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Birthday Blues: How to Handle Birthday Depression

It's Your Birthday and You Want to Cry

Everyone knows what birthdays are supposed to look like, right?

Picture this: Having a good time with a bunch of friends or a romantic dinner with someone special. Feeling secure and happy that your life is on track and you're right where you're supposed to be. Relishing in how young, vibrant, and beautiful you feel!

If that's how it's supposed to look like, why is it that, on birthdays, I find myself laying in bed all day with the covers over my head and my phone turned off? Or spending the day crying into my pillow? Or drowning my blues in multiple bowls of ice cream?

Sound familiar to you?

You many not even understand why birthdays seem to make you want to curl up in a ball and toss obscenities at the world.

There's one big, nasty word that has everything to do with why birthdays end up being exactly the opposite of what we think they should be: expectations.

Sometimes, or most of the time, our expectations aren't met. This can lead to feelings of disappointment, depression, and sadness. Read on in this article to learn more about that and ways to tackle this so that you can have an enjoyable birthday this year!

Birthday blues
Birthday blues | Source

Expectations

There are two kinds of expectations that can cause even the best of us to hole up in our barricaded bedroom eating birthday cake in the dark (come on, don't tell me I'm the only one).

Expectations of:

  1. Where and what our life should be.
  2. What the birthday celebrations themselves should be.

Expectations vs. Reality on Your Birthday

Where we're actually at in life may not be exactly where we expected to be at during this age.
Where we're actually at in life may not be exactly where we expected to be at during this age.

All too often, birthdays become a reminder of all the things we haven't accomplished, of all the ways we are behind our peers, or all the things we are lacking. They represent a marker for all the expectations we have.

When my best friend turned 30, she was devastated. She cried for days. She had always thought that when she turned 30, she would be married with kids, living in her own home, complete with a garden and chickens in the back. Instead, when 30 rolled around, she was single with no current prospects and renting a room in a house with two other girls. She mourned that picture-perfect life that she didn't have.

I've been deluding myself into thinking that for the past decade that I'm still 21. I feel young and in my mind, 30-somethings are so old! (Apologies to those of you who are older than your 30s. You are not old.) So when those birthdays roll around reminding me that I am a 30-something, I feel the loss of all that time with little to show for it. Where did a decade go?

Of course, with age, it seems that there should be a change. I should finally be confident and disciplined, I tell myself. Instead, the illusion of continuity makes it seem as though I am the same person that I was back when I was 21. The growth is so gradual that sometimes it's easy to feel as if it has never happened. That's not true, of course, a lot of growth has happened. You just can't expect that what social media, society and the media, and your expectations dictate what your life should be like to be your actual life. Remember, always live in the present and know that everyone will ruminate over the fact that their expectations haven't been met. Focus on the positives, on all the things that you have accomplished, and on all the things that do make you happy.

Read on for more tips to help with your expectations on or around your birthday, or just in general.

More Ways That Expectations Can Ruin a Birthday

It's my birthday and I'll cry if I want to...
It's my birthday and I'll cry if I want to... | Source

My family has always celebrated "birthday week." Not a day, and not just a birthday dinner — a week! When it's your birthday week, no one better be asking you to do the dishes. Dinner is always your choice. You get taken out to eat for your birthday at least one day, and you get your favorite meal homemade another day. You get the restaurant birthday cake and the homemade birthday cake. You get a party with friends, a party with family, and if you have a significant other, you get a romantic birthday celebration as well. Presents trickle in throughout the week, and there are always plenty of other surprises.

As I got older, birthday week started to fizzle out and turned into just one day. However, the expectation that birthdays should be a week of wonderfulness was still there. So after having to do the dishes on my birthday (can you imagine?!) and then just dinner and a present of a gift certificate, I felt neglected and unloved.

As a child, it's so easy to feel that birthdays and holidays are magical, but carrying those expectations into adulthood often leads to post-celebration blues. We focus so much on what things should be that we can't enjoy what is. Birthday dinner is great, but using birthday week or any expectation as a comparison to birthday dinner ruins what could have been a great time.

How to Tackle Birthday Depression

Treat yourself on your birthday!
Treat yourself on your birthday!

So what's one in birthday depression recovery to do? Here are some ways to tackle or prevent birthday depression:

1. Lower Your Expectations.

Easier said than done, but try to lower your expectations. Don't expect anyone to do anything, or expect that your birthday party will a flop. This way, anything good that happens will be an unexpected and pleasant surprise!

2. Keep Busy.

Don't wait around for someone else to do something for your birthday. Sitting around the house just gives you an opportunity to mull over the passage of time and be sad. You know what you'd like to do on your birthday, so schedule it. Get a birthday massage. Go on a birthday shopping spree. Go to the movies and watch whatever you want.

3. Remember All That You Have Accomplished.

It's easy to gloss over everything that you have accomplished and end up feeling like time has passed with nothing to show for it. Try to focus on the positives because, remember, you are a rock star! So prove it to yourself. Go through old pictures of good times (warning: some people may become more depressed doing this, you know who you are), make a list of accomplishments, or even get a friend to remind you of your victories.

