I think you’d agree that turning 30 could be considered a milestone birthday, don’t you? I never did a darn thing for that birthday! Yep, you guessed it. I was not in a good place. Not. At. All.

My then-husband had nicely planned a birthday dinner celebration at a restaurant with three other sets of friends of ours. However, I had him cancel it and tell them all not to go to it. The year I turned 30 was probably one of my hardest years ever.

Let me back up a bit to put things in perspective.

My birthday is in November. I had returned to my job working as an Occupational Therapist (O.T.) half-time in June, and I had also just bought a new franchise baby business where I did castings of baby’s hands and feet. The purpose of buying that business was so that I wouldn’t have to work full-time as an O.T., and thus I could be home with my children more. At that time, my children were three years and one year old. Back then, I had no choice but to work, because my husband didn’t make enough money and we were still young and had a lot of expenses, the major one being our mortgage.

What you need to know is that I had not been feeling well at all even before I went back to work in June of that year. I remember feeling like I had a constant flu with nausea, migraines, and debilitating fatigue. Once I started back to work, my symptoms expanded to include numbness and tingling of my fingers, toes, the bottom part of my legs, as well as muscle twitches in my upper arms. I was also experiencing a rapid heart rate over 100 beats per minute with doing very little. It got so bad that I was so shaky that I had trouble eating soup with a spoon without spilling it on myself. Then one day, I was at work and half of my face went numb. I thought I was having a stroke so I drove myself to the hospital.

For a year, I didn’t know what was wrong with me. The doctors sent me for all kinds of tests. A MRI ruled out multiple sclerosis. A CT scan ruled out a brain tumor. An EKG ruled out heart issues. A neurologist followed up with me for a year, but only wanted to focus on my constant migraines. But the reasons for the numbness and tingling and other symptoms remained a mystery. Years later just before I got Covid (more on that in another post), I would be diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS) and POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome).

But, at that time, I was sinking more and more mentally. I had also learned that one of my university friends had died from complications of a condition she had, and my dad was having issues with his heart. Add to that. that my son (the one year old) was not adapting well to daycare. He was on a hunger strike when he went to public daycare and would throw his food at the daycare worker, and he is not a brat. He was just not happy about his new arrangements, despite me working part-time, and that was how he demonstrated what he thought! He had also always been a pretty good sleeper, but that all changed when I went back to work. It was so exhausting for all of us!

I also wasn’t enjoying my job at the time. I was working with some challenging situations. The day I embarrassingly burst into tears at work was when I knew that I had to address my depression. That was all around the time leading up to my 30th birthday celebration. Not long after that, I made an appointment with my primary care doctor, and was started on a low dose of citalopram. It took about three weeks for me to notice improvement, but it really did help. It made the lows feel not quite so low, and I felt emotionally stronger, which made it easier to deal with people and situations. My sadness never fully went away, because I would have preferred to have been a stay-at-home mom and it was only my husband and me who played tag team as we had no other family living nearby to ask for help.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I want to let you know that, when you suffer from sadness or some level of depression, birthdays aren’t always a happy time. It wasn’t so much that I was starting a new decade, but it was a reminder of how unwell I felt mentally and I just couldn’t bear to go out with friends and pretend that I was okay.

What about you? Have you ever cancelled your birthday too? Or can you relate to any of this at all? If so, let me know in the comments!

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