This is a personal piece. Please be trigger aware.
I recently had my birthday and it got me thinking and reflecting. So I thought I would share with you a few of my thoughts surrounding birthdays and tips for dealing with them.
I find birthdays quite stressful. I feel there is a lot of expectation associated with birthdays, especially to be happy. But when you have a mental illness this can feel impossible because, guess what world, mental illnesses don’t disappear for the day. Oh how joyous it would be if we could say to our mental illnesses “quit it, I’m having a day off for my birthday” but like I said it doesn’t work this way. I even had my support worker say I would feel better because its my birthday. How wrong she was.
How to deal with this expectation of happiness; first of all don’t put pressures on yourself (easier said than done I know) and don’t feel you need to put on a false face for others. Its your day. If you feel rubbish that’s OK. In fact it is OK to not be OK any day of the year. Just take the day as it comes.
Birthdays also have a huge expectation to socialise or do something to mark the day. If you dont want to though that is totally OK. It’s your day, no one else’s. Do what you enjoy. If you are forced into socialising though try to have something you enjoy arranged afterwards.
I find birthdays hard because I reflect and my past still bothers me intensely. For one birthday I was even sure I should not be alive to see it. If this is the case for you I first offer hugs. This is a tricky one to deal with but some self care may help. Self soothing and distractions can also be helpful.
On the whole birthdays can be times of stress (I even had a panic attack on my birthday) but there are ways to try and make em easier. If you have any tips please feel free to share them in the comments. And remember if you have a birthday it doesn’t have to be happy, sometimes you just need to take it as a day.