// birthdays & anxiety

A Wildflowers Home // anxiety and birthdays

Let’s talk about birthdays, emotional rollercoasters, dreaded birthday songs and anxiety. 

I haven’t seen or read a lot about birthdays & mental health / anxiety. 

We all have birthdays, and people with anxiety are a growing number, sadly - especially since our school systems still aren’t changing, but that’s a subject for another day. 

People have a lot of different experiences with birthdays, for some it’s just a day.. for others, it’s a lot more than that!

If you’re a 4 on the enneagram I think birthdays are especially filled with expectations, hopes and a wish to feel special on your special day, which often leads to disappointment when those expectations and feelings aren’t met. Add anxiety to that.. and it gets messy, emotional and complicated.


So birthdays and anxiety..

Growing up I was always looking forward to my birthdays because it meant getting older and cooler, GIFTS and usually a fun party. That made the day feel special.

BUT I also dreaded it, especially the school part, because that meant a lot of unwanted attention and birthday songs.. oh, the evil birthday songs.
Having a birthday on a weekend was the ultimate dream.
Having a birthday on the day where the whole school had a gathering, was the ultimate nightmare.
I still don’t get why teachers feel the need to force kids to stand in front of the whole school just to sing a birthday song, when they say no. I’ve seen kids carried to the “stage” who refused. For some that can be quite an traumatic experience. If the kid say no, it means no. Not everyone loves attention.

Some of my most humiliating experiences and situations have happened on my birthday during the birthday songs. I know it’s meant for a celebration and people mean it well, but having anxiety and a big big issue with blushing when unwanted and/or sudden attention, it has turned into my worst minutes. 


I’ve experienced kids, “friends”, schoolmates, my whole class, even the whole school having a good laugh at my extremely red face during what feels like a forever long birthday song. Yes, my “friends”, even the girl sitting next to me would laugh straight to my face, while I was the most uncomfortable tomato. Those “friends” where invited over for a birthdayparty afterwards. And gave each other funny looks and tried to kill a chuckle when my mom asked me how my birthday was at school. I think the word I might be looking for is bullying. Please don’t be like that, when you see people blushing, getting anxious, weird or awkward, you don’t know what hell they might go through and how it will haunt them for years after.


Teachers, you often don’t know what kind of traumatic hell you often put kids with (social) anxiety through. Please be aware. Educate yourself!


There’s so many other ways one can be celebrated than having to be the center of attention for a whole song. Just typing this makes my my body react. So much anxiety is surrounded with those kind of situations. Maybe have a few suggestions and ask the birthday kid how they want to be celebrated, or if they want to be celebrated at all in school. Don’t assume that a lot of attention and eyes on the birthday kid is what every kid wants.

Some birthdays I’ve wanted so badly to be sick to avoid birthday songs (and unwanted attention) that I actually got sick, even though I can probably count on one hand the number of sickdays I’ve had. If I didn’t have such a bid consciousness I probably would’ve just skipped school on my birthdays. Not probably. Definitely.

Anxiety and fear is a powerful thing. 


Back to adulthood. I recently turned 24, I don’t go to school anymore so anxiety and birthdays look different for me now.. the day isn’t as dreaded as it was before. And most adult parties are usually at night when it’s darker, so that helps a little tool. I know, crazy, but that’s how someone with anxiety might think. Every little detail.

Anyways, I invited a few friends over, even though it was very chill, down-to-earth and it was with friends I’m very comfortable with and something I did look forward to, I still had little to no appetite + an anxiety-filled body and diarrhea (let’s be real) for two days including my birthday.

Enjoying a birthday cake or anything sweet is impossible for me on my birthday. I can’t get a bit down of something too sweet when on my birthday. For some people I might be other tastes, but sweet stuff is the worst when my anxiety is high.

So why invite people over if it brings me so much anxiety? Well, don’t I deserve to be celebrated and have a normal life? Yes. I also do want to share it with friends. Not always, but sometimes. It is worth it in the end. For me. So to have a nice evening, I sacrifice a few days prior and post my birthday where I’m an absolute mess or a zombie walking around. Not all birthdays are like this, but I try to build myself up and beat my anxiety. I refuse to let it control my life.
This is also true for most “bigger” social gatherings, depending on the people and social situation it gets more or less draining.


Last year I had all my 7 cousins over, even though they are family, I’ve known them my whole life, I’m older than most of them, I still couldn’t do anything the whole day before they arrived. My mom asked me to find some cheese or something in the fridge, for some reason I couldn’t handle that, so I broke down and ran to my room crying and trying to calm myself down before going downstairs again to continue the preparations, because well.. the guests arrived soon. It didn’t make sense at all, but anxiety doesn’t make sense.

