03 July 2018 / Manila

Birthday Blues: It's not always a Happy Birthday and it's Okay


I celebrated my birthday a few days ago. “Celebrate” is an inaccurate term because I didn't really do anything that day. Just a week ago, I was searching for flights. I was thinking of going to a remote island here in the Philippines. I thought I wanted to go to the still unexplored San Vicente, Palawan.

I always travel during my birthday (or sometimes before/ after when it's busy at work). Last year I was in the US, the previous year in a surfing hub in the north of the Philippines, the year before that in Vietnam, and so on.

This year, I didn't feel like doing what I have always enjoyed. I even found a cheap ticket to Palawan just a week before, maybe it was my birthday luck. I would have rejoiced and booked it right away. It took me days to think about it though. Do I really wanna go? Do I just want to keep a tradition that I don't feel like doing this time?

I became honest with myself. The truth is I don't want to do anything on my birthday. I want to hide inside my small room and sleep. And that's what I did.

I was feeling really sad and lonely the day before my birthday. I started my birthday morning crying and locked in my room. It felt like I wasted a lot of time. I have not yet achieved dreams and goals I have set years ago. I felt useless.

I have been going through this melancholy ride for the past years but I have always set aside my sadness on my birthday. I have to be happy on my birthday. I was always happy on my birthday. But this year was different and it felt odd even for me.

So what else do I do? Self-diagnose with Google :)

Maybe most of you know this term but since I have always been happy on my day this would be my first time to encounter the word: Birthday Blues or Birthday Depression.

According to Urban Dictionary, Birthday Blues is

general sadness or feeling down by a person on or around his birthday. The factors that can cause this include: - Being upset at officially aging another year. - Being disappointed or not having expectations met by a birthday celebration or gifts. - Being unsatisfied with accomplishments since the previous birthday.
-definition by Rat_Fink

With those factors defined above, I tick the 1st and last one as being applicable to mine. This surprised me because I realized how common it is. I have found medical journals and pop psychology websites offering advice on how to cope with it.

But it was my birthday and I was being lazy so I did not read those advice. I wanted to give myself the luxury of laziness and doing whatever, actually nothing.

What harm could 24 hours do anyway? I thought to myself, this day will pass like any other day.

I spent the day eating junk food. Something I can't always do or my doctor will kill me so that was some sort of luxury. I also watched Ted Talks the entire day hoping some speaker would enlighten me about life. Several Ted Talk videos later, I napped until it was already dark. And that made me satisfied because I haven't had a siesta in such a long time.

My day looked like a loser's day. But I don't care. I loved it the way it was. That restful day was the best gift I can give to myself after trying so hard in this life (work, Steemit, etc) and achieve nothing.

But my best take away is that, IT IS OKAY. I survived a depressing birthday. A few days later, I am very much okay with it and would not have done it any other way.

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