Birthday depression might sound like an oxymoron. After all, it should be the day of great joy and fun, the day when you receive an abundance of attention, love, and warmth from others. But rest assured, the birthday blues is a thing.
Like any other big event in your life, your natal day can be a trigger for depression and anxiety. Your big day is sure enough to make you fall deep into introspection and self-evaluation.
The tricky thing about birthday depression psychology is that you might feel inexplicably tense and low even a few weeks prior. To prevent the upsetting emotions from upsurging, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the tell-tale signs of the approaching melancholy and what to do about it.
Symptoms of the birthday blues:
- low energy and motivation in the days approaching your birthday;
- not seeing any other reason to feel so sad;
- mild paranoia and anxiety;
- losing interest in things that used to bring you joy;
- lowered self-esteem;
- mental fog;
- social withdrawal;
- problems with sleep;
- significantly decreased or increased appetite;
- physical aches and pains;
- suicidal and/or self-harm thoughts.
Some of the most common reasons for being sad on your birthday:
- You're upset about getting one year older;
- You haven't achieved your goals and dreams yet;
- You don't meet society's expectations to someone your age;
- You don't feel comfortable being the center of attention;
- You expect others to surprise you, although they never do;
- You don't have anyone to celebrate with;
- You spend it with people you don't like;
- You feel overwhelmed by planning to do something special;
- You have bad memories associated with your birthday;
- You don't see the point in celebrating birthdays.
Ways to fight the birthday blues:
1. Write lists and letters
Are you feeling sad mainly for getting yet another year older? Then go through your past year and write a list of what you've done, experienced, and learned. Look back at your entire life and write another list of 100 things you feel grateful for. Yes, 100.
Write a letter to your 1 / 5 / 10 year older self and keep it as a gift from the past. Write a letter to your 1 / 5 / 10 year younger self and see how much you've grown as a person.
2. Show some love to your Mom
If you don't like to be the center of attention, you can shift it to your Mom. After all, she is the one who brought you here through enormous physical pain and embraced you with pure hope and unconditional love from the very first moment of your life. She sure deserves some sort of a gesture of respect, gratitude, and love, don't you think?
3. Don't expect and assume – communicate instead
I personally am guilty of expecting a little too much from others when it comes to my birthdays. I think that movies and TV shows with their frequent depictions of surprise birthday parties are to blame here. Apparently, they're not that common.
So if you do want a party, tell people. Don't assume that your friends and family should know and don't silently expect them to do things for you. If you asked me, this is one of the biggest glitches in human (non-)communication in general.
4. Don't wait for the last minute
As we've already discussed, the birthday blues can start kicking in weeks before the actual occasion. So if a perfect idea for how to spend your big day strikes your mind months in advance, start planning now.
Go ahead and book your dream trip, start organizing that party and inviting people, open a birthday account for expenses, think of your gift arrangements, etc. This way you'll associate your big day with positive anticipation.
5. Don't compromise
If you somehow always end up spending your special day not the way you want to or with people you don't really like, there's no wonder you don't enjoy your birthdays.
Cut this pattern and start being in charge of yourself and your own vision of how to spend this occasion. Don't compromise and learn how to say no.
6. Give back to others
Some people just don't feel comfortable about the hedonistic and self-centered idea of birthday celebrations. But you might see the point in dedicating this day to others. This way you also won't spend your birthday alone and depressed.
Volunteer at your local animal shelter, spend the time with lonely people or people in need. If you don't feel like being personally involved, you may want to donate money to charity or give away the things you don't use or wear anymore.
Do a little research and see what your community would be most thankful for or what you find most meaningful to help others with.