Today’s my birthday. I’m thirty-six years old, as of 4:32-ish this morning.
Thirty-six sounds weird to me.
It doesn’t sound bad or scary or anything. Just…weird. It might take some getting used to the sound of it, the feel of the words.
The only “milestone” birthday that has bothered me so far was when I turned twenty-five. You’d think that on the spectrum of possible age freakouts that twenty-five would be way closer to the “foot-loose and fancy-free” end than the “oh god, I’ve wasted my life” end of things, but apparently not in my case. I actually straight-up lost my shit shortly after turning twenty-five. I had a series of panic attacks that got increasingly worse until finally, one night in early February I called my parents around midnight and asked my dad to take me to the emergency room because I was quite sure I was having a heart attack. The ER doc didn’t do a whole lot to comfort me, other than to say that even a severely obese twenty-five year old like me probably wouldn’t be having an actual heart attack unless she’d been doing cocaine or something. That was followed by a very pointed look full of unspoken questions to which I replied, “if I was doing coke, don’t you think I’d be skinnier?”
Anyway – point being, twenty-five pretty much felt like rock bottom to me. While everyone else around me was partying and living it up, having adventures, making new friends, traveling the world, I was spending most nights and weekends (and no small number of days) hiding under the duvet, literally afraid that I’d drop dead at any moment. I got some help in the form of antidepressants and a wonderful dog that friends helped me adopt, and I started to slowly claw my way out of a very deep, very dark hole.
I talk about this today so that I can look around myself and more fully appreciate just how much has changed for the better in my life in the last eleven years. I’m not cured of depression, anxiety or any of the other brain fuckery that started rearing its ugly head when I turned twenty-five. I never will be, and I’m at varying levels of peace with that – but the older I get, the better I become at accepting that this is who I am and that there’s no shame in it. I’ve learned that I don’t have to pretend to be OK just to keep those around me comfortable, and that’s a valuable lesson indeed.