It was a day I had looked forward to very much! The evening with my cousins is a night I won’t forget (in the best way possible), but the days and especially the hours leading up to the event was extremely draining, tough, messy and painful, but I’m so glad I didn’t let that stop me from having one of my absolute best days!

For me, I know that once people arrive and the party/events begin my nerves mostly calm down and I can have an amazing time. But.. my mind has been overworked and my body has been exposed for something very intense, so if I don’t make sense, forget a lot, seem a little shaky the first half hour, eat slowly or nothing at all or maybe zoom out on your story.. it’s because of what my anxiety just put me through, but I do still enjoy my time and your story! Please don’t take it personally, but maybe show a little mercy and don’t make me feel stupid for telling you the same thing for the 3rd time, hah.

I also use 1-3 days mentally drained after this day without any mental capacity to do anything except maybe watching netflix, do a brain-less actitivity, stare into the air and basically just be a zombie. So don’t expect to much from me the days after a big and/or social event.

Not all experience it like I do. Anxiety looks different for everyone, but this is one story. One person with anxiety. Maybe you can relate? Maybe you know someone with anxiety. I hope this can help you understand them a little bit more or at least give them some credit for what they go through, for something you or others take for granted.


I just thought it was important to address this and talk about birthdays with anxiety. 

anxiety is not glamorous. 
anxiety is not attention seeking. 
anxiety is tough
draining 
exhausting
frustrating 
unfair
scary
and stealing too many moments and memories that was suppose to be fun, nice and carefree.

Why am I sharing all this? Not to make you feel sorry for me or those with anxiety, that’s like the worst. Don’t feel sorry for us, but to openly share about my experience with birthdays while having (social) anxiety. I hope for those of you who can relate that this might be helpful or give some hope or comfort and I hope that for those of you who are happily unaware, that this might give you some insight on how to be there for and understanding your classmates, co-workers, friends or family with anxiety.

last thing I wanna say is,
be kind
you don’t know the size of the battle someone is going through.

Dear Anxiety // a letter

A Wildflowers Home // Journal // a letter to // Dear Anziety // mental health

a fighters battle with anxiety

july 2018

 

I struck anxiety in the face and taught myself to be fearless.

That self-taught skill was crucial when my walls were torn down,
 and the anxiety monster itself was loose.

I know better now how to handle her,
yet she still manages to shake me at times.

In social settings, I manage to hide her away,
but they don't know
how hard she beats me when we go home.

When I'm uncomfortable and *watched*,
she threatens to take over my body and paralyze my mind.

She's a constant voice in my mind,
 tearing me down at every chance she gets.
A real bully.
A real mean girl.

On my journey,
I've learned a lot of truths,
truths I can fight with
fight her with,
when she attacks,
attacks with her big ugly lies. 

I won't let her win.
I will fight her back.

I am a warrior.
I know because I've been at war with her since before I remember.

She doesn't play or fight fair,
but I won't fight dirty,
I fight with honour.

And I will keep fighting till she's defeated.
Just wait,
I know how this ends,
and it doesn't look pretty..
for her.
 

 

thursday's 7 // things we need to stop glorifying

A Wildflowers Home // Journal // Blog // thursday's 7 // 7 things we need to stop glorifying // thinned, weightless, youth, body positivity, depression, anxiety, success, hollywood, getting drunk @bodyposipanda

I'm starting a little series called Thursday's 7. Every Thursday I'll share 7 things. To educate, entertain, help, wonder and love. I hope you'll enjoy it. If you've got some suggestion you'd like me to write about, leave them in the comments. Some will be short others will be a little longer like this. It'll be interesting to cover lots of subjects. Can't wait to begin!

I'll start the series with a rather heavy topic; 7 things we need to stop glorifying. 

  • youth - in the media, commercials, hollywood.. they all flood with young young people. I'm pretty sure over half the lotions we can buy nowadays advertise with being anti-wrinkle or anti-age. Why are we so afraid of getting old? Why do we take it as an insult if people think we look older than we are? Why do we take it as a compliment when people think we look younger than we are? Looking young or youthful isn't the only kind of beauty and it doesn't equal health nor success. We aren't outdated until we start acting like we are and letting it limit us. 
     
