DIARY

Random Thoughts || Pre-birthday Depression

Birthday

“Every year without fail, around about mid-May, the air around me becomes distorted, unbalanced, distasteful. Things are not themselves. My life feels up for grabs. It’s a strange feeling, as if the future had been concertina-d and was being thrown at me.

The reason? My birthday looms”.

Theslightnuttywriter.com

Birthday depression sounds so unreal, yet is very unpredictable, rarely talked about but rather prevalent. This depression varies in age; People as young as 6 year old and as old as 61, experience this depression.

Birthday depression also called birthday blues or birthday sadness comes a day to your birthday or weeks before and the feeling lingers till after your birthday.

Birthdays should be like one of the happiest days in a person’s life so it’s illogical to feel bad on that day but since it’s something I’ve had to experience year after year, I just had to name it.

I searched to see if it’s normal to be extremely sad about or on your birthday and reading from other people having the same feelings brought me comfort of sorts and the strength to share my own story. I also found out that a lot of people are going through the same pains I’m experiencing, some even a lot worse.

WHAT CAUSES BIRTHDAY DEPRESSION?

The following are paramount causes;
1) Thoughts of unachieved goals
2) Denial over the fact you’re aging
3) Having unsentimental parents or bailing friends.
4) How much appreciation you got on that day.
5) The desire to have a good day.
6) Sad things that occurred same day in history.
7) Dissatisfaction with life
8) The need to feel significant and appreciated by loved ones.
9) A number of people get depressed also because their love, time and effort is not reciprocated.

Mine is a quite peculiar case as I always get down three weeks or so before my birthday which makes May a dreaded month… Mood swing is paramount, I am usually very touchy and so I get into a lot of troubles that makes me lose a lot of friends and this affects June a lot as we end up recovering our relationship after the birthday. Coupled with the fact that my birthday is always some weeks to exam, trying to get friends together is hard as everyone has plans already.

Some days before my birthday, I begin fearing the disasters that would happen on said day, I remember all the birthdays I had celebrated for the past nine years and reminisce on the roles of ‘friends’

THE STORY

I was born on the 20th of June many years ago. I slightly remember my 10th birthday mainly because of my gift; a pretty book about health and on it was written my names in full and my father’s signature. I valued that book a lot maybe cos its the closest I had come to a birthday present.

In Secondary school, I had a different perception of birthday, I got a feel of celebrating birthday in the hostel where even though there were very little opportunities for birthday presents and cake, you could see the love and eagerness of your friends to make you feel special on your big day even without doing so much. From paper cards to snacks to dinning foods to provisions to smuggled-in sandals, perfumes, rose flower stalk, wristwatches etc… You could feel the love genuinely.

This genuine love I never got to feel until I got to SS2, where I had to make a head price for the first person that wishes me a happy birthday once it clocks 12am. The ideal school birthday was being woken up by 12 midnight with water, strokes of cane and maybe even singing of birthday songs by friends/classmates. Plenty birthday notes from friends and admirers, shout outs, gifts as well as plenty hugs flood in till the day is finally over and then the celebrant buys snacks for her friends and seals the birthday celebration.

On my 13th birthday, I was on my JSS3 (after WAEC) long holiday and I was alone at home with my little sister who was in primary school at that time. Best believe it, I killed, dressed and cooked my birthday chicken myself and even the rice… Boy was I sad.

The year I turned 14, not a single person wished me. Not my friends or any call from a member of my extended family. I stalked my hostel mistress’ house in anticipation of a call… None came until very later in the day; Network wahala ish. I was unconsolable, I cried like I heard a bad news till my eyes were very puffy and red, snot dripping off my chin. In my mind, it meant that no one loved me enough to care, I wasn’t wanted or needed. Frankly, I broke down afterwards, I became very sick.

My 16th birthday was one of my most anticipated birthdays. It was my last birthday in secondary school, I shove away every little thoughts of pessimism, I was social, I had opened up to a lot of people, I had a lot of “friends”. I believed it would be fine, I let go and told people about my birthday, my friend even gave an announcement and wrote it on the board. I was happy.

