Sunday 3 July 2022

Sometimes birthdays aren't a celebration

A plate with some rectangular slices of chocolate cake with decorations on top and some lit candles
A few weeks ago I had my 29th birthday but since becoming chronically ill in 2013 more and more as the years passed by I've found it harder to see my birthdays as something to celebrate.

This year was particularly hard as turning 29 I'm not where I planned to be as well as the thought that I'll be 30 next year! Back in 2012 and even before then I had my life (well my career as that was my sole focus in life) I'd planned that by the age I am now I'd be advancing in my career in mental health nursing with children and young people ready to start my psychotherapy training when I hit 30/my 30's.

Unfortunately that is not my life now and I know that I need to accept and work with my therapist on making a new plan for my life and to focus on the the present moment. I do practice gratitude and I do aim to celebrate the big and small achievements in my life. Simple things most people probably don't think twice about but for me they are truly are big things like recently managing to Shellac my nails when I haven't felt well enough to do so for a while bringing joy into my life as I love having my nails done.

So yes on my birthdays there are things in the past year that I have "celebrated" but I still find a birthdays a hard occasion to celebrate as I feel like my life is stuck. Most of my "celebrations" are over the small things (which are still important) but there are no big milestones moving my life forward in the way that that I'm wanting it to. Birthdays especially are a process of grieving as I see myself getting older and I wonder things like 'will I ever return to education?', 'will I even have gone on a holiday?', 'will I ever have my my own home?', 'will I even be able to work or volunteer?' and such things. Rather than happiness I often feel sadness on my birthday missing what I had planned for my life to be but struggling to plan a new alternative life for myself that's more accommodating for the challenges with my disabilities. I see my age increasing but I don't see my life going anywhere anytime soon and I feel so disheartened.

I do try to make my birthday a nice day. This year I kept to my usual schedule for the day that helps me manage my M.E and other illnesses. But I put on a facemask I'd been saving for a special occasion (so a birthday is a perfect reason to use it) and I put on some makeup (which always makes me feel brighter). For my afternoon activity I opened gifts from friends. For tea I asked if we could eat something I enjoyed so we had salad and fish finger wraps.

So it was a nice day and I did enjoy my birthday but there was a lot of thinking about 'here and now' and grief over the loss of the life I had planned out and I know now that I need to make a new plan both short and long term and I have started on that, it just takes some healing over the life I've lost.

I really hope that by next year I can truly celebrate my 30th birthday! - I've already asked if I could have some 3-0 balloons as a way to celebrate.