Birthday depression

pexels-photo-1462641Author: Emiliya Tsaneva

When you were a child, you probably couldn’t wait for your birthday to come – you were excited about all the gifts, the cake, the beautiful new dress, the special attention, and playing with your friends. You were so happy with the fact that you were growing up, that you would let everybody know how old you were with a sense of pride. Back then, you were simply able to enjoy life and your birthday. When we turn into adults, however, for many of us exactly the opposite is true – with your birthday around the corner, you slowly but surely start entering a depressive state. 

Only thinking about your birthday coming soon, you feel horrified. You try not to think about it until the very last moment. With your birthday getting closer, you gradually but surely start feeling foredoomed: “Life is horrible! There is no sense!”; “Why do these things always happen to me, things never seem to work out for me!?”; “I don’t want to get old, when did all those years pass by?”. On the day of your birthday you sometimes manage to actually enjoy the congratulations, however, more often you seem to get upset by them, since they are not in line with your inner depressive state and this polarity makes it even more painful for you. You might focus on one specific person and start feeling upset the whole day, because he/she hasn’t congratulated you yet. The rest of the congratulations doesn’t seem to matter, the important thing is that this person hasn’t thought about you, this is why you suffer.

Let’s have a look at some of the reasons for birthday depression:

  • Retrospective of your life - consciously or not, with your birthday coming closer, you start thinking about where you are at life, what have you achieved so far and what more you would like to achieve. This retrospective is actually something neutral – you are just checking what you want, what is already there, what is not there, respectively what you need to do in order to have what you currently don’t but want to have. However, people with depressive tendencies often judge themselves quite harshly about where they are in life. They don’t talk to themselves like: “I want a partner, but I don’t have one, so it’s time to focus on this and do the following steps in order to have a partner”. Their attitude is rather: “This year I don’t have a partner again! It’s not working out for me, I am not good for anything! What’s wrong with me? Why does nobody want me?!”. Exactly this judgemental way of thinking puts you further down into the depressive state. There is no mercy towards yourself – it’s not enough that you don’t have a partner, so that some important needs of yours are not met, but you keep hurting yourself by judging yourself that something is wrong with you. In such a case it is understandable that you want your birthday to be over, so that it is easier for you to focus on something else. Until your next birthday or the next time someone reminds you of how old you are.
  • Measuring your own importance – many people unconsciously use their birthday in order to prove themselves how important they are for others or how insignificant they actually are. In a way everybody is obliged to pay attention to us on our birthday, if a close person of ours forgets, this means he doesn’t cherish us enough. And this way on many birthdays, instead of enjoying your holiday and the people who gave you their attention from their whole heart, you suffer because someone forgot to greet you and because of that you ruin your holiday yourself. Often you feel bad about it even after the birthday is over – you keep getting upset that you are not important to that person, instead of focusing on being important to yourself. You kind of know that the world doesn’t revolve around you, but at least on your birthday you would like to be the center of everybody’s attention.
  • Fear of getting old – with every year passing by the body changes: you start gaining weight easily, it’s more difficult to lose the extra pounds, you start getting wrinkles, grey hair, you feel stiff, your back hurts, you have to go more often to see the doctor. You don’t want to be old, weak and ugly! You observe the old people around you and think that you don’t want to be like them. Your birthday suddenly reminds you that you get another year older. Could you look at it from this perspective – life gave you as a gift another year  and getting older is actually a privilege, which many people don’t get.

Here are some tips how to take care of yourself if you get depressive around your birthday:

  1. Accept that your birthday is a more sensitive time for you and plan in advance activities that make you happy. You could also share with a close person that it is a difficult time for you and invite them to spend the day with you. Don’t isolate yourself at home alone on your birthday, it would make things worse.
  2. Practice focusing on the things you have and the things that work out for you. Practise enjoying life as a whole. This way it will be easier for you to actually enjoy your birthday.
  3. Getting depressed around your birthday shows that there is something in your life that is weighing you down. Have a look at what it is and if you need support, contact a psychotherapist.
  4. Put some effort into stabilizing your self-worth perception. This way you won’t get upset from the outside world so easily.
  5. Have a look for examples of elderly people, whom you like – how do they look, what do they do in their lives, what is their health state, what kind of relationships they have. And now make a plan of what you can do in order to have the most pleasant old age possible.

Your birthday is a present! Even when there are some heavy times in your life, it is worth living! I am happy that you are here! 

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