What the 'Birthday Blues' Are Like for Someone With Depression

On the eve of my 22nd birthday, I feel a strange surge of emotions. It’s another year I survived with my depression and anxiety. Another year of memories, both painful and full of joy. I sit back and reflect on all I have been through, since the very first day I can consciously remember wanting to be someone else, wanting to harm myself or become nonexistent entirely. As I watch the clock and count the minutes slowly going by, I wonder a great deal.

What will this year bring? Will I be a year older and wiser, or will I stay the same? I don’t want to waste another 365 days lying in bed, crying until I can no longer make a sound, and wanting to disappear.

Will I change my perspective on certain things?  Maybe learn to love the parts of myself I once wanted to cut away before?  I used to hate my curly hair, but now, it’s not so bad. Maybe I can learn to love more bits and pieces of myself in time.  That’s definitely something I’d like to wish for when I blow my candles out tomorrow.

Living with depression often makes me view occasions like birthdays and New Year’s as critical moments in time.

They offer an opportunity to turn over a new leaf, wrap the past up in a box and put it on a shelf way back in the storage of my mind. Thinking of this new year, I am filled with a sense of hope and dread. I fear not being brave enough to expand my comfort zone, find the courage to achieve the things I want or did not even know I needed in my life. I am terrified of not taking on the adult world by storm by completing my Masters in counseling, finding a job to get me by during school and just taking on a whole new set of responsibilities and expectations in general.

I want to be more independent. I want to take more risks. I want there to be excitement and joy and I need it to outweigh the bad this time. Depression is like a dark shadow that follows me through every stage like the Grim Reaper, biding his time until the right moment comes along to seize my soul. When I turned 21, the age gave me many new adventures and experiences, many beneficial but there was also a great deal of pain and despair.

With the unknown ahead of me, I hope to seize this opportunity to take better care of myself, both mentally and physically.

I hope, a year from now, on the eve of my next birthday, I can look back on 22 and actually smile and hope for more of the same.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Unsplash photo via Sofiya Levchenko.

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