I couldn’t sleep that night though cos all the negative thoughts I managed to put under control during the week came flooding back in. I feared that history would repeat itself and I’ll feel worse because I dared to feel better about the forthcoming birthday. I remember also praying that night that 20th never comes or that I’ll sleep and wake up without realization that that day is my birthday.

And I was granted that wish only in reverse… I remembered my birthday and every other person forgot. Once I woke up in the morning, it hit me, today is my birthday, it’s 6:30am and no one came to do the official 12′ o clock birthday in celebrant’s corner mass. We went off for school morning devotion and everything was very regular I had to check if it really was 20th.

Got back to my room later, did my laundry, took my bath and no one seemed to realize what was going on, I dressed up and went for Saturday prep, bent over my desk and cried my heart out; from quiet, heartfelt sobs to emotional, turbulent, breast jigging unconsolable ones that makes snot bubble out over your face… I was a wreck. I cried for at least 30 mins because it had become a norm to cry on my birthdays. When I finally felt satisfied and I went out to wash my face, it was then my classmates started with the “What’s wrong”, “It’s your birthday and you’re crying”, “Ohh, is it her birthday”, “Happy birthday”… It was then it hit me, maybe I’m actually invisible, maybe I’m alone in my own world, maybe I don’t matter.

Returned to my hostel, I was invited over to the school clinic by a hostel mistress to speak with my mum and then birthday chants were sang and prayers were made for me. A friend later on said she left me a small thing under my pillow, boy was I glad… My first real birthday present, she wished me happy birthday and some others said same… I hurriedly ran to my room to find two galas and one Capri-sonne (A paper fruit juice) and a junior approaching with a Lacasera and a gala and a Big birthday card from someone else. Later on, some people said they were not aware but that only made me feel worse as I could not understand why I’ll be all hyper about their birthdays and they don’t even know mine. Unfortunately, this story you just read was my best birthday in secondary school.

In 2016, I think this should be my best birthday celebration. I fixed my hair for the occasion I was hyper about, my dad gave me some money to buy stuff for myself (he does that every year). For the want of where to spend my birthday, I left for my tailor’s shop, told her it was my birthday, we chatted excitedly about school and after that I left for my Uncle’s shop and he gave me a Gionee water bottle, I don’t think I’ll ever forget that.

In the evening, I walked into a restaurant by myself, took some selfies, bought French fries and some grilled chicken for I and my family members. Also, I received calls from some friends as well as responded to Facebook and WhatsApp birthday messages… The best birthday had to come to an end. Yes, I cried, I cried because I felt so alone yet in the midst of many on that day.

I cry on my birthday year after year and although my 2017 birthday had no strings attached, that year surprisingly my tears welt closed up. Last year, I turned 18… Celebrating my first glance at adulthood. Once more dreams and goals racing above the roof, my optimism was average. It was to be my first birthday in the University, I wanted a real celebration with a new hair, makeup on fleek, photoshoot, twinning with my friends, a birthday cake and lots of people to wish me well but none of these came through.

Days before, my mum called and when I told her about my plans, she was not having it and so she said something that although true, made me very angry and moody but she eventually called to place her words better.

By 20th, I had lost my vibes; my natural hair was packed up roughly, I put on my law student uniform and the day went rather unnoticed, my phone battery was low. Got a number of birthday wishes in class as well as promises made by friends to compensate their seeming absence (which had not been fulfilled till this day)

After class, I was alone in my room, my roommates/friends that were giving me the ginger to keep my head high balled on me last minute. I didn’t have where to go neither did I have a class to attend. The depressing thoughts returned, my eyes were threatening to leak meanwhile I was struggling to keep a ‘birthday without tears’ on record and so I went out for a walk which eventually made me feel better.

My roommates later came back agitating for their supposed right to eat cake and one of them decided to contribute to the purchase of the cake and off we went. I received calls from some family members, checked out my Facebook notification on the way. We took pictures, ate cake and slept and that was the end of the day.

