As most of you know, my birthday was this past Thursday, the 2nd of November. With that day passing, I am officially a quarter of a century old. I received a lot of love on that day, a lot of people wished me a happy birthday, some not believing how old I am. You aren’t alone in that disbelief. I, too, can hardly believe that I’m 25.
I’m not sure many people experience this to the extreme that I do. My teenage years shaped by mental illness had convinced me that I would not live that long. Every year that would pass, I would experience a sort of dissociation. How could I believe that I have survived another year? How did I make it to 18, 19, 20? And, here I am at 25 writing a blog post, sharing this experience. This is something I would never let anyone I knew in “real life” see. This is something that I learned quickly to feel uncomfortable with talking about.
As I typed that I was convinced that I would not live this long, I cringed. What a morbid saying to have, so dramatic, so harsh. It’s a saying that can scare people, make them feel uneasy, and have reactions that socialize us to not say it to them ever again. Their reactions made me feel scared and uneasy, teaching me to not be comfortable with talking about how I feel and the thoughts that I have. Teaching me to hide it and suffer in silence.
Some of you never got a chance to react due to how quickly I learned how not okay it was from the others. Some of you knew but didn’t know how to handle it. It isn’t anyone’s fault, it is just a lack of education. We’ve been taught to fear mental illness, suicidal thoughts, and death as a whole. This lack of understanding and knowledge creates a fear of the unknown, and socializes us to push it away. As someone who has a mental illness, I was taught that it wasn’t okay to talk about, that it makes others uncomfortable, and in my mind I had learned to try and spare people from dealing with it. Meanwhile I tried coping alone because I didn’t have a choice on whether or not I dealt with it.
Looking back, I could have used therapy roughly 10 years ago. It wasn’t considered until 8 years ago, but by then I was so uncomfortable with talking about it, it wasn’t going to help me. It wasn’t until I was 23 that I started seeking it out in a serious way. That was only 2 years ago. I still experience a bit of disbelief, as I’ve stated above. However, the reason for the disbelief now lies a few degrees of separation away. It isn’t a disbelief that I’ve survived during year 24. It’s still a lingering disbelief that I survived my teenage years, and early 20s.
I’m not saying I don’t have a mental illness anymore, nor that I never have a suicidal thought. Except that now, I do talk about it. I have a team of therapists. I have learned a ton of skills to handle it in my daily life. I’m still learning, still dealing with it, and I’m not alone in that fight.
With year 24 under my belt, gaining the therapist that I have now, far more skills, and a more stable life, I look forward to the progress that time allows. I look forward to the progress that I will make during year 25.
Thank you all for being a part of my 25-year life. I am excited to document this coming year on here, and see how much more I grow. Thank you all for the birthday wishes, I am in awe at how many I get each year. Thank you all for your continual support in my blog, and taking the time out of your day to read it. This blog has helped me to talk about mental illness (among a myriad of other things), and I’m incredibly blessed to be heard.
I am going to take some time today to go through and respond to each and every birthday wish I got. This is time well-spent because it will help me to embrace this birthday as less of a “How did I get here” and more of a “I made it”. I cannot wait to relish in the love!
Here’s to another great trip around the sun!