I have a friend who lists all her major "wins" from the previous year on her birthday. Sometimes they are things that are only meaningful to her — like getting into the habit of flossing. Other times, they are big life events — like running a marathon.

Spending time thinking about what you have done will keep you from thinking about all the things you haven't yet accomplished or that you think you should have accomplished. You've already accomplished a lot. Focus on that. Be proud.

4. Don't Wait for Someone Else to Make You Happy.

Every year, for as long as I can remember, my mom has bought herself flowers for her birthday. She was always disappointed when my dad didn't. So one year she bought flowers for herself, and she's been doing it ever since. She stopped waiting for someone else to make her happy. (They're happily married, by the way.)

Remember, no one can read your mind and no one is perfect. If you're waiting for someone else to make things special, you'll be disappointed. If there's something that will make you happy, then make it happen.

5. Make a Plan to Make This Year Special.

One of my coworkers told me that on her 50th birthday, she was afraid she would be depressed. So, she decided to make it an "adventure year." That year, she made it a goal to write 50 letters letting people know how much she loved them, to try 50 new restaurants, to vacation just 50 miles from her home, and to complete 50 random acts of kindness. Try something like this for yourself!

6. Let Your Friends Know.

While there are many who don't want any attention on their birthday, there are others who make it a point to mention it or who would like to be lavished with attention. If you're one of those people, don't be ashamed in making it a point to mention your birthday to your friends and family.

You can be coy about it, too: "So I think I might schedule a massage for my birthday next week." That's all it takes. I've even seen my more blunt friends post on Facebook that they'll be having a birthday next week, as well. Go for it!

7. Know It's Okay to Mourn.

Sometimes, we just need some time to be sad about what isn't and what might not be. That's okay. You deserve that process and will feel better afterwards. Let yourself cry about the house that you don't own, the corporate position you haven't landed yet, and the significant other you may not have found yet. Then, get over it. You've got life ahead of you to live, don't waste more time than you need to in worrying about what isn't.

8. Learn From It.

You may want to punch me in the face for saying so, but know that pain is there to teach you something. Maybe your birthday makes you feel lonely — that's true for many of us. However, you can also use that feeling to help motivate you to make an effort to get out more and meet people.

Perhaps you feel sad that you haven't accomplished as much as you feel you should. This might be a sign you need to be easier on yourself or give yourself more credit than you do.

Ask yourself, "How can I be better because of this moment?" instead of letting yourself sink into a dark hole of inactivity and depression. Also, find ways to be more compassionate and loving to yourself. Self-care is crucial, and you deserve it — especially on your birthday.

Final Words

Remember, it's normal to feel sad on your birthday. This isn't a sign that you're a failure or unloved. Think of someone you love and admire — it's likely they've felt some birthday depression at one time or another as well.

If you could tell them something when they are down, what would you say? Now say that to yourself.

Happy birthday! You're a rock star!

The ROCK STAR birthday girl!
The ROCK STAR birthday girl!

Do you get depressed on your birthday?

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Video: Happy Birthday, No Such Thing (from Seinfeld)

Comments 124 comments

3 years ago

Thanks for the smart and uplifting thoughts :).


JenBarn profile image

JenBarn 3 years ago Author

Thank you for the compliment!


Robert 3 years ago

I needed to read this, as today is my birthday and I felt down all day. Thank you for sharing!


JenBarn profile image

JenBarn 3 years ago Author

I'm glad it helped. You are very welcome!


Jonesie 3 years ago

Today is my birthday, and although this didn't make me feel any better about being a year older and not having anything to show for it....... but at least I'm not alone.........


JenBarn profile image

JenBarn 3 years ago Author

You're definitely in good company, Jonesie!


Singe In Atlanta 3 years ago

That time of year again (birthday tomorrow) where I start to google,"Why Do I Get Sad On My Birthday".....lol. Great post. Really made me feel not alone and willing to change my attitude toward my birthdays. =)


Aminah 3 years ago

This helped me feel a lot better about feeling depressed on my b'day. Mine is tomorrow, and I feel like crap about my life, I feel like things should be more together than they are. I'm turning 22, (On Oct 22, go figure), and I feel like I should be enjoying these years of my life. But then again, I've been feeling this way consistently since 18. Good to know I'm not alone.


Dianne 3 years ago

Special and thought provoking post.. Loved the part about your mum x


Matt 3 years ago

Doesn't work. When you think that it is nothing you can accomplish or it nothing that you've done til now to make you live the years....why bother..you get married, have a kid...so what...you'll only worry, nothing interesting happens...by the way I'm only 27 and I feel that it just doesn't matter to me anymore


Ben 2 years ago

It's my 18th birthday tomorrow. Just the thought that there's an article about birthday depression makes me feel better. Thanks!