I remember mentioning to my friend about a year ago that I don’t like my birthday and to him, he felt it was very weird for a girl to not like her birthday. I couldn’t explain to him exactly how I felt and so I’m saying this for the benefit of those I’ve used same lines on.

My birthdays

Do I hate them? No

Do I feel they are irrelevant? No

Are they big deals to me? Yes

Am I a fan of my birthdays? Yes

So what exactly is wrong?

I love birthdays, I love the thought that I’m approaching a new year, the fact I’m growing up and getting to see a clearer view of the world. I love birthday presents; presents don’t make me depressed, what makes me depressed is seeing that nobody knows me good enough to get me a good present. I’m a fan of those mushy-mushy lovey-dovey text messages and love notes prepared specially on birthdays, I love to be amassed in love even on my birthdays, I love my pictures floating all over my news feed, yes these things make me happy but then I never got them and because I don’t like burdening people, I adopted a coping strategy of take-am-as-you-see-am and I trained myself to cover my tracks well and keep my plastic smile on always. It’s really disturbing the fact that I try to do stuff for my friends on their birthdays but it never feels reciprocated.

I noticed it was easier for me to pretend nothing was happening as I didn’t want to draw attention to myself, but worse, I feared that nobody would make a fuss even if they knew. I know all these is partly my fault, I don’t remind anyone it’s my birthday close to the day because of the fear they won’t bother, but then, I feel upset when people forget. I guess these feelings stern partly from society’s expectations that your birthday is a big to-do as it’s your day to shine but life just thinks otherwise.

‘Can I just have one super awesome birthday? One that would make me forget the other past ones?’

WHAT FACEBOOK’S GOT TO DO WITH IT

Did I mention how disappointing Facebook is in reminding someone of their birthdays?

Facebook publishes birthdays and so when your friends don’t wish you a happy birthday on Facebook, it means they saw the notification but didn’t think it was important enough to do anything about it. This makes you feel like you are not important enough for them to type out two words and hit a button. That’s depressing.

Facebook has had a big impact on reducing my self worth on my birthdays to how many birthday posts I get.
I know I don’t need validation from anyone but on my birthday, unconsciously, I crave for that validation from my Facebook timeline, WhatsApp status or text messages from people who I believed I meant something to and when it’s not forthcoming, I break down.

It’s really sad that I’m worried about stupid stuff like Facebook, text messages to feel grateful for what I have. I mean, its totally ridiculous.

HOW I TRIED TO SAVE MYSELF

I’ve spoken to some people about this feeling but no one seems to understand.

I was told by someone that this blues is caused by high expectations and so all I had to do was pretty much (in a nutshell) to lower my expectations but what do you do when your expectations are already so low and for the worst… And your horribly low expectations are completely met, no matter what, every year?

I keep my expectations very low in real life most of the times and that helps me a lot from disappointments even if something goes wrong. But on my birthday, I cannot stop myself, I expect too much from others.

Every year, I pray and tell myself “it will be better than last year” and try to get hold of myself and subdue the emotions that come with growing up by acting nochantly about the whole thing. Now, it’s weeks from my birthday and this nervous feeling is back, again I’m expecting a good gift but I don’t want to stretch my luck.

WHAT I WANT?

I have this fear, it’s like I’m embarrassed about my birthday like it’s never going to be as grand or as festive as it should be. It’s never felt like “my day” and I’ve also always felt that no matter how people would try to make it special, I never feel special causing me to feel unloved & unappreciated by the ones closest to me. It’s hard to even admit this because it sounds very selfish of me.

I want so desperately not to care about my birthday at all, but I can’t figure out how. I wish I could skip the day to be honest. I never want to make my birthday about me or push my friends to do anything. I just hope they care enough that they actually acknowledge it in some other way than a Facebook happy birthday. It’s not always about gifts (had a lot of birthdays without gifts). Its about having good company of people who can look you in the eye and tell you Happy birthday with love and mean it.

