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Why Birthdays Are So Hard When You Live With Depression

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

I find it hard to express why I don’t like my birthday, but feel it’s important to do so because I know so many others struggling with mental illness feel similarly.

In simple terms, I don’t want to celebrate a life I don’t want. A life I, at times, feel forced into by my friends and family. That’s not to say I’m not grateful for the people I know and who love me — it just means that out of these 23 years I’ve been alive, I haven’t felt OK in the last 10. But that’s OK.

And while I find every day a challenge, my birthday has become the most difficult as my struggles with depression, anxiety and PTSD have grown. I wonder how my life would have been if I never had any mental health issues, or what if I was never born at all? The thing I tell myself is that without my issues and without my life, I’d never be able to help someone else struggling. I truly believe that is what I am meant to do with my life. I believe all of my struggles make me that much more able to understand what others are going through.

I understand when someone says they are suicidal but don’t want to die. I understand that walking into a room full of people you don’t know feels like you are drowning in the ocean. And I know what it’s like to feel so alone that you don’t know where to go to get help. I’ve self-harmed, I’ve attempted suicide and I’ve been hospitalized. I continue to go to therapy after years of it because mental health issues can be lifelong, and there is no shame in that. It’s OK to take medication every day. There is no time limit on the health of your mental state and well-being.

Holidays, birthdays and anniversaries can be triggering to those of us struggling. It’s on those days the most that we have to remind ourselves what it’s all about, why we fight each day and when we need a bigger push than ourselves. Maybe it’s family, or a job, your pet, your partner — whatever it is — it’s worth fighting for. So are you. You are more than your mental illness and you are not alone.

Getty Images photo via RuthBlack

Originally published: December 5, 2018
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