• Mike Douglas

How Is It A Birthday Again

Life can feel like a beautiful struggle sometimes. There’s beauty, there’s wonder, there’s promise. But there’s also pain, sadness, stresses and strains.


There’s moments of joy, but often the challenges that have been tackled to get there last(ed) longer.


Sometimes you need to take a break, a pause. A moment to reflect on the journey, on the path ahead, but also the one already trodden.


In those moments of reflection, I think we often would think about is this the right path, or should I take another. I take huge pleasure in knowing I’m happy on my current path; personally and professionally. My reflection is not on the path taken, rather how I take/ walk it. Am I wearing the right shoes? Did I drink enough water? Am I managing myself well and or appropriately.



I think this reflection comes up at a time when work is busy, though I’m staring to find it’s busy more often than not. But rather, it's a time of year I struggle with; my birthday.


I definitely think birthdays have become harder, but also maybe there’s a realisation they have been hard for a while, but I’ve ignored that.


Last year was a very difficult birthday with a lot of conflict and difficulty explaining where my mind can go. Birthdays are hard for me in the same way Christmas is; with expectations of happiness, family time and probably a few other things too.

Birthdays however now come with their own added challenges.



Having experienced dark depression, thoughts of self harm and suicide in the past. I have at times come to peace with living a limited or shortened life. I idea of making it to 35, 40 or older no longer seemed possible, probable or desirable. This change was so at odds with child me who longed to live to 101 years old.


Now each birthday is a reminder of the fact I’m still here, which is nice. But it’s also scary. I will soon, if not already, be living past an age I expected to be alive.


I’m sure that is a success, but it’s also a trigger or reminder to my damaged mind, of where I was, and that corner of my mind where those thoughts still reside.


Part of that journey and I think success was for me feeling well enough to gradually come off medication last year. At the end of June, start of July I took my last tablet of sertraline. The anniversary of that last tablet is also a reminder than I now actively try to manage and regulate myself. I’d like to think I do an ok to good job of this. But it is still something that I do have to monitor actively.


Tablets are something I never wanted to take at the beginning, but something that I needed too. Along with many other things, my medication helped save my life. If I found myself at a place where I needed them again, I would take them. They are in their own way part of that beautiful struggle. Taking them was an act of care and recognition for myself.



Today it’s using different tools to care for and support myself. Getting fresh air, having rest, listening to music, (sometimes) talking to people, taking photos, walking. These things all help support me in balancing my mind, my emotions and my energy.


Sometimes just taking that time to have 5, 10, 15 minutes away from a screen or from interactions can have a big impact on how I feel and how able I am to cope.


So today, I’ve taken 15… well 90 minutes to lay in bed. I watched a couple of rubbish YouTube videos, then just lay with my eyes closed (for most of the time) and finally now I have written this.


Writing continues to help me process thoughts and emotions, to express them in a way that also allows me to explore them in a safe and structured way.

Afterwards the pain and struggles are still there, but almost always they are lighter.





Personal mental health posts, such as this one, are written a few days to a week before they are posted. This way I know I'm ok, and the content is appropriate and something I am happy to share.

Thank you for reading, if you struggle with any symptoms or illnesses similar to those mentioned here, please consider accessing the below services/ support.


Samaritans

Calm

Local Minds