Now that I’ve come to expect this feeling and grown familiar with its rise and fall, I’m better able to deal with it. I’ve learnt that “our emotions change based on our perception of events and not based on events themselves”.

Note: This is a reminder to take your friends/family’s birthdays a bit seriously. Respect, appreciate your friends and let them know how much you cherish them by both your words and your actions. As some of them may be going through things they feel embarrassed to talk about. I hope we all get better eventually.

Sending lots of love and hugs to everyone who finds this post and is currently struggling. This year would be beautiful, I promise you and God as promised same too. Here’s to better birthdays for you from now on.

Love,
Golibe.

26 thoughts on “Random Thoughts || Pre-birthday Depression”

  1. Your blog post captured how I have felt about all my birthdays.. I think boarding school made it worst, felt I wasn’t enough for my self then… Even in university, with everyone around me making their hair, doing makeup, photoshoot and getting loads of birthday gifts. It felt too much for me. Even went to extent of trying to give my friends gift on their birthdays (which I am meant to do) but had a little reason at the back of my mind so they would give me on my birthday. Which I didnt receive though. I even wrote a blog post concerning this recently as I was feeling so unhappy on my recent birthday cos I won’t reach the standard of other girls on their birthday but it turned out awesome at the end of the day.. Got a birthday gift from my brother that compensated for all the lost birthdays and had extra special friends that made me feel so loved even though we where far away.. My last birthday made me realize that all it takes is to not expect much on the day and to stop comparing your life with others. Although this may not apply to everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’re not alone darling. Every year I also suffer from birthday depression. Tbh, I think in my part, it’s to do with having so expectations. Now, I’m just going to approach it as any other day, but with more thanks. Just a day of reflection and to thank God for seeing me through. Your special birthday will come.. just keep the thoughtful and caring person that you are. You will soon meet the person that will make it all worth it ☺️

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I actually I’m that annoying humanbeing you might know that is overly excited about birthdays. So, all I have for you is major love coming your way. And girl, you entitled to feel whatsoever way you feel!!! Plus, this is so natural btw…so, dont stay in that rut for too long.
    and……happy birthday in advance.
    Love, sharon.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I didn’t have a birthday cake till I was 18. I have never had a birthday party. My parents don’t even remember my birthday. My dear I have given up on the whole birthday ish.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. God this post is so heartbreaking! I wish I could actually give you a hug. I haven’t had terrible experiences like yours, but I did have a period where I cried on each birthday because I was so scared. I’m way better now. I thought people would go all out for my 20th but in the end only a few did, and even if I thought I’d be rolling in cash by the end of it I didn’t lol, but you know what?

    I decided to take charge! I made an important step regarding my business and started pitching to people and that has made a whole lot of difference! I had a wishlist for my birthday I posted on Instagram, and you know what? Slowly but surely, those items that I wished for are trickling in – but it’s not that other people have bought them for me! I’m buying them myself! I believe that we make our own happiness and shouldn’t rely on others too much, and I think that’s what you should do. Personally, I find that as I get older I’m not too hot on birthday celebrations – I’ve had dinners in the past and one failed birthday party, but it’s okay. Spending time on my own reflecting should be just enough, thinking of how to get my money up should be just enough, followed by thanking God for another year.

    I hope your birthday this year is slightly better than all the other years. Start planning for it! Don’t rely on others, do anything to make it special – photo shoot! Hair! Nails! New outfit! If I lived near you I wouldn’t mind shooting you even though I’m not a ‘professional’ photographer. I wanted to do a birthday photoshoot this year but was quite broke – but then I thought to myself, a photo can be taken any other day, it mustn’t be today, and I was fine! Take charge girl! Get those number balloons in silver or gold and tote them around, stop relying on others! It is YOUR day! And of course, don’t be too hard on yourself – achievements will all come with time, trust the process.

