising a family and I was a “failure” no closer (at least in my mind) to “success” than I had been the year before.
Every year for the past three years, I remember spending hours on the day in my bathtub crying.
Crying over an unrealized dream that I didn’t even recognize as “my dream” anymore.
But this year, I woke up on my birthday and that familiar depression was gone.
Why the change?
I think for me personally, I had finally graduated college, set some new life goals and have been working earnestly towards them.
While depression on your birthday could be caused by a lot of different things, I think for me it was caused by a lack of direction.
So when I found the direction I wanted to go, the depressive symptoms went away.
But, there are lots of other reasons why you might be depressed on your birthday.
Regardless of what your personal reason is, here are some tips from healthline.com, for dealing with Birthday blues.
- Don’t overly plan your day if you’re easily overwhelmed.
- Set it and forget it. Earlier in the year sign up for freebie birthday giveaways that will make you smile on the day of.
- Appreciate the people who are thinking of you.
- Think about the benefits of getting older.
- Mark the occasion in a way that feels right to you.
- Reflect on why you dislike your birthday.
- Spend time with friends, family, or pets.
- Volunteer or donate to charity.
- Get some exercise or spend time in nature.
- Don’t compare your celebration to others.
- Set realistic expectations.
The main thing I want you to take away from this article though, is that a LOT of people go through depressive bouts on their birthday. It’s normal, and you’re not alone.