Birthdays used to be exciting for me. I’ve never been one of those people who would shit on the concept of birthdays for whatever reason. I loved them. I think birthdays are important to celebrate because they remind us that we’re alive.
My last two birthdays, however, have been grim. I recently saw a Twitter thread that described it as birthday depression, but even before then, I’d already used the term. Birthday depression is a feeling of intense sadness that comes as your birthday approaches. It mostly presents as a lack of desire to celebrate or even mark the day.
In 2020, I got depressed after my birthday. I released my second poetry collection FLOAT, which I had been working on for months prior. I was excited to finally have it out but afterwards, I had a terrible depressive spell. I felt empty and alone even though I really wasn’t.
2021 was worse. I was already inexplicably sad before my birthday came and as it drew closer, I grew worse. I shut down my WhatsApp for months and was out of touch with a lot of people. I only struggled to come around for the week of my birthday but even then, the messages and attention only further drained me.
The greatest irony was that this was a pretty good time in my life. I was objectively doing better than ever, but I was just mentally incapable of appreciating it.
The worst part was, my birthday passed and then I hated how I felt in those times. The inability to appreciate the love and attention I got began to eat at me. The depression was (partially) past, but now I had to deal with the guilt of being depressed.
The past year has been good for me. I can’t lie. A lot of things I’ve wanted have happened either just the way I planned them to, or close enough. Of course, I’m not exactly where I want to be yet, but there’s a lot that is different too.
This blog, for one, is something I’m very proud of. I’d wanted a blog for the longest time and eventually, I made it happen. I’m proud of the emotional growth I went through in the past year. A lot about me changed as an individual and is still changing, but the difference for me so far is palpable and I enjoy that.
Career-wise? I’ve grown a lot too. I hate that ASUU is still on strike, I’d hoped to be done with the university experience by now, but I can’t deny how impactful the last 5 months have been for me. Almost half of the past year of my life has been spent away from school because of the strike, but every moment has been worthwhile.
I’m grateful for the people in my life too. While I didn’t meet a lot of new people in the past year, all of the relationships I had grew deeper and more meaningful.
All this happened, and still, I’ve felt birthday depression creeping on me as the day draws close. Even more than in the previous years, it feels like I have more to be sad about because, despite my wins, I’ve lost some too.
But I remind myself, as I tried to in my last blog post, that sadness always makes time for itself. So, if nothing else, I consider it a birthday gift to myself to not give in to birthday depression this year.
I deserve to be happy and I’m going to create that for myself. I’ll let myself appreciate the life I have, and the people I have around me. I’ll let myself go through the day without getting crushed under the weight of my own expectations. I’ll let myself be happy.
If birthday depression is something you’ve ever experienced and are probably still dealing with, I hope you find a way to be happy. Make a list of all the things you’re thankful for as I’ve done above and don’t let yourself forget. Our birthdays are important. Let’s not allow depression to steal them.
Birthday depression is the worst and I hope you never experience it. But if you do, don’t judge yourself for it. Life is sometimes hard and it’s not easy keeping your head up all the time. Just remember not to let the sadness linger. Create time to be happy.
I turn 23 on July 17th and the thought of that is frightening (I mean, where does the time go?), but I’m happy too. My life is incredible and I have a lot to be thankful for. I have you to be thankful for.
If you read this far, thank you. It’s not my birthday yet but I’ll consider it an early birthday present if you share this post. You can also send me money – 2208670186 (Victory Okoyomoh, Zenith Bank) ?