    Damn, this is the longest comment I’ve left on a post in a while! Whew!
    https://mindofamaka.com

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yesss! Love that take-charge attitude! I learned to do the same after hiding away on my birthdays for a few years. I cherish the time I get to spend with God, my family, and myself on the day. Even though I’m not that assertive, I remind people about my birthday. Like I’ll plan what I want to do and send out invitations a month in advance so it’s hard for people to say they can’t make it. It won’t always work, but it really feels good when it does.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m emotional right now… I get the birthday depression and fear too… But I really don’t like to cry so I just pretend to be happy…my sixteenth birthday was really good though. My parents don’t forget but meh….FRIENDS!!! And then I’m like “well obviously I don’t actually matter” and the birthday depression leads to further and other types of depression and since my birthday is on November, it lingers till maybe Christmas .. It’s just life…life is sad…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This was a longgggg read. Unlike you, depression doesn’t come always for me. It’s an on-off thing. Some birthdays are anticipated when I’m at a good place in my life. I dread the ones that come when I’m counting regrets and failures.

    I bet yours will soon get better. It’s jsut a matter of time. The heartache that draws near when the D day approaches will slowly vanish. You’ll find genuine love that will make you so glad to mark each year and be grateful you were born to experience such love.

    You’ll make incredible success that’ll make you wish to mark each year you were born because you couldn’t be anymore grateful to God for having been born when you did.

    You’ll arrive at a contented position in your live that’ll make you look forward to sharing the day you were born to create joy for others.

    Happy birthday in advance. In a matter of years, you’ll look forward to the day with only gladness of heart ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Happ birthday dear. You are loved in more ways you can think of. The story of doing good is magical. You need not go all out for peoplebecause you expect same from there. You do good because its all that matters.
    Sometimes you have to take your happiness into your own hands and it need not depend on people.
    Yes! Parent and friends may forgot but yo do remember. So what do you do? Go in search of happiness, get yourself that gift, it need not necessarily be on your birthday. Other days are your Bestdays. So take charge! Happy birthday, once again!
    I remember my growing up days, i didnt need to wait to have a date before i could go. Out, I save money, take myself out… Either I do the sitting out or I do the take home package.. It has always being my best feeling and moments ever!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Happy Birthday love.. ♥️
    I don’t care much for my birthday… I mean.. I anticipate the coming, I’m excited about it coming, but on the day, it’s like who cares?
    I wrote a long post for my 2017 birthday titled ‘Silhouettes’, about how we are all shadows and some of us have light. I wondered if I had light there. I don’t know what triggered that post, but I never published it. I deleted it and didn’t do a birthday post.
    I spent my last birthday doing everyone’s laundry… 😂 Funny now, but not so much then. I learnt to stop expecting.. More like I’m learning to stop expecting people to do stuff for me on my birthday because most times it never comes and you’ll end up being heartbroken. One time my bunkmate called me at home by 12am on my birthday, which was weird for me because I’m not used to people calling me or sending texts. I really just wanted to go to sleep.
    I’d want my birthday to be treated as a special day, but I also expect it not to because you don’t always get what you want.
    Happy birthday love… If I was with you, I’d try to make you smile today.. But u hope you’re happy today. No more crying. Just get yourself something sweet, sing to yourself, plan for your future, make goals and move on.
    God keep you.
    ♥️

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Finally, your birthday is here and i pray you get all the excitements and appreciation your heart yearns for. With the benefit of hindsight, i can say that we all have this emptiness in our hearts, just like the dough nut and believe you me, no human being can fill it for you.You are God’s masterpiece, fearfully and wonderfully made. Until you know who you are (not just to sing it in song)’ and realize the immense potentials God endowed you with, you may continue to look onto people for the elusive satisfaction or happiness. I pray for you my sweetest,and i pray that like it is advised in Psalm 37;4,you will ” delight thyself also in the Lord ;and He shall give you the desires of your heart”. The good Lord understands your frame, that’s why from the foundation of the world, He said unto you REJOICE.Paul repeated it for emphasis when he said in Philipian 4:4 REJOICE in the LORD always and again i say unto you REJOICE.
    So, no matter the circumstance dear, live up to the true meaning of your name, GOLIBE, REJOICE and the joy of the Lord will be your strength, propelling you to unimaginable heights. Amen

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Happy belated birthday, Golibe! I’m so sorry you’ve been hurt so many times. But I love the way you’ve continued to look forward to you birthday each year. You seem like you still have hope, even though it might have been dimmed.

