So today is my birthday. Now I mean this when I say I really don’t take much stock in birthdays. Basically like any other day, if you ask me. Especially since this isn’t one of the “biggies”. Still, one can’t help but do a little reflection on days like this: birthdays, anniversaries, and certain holidays like New Year’s Day. Because it reflects the passage of a year, we habitually ponder the previous year, reviewing what we’ve done, what we’ve forgotten to do, or what we’ve yet to do.
Here’s a secret though. I have that stupid dialogue running in my head pretty much 24/7. I can’t help but constantly re-litigate the past. It’s just how my brain works, and it’s how I got into this mess in the first place. My brain doesn’t give credit to the potential; rather it deducts past failures from the final tally, the score of my life.
I said in my last post, that I’d reached a corner, and was finally able to see the value of hope, to value the potential of the future, and give credit for what I’ve done. Not coincidentally it was another milestone post (New Year’s), and I had time then to reflect. But, as time is for us a constant, things change now and then. Back then I was hopeful; today, eh...not as much.
That’s the ebb and flow of depression. I said long ago on this blog I’d try to describe the ins and outs of mental illness. My mental illness. And with that must go the good days and the bad. Today is more bad than good, and not just because it’s a birthday, but because it’s a day that ends in the letter “y”. Today my brain has decided to focus on the negative.
Look at the last sentence in my first paragraph: “Reviewing what we’ve done, what we’ve forgotten to do, or what we’ve yet to do.” I deliberately left that fairly neutral. It could have been even more positive: “Reviewing what we’ve done, what we might do tomorrow, and what we’re hopeful for”. Or I could have been much more negative: “Reviewing what we’ve done, what we’ve failed to do, what we’ll never get a chance to fix, what we totally screwed up.”
Guess where my mind wanted to go, today? But that in and of itself is progress. My ability to know there is an alternative to the negative is a huge step forward. My ability to even come up with the sentence I settled on is a positive. Even if some days I lean to the negative, I know there is still a positive; I’m just not feeling it today, and that’s ok.
I’m overwhelmed with the many wishes on social media that I get for a happy birthday. Today I feel a little guilty for being so down when everyone is well-wishing. But again, I’m positive in the sense that recognizing this for what it is, just a tweak of depression, is progress and power. I’ll have better days. I’ll have more bad days. God willing, I’ll have many more birthdays too.
Happy Birthday to me.