Dear Therapist: Birthday Blues

Birthday Blues

Dear Therapist:

My Birthday is coming up and perhaps its the pandemic or other issues going on in society, but I don’t feel in the mood to celebrate — at all. I think I may have the Birthday blues. Any thoughts on how to get into the mood to celebrate and look forward to my new year?

Sincerely, Singing the Birthday Blues

Although it may feel strange to have a Birthday coming up and not be that excited for your day, it is more common than you may think — even without the pandemic and societal unrest. A Birthday comes around and it is supposed to be a time to celebrate big and be happy and often it can feel like a moment to look back and be disappointed in the past year or worry about the upcoming year. Finally, it can just be a reminder that you are another year older without much having changed in life.

Now, add in the pandemic and the social unrest and I certainly can see why you may be singing the Birthday Blues this year. And if that is how you feel, letting that be OK is key. Think of it as a gift you can give yourself this year. If you are not in the mood to celebrate your big day, that is fine. Let it be fine.

At the same time, others may still want to celebrate you. Feel free to let them know you aren’t feeling it too much this year, but allow people to celebrate you if they want to. Who knows? Although you may not feel in the mood to celebrate, someone bringing a cake and candles over may lighten your mood and cause a shift in your mood. Being open to this shift can be difficult when we are not in a celebratory mood, but holding space for a little something positive can prove beneficial as well.

The truth is Birthday Blues are real. Society and friends and family often ask us to push these feelings away as we are “supposed” to be happy on our Birthday, but letting it be OK to not be in a great mood, accepting it, remaining open to some surprises that may still arise, and moving on from your day without anticipation of the next one being bad are all ways to manage feeling a little depressed on your Birthday.

Although I hear you are not in the mood to celebrate, Happy Birthday to you!

Creativity Burst: Balloon Parade

Balloon Parade

Ever think of hosting a Balloon Parade?

Today is my Birthday, and I have always dreamed of a Balloon Parade. What does this idea entail? To be completely honest, I am not sure as I have never hosted one before, even as I’ve always yearned for one. As a former kids’ party planner, my mind turns toward inviting friends over and blowing up balloons — or, more likely, having balloons already blown up that each person can grab…and GO!

Go where? Off to a Balloon Parade of our own making. Basically line everyone up and march around my neighborhood or my city with balloons in hand together. Ah, how fun! Although I have a fantasy around my Balloon Parade, I have never made it happen as I don’t want to plan something like this for myself. I resist!

So, I yearn for this celebration and yet I don’t make it happen for myself — and who has time to plan a Balloon Parade? By this time in my life, I think I am more excited by the idea and the dream of it than actually doing it. Have you ever wanted something for so long that your mind builds it up in a way that reality can never meet your expectations?

In that case, I would say just do it — to myself and to anyone else who has a “Balloon Parade” of their own in their mind. Reality is actually always better than fantasy. I doubt I will get around to it this year — I think this is another year where my mind will float over the idea, but, with any luck, I will be here for the next Birthday and perhaps that year I will have the courage to host a Balloon Parade of my own.

To all the Balloon Parades in our minds — Cheers!

Celebrations At Home

Celebrations at Home
Celebrating at Home?

As life continues at home for most of us, life and all of its celebrations have not stopped. Birthdays and anniversaries are always in full swing throughout the year — these special personal days come along no matter what is going on in the world. Given the pandemic times we are in, many people are not going to have the celebration they were expecting this year.

As I am a planner, I always have something good planned for my friends, family and myself as their and my special days rolls around. Oh my goodness, all of those plans have been taken off the table in no uncertain terms. As I realized this as the weeks marched toward these special dates, I had to take some time to feel this disappointment of not being able to enjoy the plans that I had carefully made to delight my loved ones. Instead of brushing it off, I faced my sadness over the loss of my special plans for this year. Being able to sit with my sad feelings for some time allowed me to take the next step.

To make the most of what I could do to celebrate. For Birthdays, I could send cards or flowers, I could call, I could order a Birthday cake, hey how about take-out since it’s so special these days to not cook, find a movie and watch it together, take a walk with the loved one I live with, and, most importantly, be present to the person.

Everything wasn’t exactly how I thought it would go, but letting go of my expectations allowed me to be in the moment and see what unfolded that was new and different. Although these were not the celebrations I had planned, being present to the celebrations that unfolded was not only interesting, but fun.

If you are going to be having some celebrations at home soon, here are my top tips:

  1. Give yourself time to process, grieve, and let go of what you may have planned and were looking forward to.
  2. Make the most of what you can do — baking a homemade cake, buying a card at the grocery store, setting up a Zoom party, taking a walk, ordering takeout, and anything else that you may have around your home to celebrate – i.e. bang pots and pans.
  3. Be open to what unfolds without expectations — the unexpected phone call or card in the mail perhaps.
  4. Relax.
  5. Be in the moment. This is most certainly a unique one.

Whatever you do, indeed mark the celebrations at home. It is important to make a big deal of our loved ones and special events. Even though we are all at home, this is not a year to “pass,” but rather to have a celebration that you will remember when you think back to these pandemic times.