    It’s so hurtful to celebrate your friends’ birthdays but when your turn comes, they don’t celebrate yours. And the Facebook notification thing – ouch. I tried for a very long time to ignore my birthday and keep my friends from finding out about it. I set my birthday to private on Facebook so no one could see it, and I even went so far as to tell them that I didn’t want any messages on my birthday. I was so afraid that nobody would remember, and I didn’t want to deal with that pain.

    You should be loved and celebrated on your birthday, and I hope you are absolutely showered with affection in the future. Hoping this is a wonderful year for year ahead, your best one yet! God bless.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve never really liked my birthdays. From as far as I can remember, my birthdays were never the happiest days of my life. Last year though, I was allowed a few hours of happiness (as two special people decided to make me happy 😊).

    I don’t actually dread the day but somehow, the day before always manages to spoil my mood. Tomorrow’s my birthday and I’m in a bad mood so I wonder how this one will go.

    The expectations; they’re always going to be there. It’s human to expect, be it mighty or low expectations. I also don’t like to tell people about my birthday just ‘cause I feel they should know and make me feel happy that day. Making people happy on their birthday doesn’t ever guarantee they’ll reciprocate on yours. I’ve just learnt to take it in good stride.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. You just wrote everything and every feeling I get on my birthday. I’m so used to having very low expectations that every year all I do is wear sweat pants and a top, cook noodles, lock myself up in my room (no one cares to even ask whatsup) and watch movies on my laptop till I sleep off. The closest I have gotten to a gift is a book that my dad gave me 2years ago and I have never even bothered to open the book (looks boring). And then I have social media to remind me that my friends are doing well, wearing fancy clothes, dating some hot dude or a celebrity, some are married, living large and I’m just here. So I feel you and I hope this year will be better for us. ❤️❤️
    I love this by the way😘 and you are really beautiful

    Liked by 1 person

  14. You just wrote everything and every feeling I get on my birthday. I’m so used to having very low expectations that every year all I do is wear sweat pants and a top, cook noodles, lock myself up in my room (no one cares to even ask whatsup) and watch movies on my laptop till I sleep off. The closest I have gotten to a gift is a book that my dad gave me 2years ago and I have never even bothered to open the book (looks boring). And then I have social media to remind me that my friends are doing well, wearing fancy clothes, dating some hot dude or a celebrity, some are married, living large and I’m just here. So I feel you and I hope this year will be better for us. ❤️❤️
    I love this by the way😘

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Happy birthday dear. I remembered I read somewhere in this post that your birthday is 20th of June. Happy birthday. I pray that God continue to keep you, bless you, favor you, honor you, make His face to shine upon you. Happy birthday❤️🎂🎂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. This blog post is so profound and I’m glad I read it.
    I can relate to the fear of not being noticed or shown love on your birthday. This is something I’ve never voiced out but for most of my birthdays until I turned 21, I used to be scared no one would call me by 12am and everyone would forget or I won’t get presents. Exact same thing. This is pretty embarrassing because it seems like you’re searching for self love and validation from people which isn’t what it is

    On one hand I’d like you to reevaluate your friendship. Acquaintances differ from friends and true friends will go the mile to make you feel loved on your birthday.

    What I can say also is, eventually it wouldn’t matter anymore. I turned 21 this year, spent my birthday in a bus to Lagos and did nothing the whole day. I can’t even remember if anyone called at midnight this year cuz I actually just slept, woke up and woke my friends up screaming it’s my birthday.
    It turned out to be the happiest birthday of my life and there was no birthday dinners or photoshoot and fewer birthday gifts. I hope to read 2020’s post and see how you’ve grown a lot more

    Liked by 1 person

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