Birthday Blues

Is it okay to feel sad around the most special part of the year?

Birthday Blues

By: Emily Bailey 

Birth·day: the anniversary of the day on which a person was born, typically treated as an occasion for celebration and the giving of gifts.

Birthdays come around once a year, all year, every year. They’re three hundred and sixty five day in one year, and though millions around the world probably share the same special day as you, nothing can make it any less special. Right?

A symbol for our achievements and milestones; a day where we alone are showered with gifts, cake, and stupid yet thoughtful gestures from family, friends, and peers. How could one not love the days before and the day of your birthday. Understandably, it is a hard concept to think that a day to celebrate you is not something some look at with anticipation and excitement, but with anxiety and uneasiness. 

Vanessa van Edwards, a behavioral investigator, describes birthday depression as “a general sadness or feeling down by a person on or around their birthday.” There are many reasons why someone may feel stressed around this special time of the year. Aging, lack of accomplishments, social pressure, and so much more can contribute to making something special to stressing. 

Many LCPS students and especially staff members express that they had thought that this is something that only older people experience. Some think that aging is the only logical reason why someone may not find their birthday as thrilling as they do. 

But that is simply not the case.

Yes, getting older can be a terrifying realization for some. Though as someone who deals with anxiety first hand, who is an introvert, who finds events with tons of socializing to be stressful, aging is likely one of the last things on my mind. The social pressure that comes with a birthday is something that is inevitable to avoid for me and many others. Being around a few people in any given situation is how some feel more comfortable, and when birthdays add the pressure to do something more (especially for milestone birthdays, like your 16th, 18th, 21st, etc…) it can really ruin what makes birthdays so happy and carefree in the first place. Because some don’t see it as an opportunity but as an obligation to do something they may not be comfortable with.

Though worrying over loved one’s thoughts and opinions on not achieving anything over the year can also be a different kind of social pressure in and of itself. Worrying over lack of achievements, literally any time of the year, can also be annoying and upsetting. A loss of motivation is more common than you think, especially after the year we have had, and is something that can affect people’s desire to meet their goals.

De·pressed: (of a person) in a state of general unhappiness or despondency.

The American Psychiatric Association says that depression “negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.” Depression can lead to a lack of motivation and passion to do everyday things, let alone milestones that you set a year or two in advance. Being (clinically) depressed is a real problem that can really come to light in time of any holiday, exceptionally around a holiday that can single out someone by celebrating a day that is all about them. 

I’m not saying that everyone feels this way, or that anyone who has anxiety or depression will dislike their birthday. Knowing when or if a loved one or friend is feeling uncomfortable around this time of year is key. Getting them to talk about their worries and fears about feeling a certain way is a good way to show that their feelings are valid and that many other people of all ages feel the same way.    

Though if you or anyone else is expressing these feelings outside the timestamp of their birthday, I and many others ask that you talk to someone about them. Any form of anxiety or depression is a very real and scary problem in this day and age, so try your best to seek help by talking to a trusted adult or friend. Because birthday or not, no one wants a loved one to be going through this all alone.