  • thinness and weight loss. (if you've struggled with ED; triggers may come, so if you're vulnerable in that area, proceed with caution or skip this part) Those times when I've lost weight enough for people to notice (compliment) it's usually because I had a period where I almost didn't eat. I remember one time, I was 17 and just started 1st year of gymnasium (the Danish school system is different from the US/UK, but it's a combo of high school and college) and I was crushing on this boy who mostly liked thin/"hot" girls. I never thought I'd measure up to his standards (turns out I didn't in the end, anyway, but that's another story), but a mix of wanting him to be attracted to me, falling in "love" and society's (stupid) beauty standards I managed to convince my mind and stomach that I didn't need to eat. I think I eat only around 25%-50% of what I normally eat and what probably should be healthy. Not. Healthy. At. All. I'm not gonna talk about how much I lost, but it was enough for people to start noticing - and complimenting me. I'm pretty sure the complimenters did it with their best intentions, but if you look at how and why I lost the weight (and I wasn't overweight btw) it wasn't healthy! And changing yourself for someone to like you. Then is it really you that they'll like? it's crazy that we live in a society and culture where not eating is considered culturally acceptable and not only that it's actually a great accomplishment. Not. Healthy. At. All. I've heard people losing a lot of weight during their chemo-treatment and receive compliments. I know people who live healthy normal lives and workout, but because they aren't thing enough for societies beauty standards they're considered "unhealthy".
    We weren't put on this earth to be attractive to everyone. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure that's pretty impossible. 
    Wuah, can you tell I'm passionate about this? I've already deleted half of it and started a new blog post with my body image story. (That'll be up shortly!) 
    If you're struggling yourself can I recommend Megan Jaybe Crabbe? She made a video with Grace called "why is everyone so obsessed with being thin?" She's @bodyposipanda on instagram and has a blog. She also wrote a book. You can get on Amazon right here. (affiliate link). In my August favourites, I also talk a little about another brilliant bopo-babe Allison.
     
  • depression + anxiety - it may be mostly in the teenage-culture and on Tumblr, but this needs to stop. Depression and anxiety are two very serious mental illnesses. Depression has killed people and anxiety have made people miserable for decades. It's not something to be glorified!
     
  • making Hollywood the only types of success - being in Hollywood and on every front paper does not equal success and it does not mean you're happy. Earning big money or singing to huge crowds isn't the only types of success. Celebrities, musicians, actors etc. aren't "perfect" human beings, so let's stop worshipping them just because *everyone* knows their name. There's nothing wrong with being famous, but the society we live in worships them and put them on sky-high pedestals. Which isn't fair to anyone. No one can live up to those "perfect" standards. Success looks different to each person. We can define our own success. Doing what you love surrounded by who you love is a pretty good definition of success for me.
     
  • getting wasted aka drunk -  I had a friend of mine who didn't drink any alcohol at all. His classmates didn't get it, neither respected it, so they tried to trick him into drinking by "jumping" on him from behind and putting a beer bottle into his mouth. That's not okay. If someone said they didn't want cake we wouldn't try to stuff their mouths with cake, would we?  Why is it so "glamorous" to drink yourself so drunk you barely have control over what you do? I've never really enjoyed alcohol and I've never been drunk. I've been stared at like I was crazy or being labelled as boring because I simply said "no thanks" when offered a beer. At a social event at my new school, we weren't allowed alcohol, one of my classmates argued he was a shy guy and couldn't open up and be social before he'd at least had a few beers. Really? So you're relying on alcohol to be social? For many people, fun & alcohol go hand in hand. I know people who can't have fun without alcohol. What a sad sad life. I've never been drunk and I've had plenty of fun. The best parties I've attended or hosted have been alcohol-free. And are the ones remembered! Bonus: no hangover.
    If this somehow made a reaction in you - good or bad, you want to learn more about it or you want a perspective from someone who actually enjoys alcohol I highly recommend listening to Lucy Moon chat about alcohol, her relationship with it, being an alcoholic and going totally sober. I'll link 2 videos here and here.
     
  • being busy - don't we all know that one person, who's always too busy. Or don't have time to meet up until the month after the next month *heavy eye roll*. I think this has so much to do with prioritizing. I don't get why people are busy. I understand there are seasons (i.g. having a newborn or preparing, preparing for a big exam etc.) where the resources and energy may not be on top, that's not what or when I'm talking about. Filling a schedule so full you don't have time to think or feel, just makes me wonder what you're running from? I wanna share I quote with you; "I don't say no because I'm busy, I say no because I don't want to be busy" (source). This is a quote I wanna live by. I also think this quote from Alice in Wonderland is brilliant: "the hurrier I go, the behinder I get". (source)
     
  •  numbers - whatever is in our bank account, the number of facebook "friends", the number on the weight scale or followers on social media. Numbers don't define us. No matter big or small. Someone isn't cooler or better just because they have 100 more friends on facebook or 10k more followers on instagram. Let's preach this to ourselves and our (future, at least for me though) kids!

 

I'd love to spark some conversation in the comments. What are your thoughts on this? Are there other things we as a society need to stop glorifying? Do you disagree with something I wrote? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Be kind, though!


That's all. Until next time..

// Line Thybo xx