Annie 2 years ago

I thought it was just me! Glad to know I'm not alone!


Nina 2 years ago

Thank you! I feel better after reading this!


2 years ago

Great read!

Thanks for sharing.


Nicki 2 years ago

Beautiful and motivating blog. Great way to empower people to create their own kind of happiness. Thank you. :).


Wes 2 years ago

Thank you for this. My birthday is today, and I really needed something to make sense of how I'm feeling. Birthdays were never terribly special growing up; I share a birthday with my dad, and he often had to work late hours on our birthday. My wife has been bending over backwards trying to make today a good day, and I've been feeling bad that I'm not enjoying it more. I hope this was the kick in the pants I needed to get over it, actually work toward achieving my goals, and try to be happy today. Again, thank you.


Julia 2 years ago

Thank you for sharing! Today is my birthday and I'm glad to know that I'm not alone. The age indeed functions as a reminder for all the things we haven't accomplished in life according to our own expectations.


shafiq 2 years ago

Its my birthday today...44.

Always felt depressed..alone..not enough money..make myself blue and don't do wonders to wife or kids...appreciate the advice...and the vote bit..wow 70 per cent down. Im a 70s child and yes life catches up very quick...like to say don't be depressed but im one of the guys who are well behind my peers..council place..no perm work..money short. This is a good piece and helped me a lot....hats off.

To others whose bday today or gone or coming.

Love yourself cos only you can like you should and if not a happy birthday then at least have a chilled out relaxing bday.


Brandy 2 years ago

It is my birthday today. Ive been feeling like crying all day. Birthdays were so big when i was younger. I live with my dad and he didn't tell me happy birthday, he posted it on my fb wall. Nobody else in the house even remembered. I made sure i did everything in my power to make sure they all had a awesome bday. I just feel so let down. :(


estelle 2 years ago

31 today, put on a happy face, but cried into my duvet at home! Humans! What am I doing? Tomorrow, I will have a better day! Thank you for the article :)


Kayeflo 2 years ago

Absolutely love this! Its not always about the cake and the party (although they're nice)...but appreciating the accomplishments thus far, taking stock and working towards a brighter future. Thanks for sharing :-)


Laura 2 years ago

Thanks for this article : ) Turned 22 today and it seems to have been the worst so far..and I don't even exactly know why? Trying to pretend to be happy when people wish you happy birthday but you're just dying inside.. But it is reassuring to hear that I'm not the only one feeling the blues and I am hoping to have a better day tomorrow and think about the achievements that I often undermine :)


NS 2 years ago

Thanks for this. I didn't understand why I was feeling so sad this year (26) - and did my best to combat it yesterday (my actual birthday). I was happy and had a great day at work. I started to feel it when I didn't go home right away, but ate a snack and went on a power walk after work and went to bed happy (or, rather, fell asleep before ten accidentally happy.) Then I woke up this morning in tears and feeling more depressed than I have in a long time.

At first I thought it was because I hadn't heard from two old good friends (birthdays are usually the one time of year we get to talk to each other, aside from text and messenger), and that may have been part of it. However, after reading this, I think it's because I woke up this morning realizing that I'm 26, haven't had a date in two years, am nowhere close to having a family, have no friends living within two states of me, and only have yet another temporary job (after originally being told that this one would be full time/permanent.) I am so glad that I realized that this is my problem so I can move on and make today a good day, too.

"It's been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will." Anne Shirley ('Anne of Green Gables')


micah 2 years ago

Thank you, your article made me feel better. Happy birthday to me....


Lily 2 years ago

Thanks for writing this. When my parents stopped organizing my birthdays, I immediately organized the party's twice the size, including weeks full of work and crafting the decorations.

But now the family didn't feel 'forced' to come over anymore, I hardly get 5 people on my birthday. And friends usually feel pressured when I gently ask for a gift (I just NEED a gift on my birthday, even if it's a spoon) but sadly people DID started bringing things like a piece of gum/old bottles with some lemonade left, to the party. Some things were broken or had the pricetag of 10 cents still on them. Nothing was wrapped and people immediately started drinking all my alcohol, that I bought for the party, instead of congratulating me. I felt so hurt, I was standing there in my prettiest dress, while no one cared. Someone even congratulated my boyfriend and gave him a very expensive gift, because they understood it was HIS birthday (he invited them on mine)

They did understand that was a bit mean though, so they gave me a present, the next day. With the price tag on it. 2 dollars. And it was broken. *sigh*


Elle 2 years ago

Thanks for this article, it definitely helped out. It also helped to read other people's comments, as my birthday is tomorrow and I've been feeling quite down about it as well. My story has an uncanny similarity with the comment by NS? I'm also turning 26 tomorrow, all my friends are far, and I move so much I have no chance of meeting anyone who I could potentially date. I guess when I think about it that way, my life is pretty lonely. But when I think about all the people I do know who are younger than me and have kids and are married, and are constantly telling me they envy my freedom... I have it pretty good, I guess it's good to know that I don't have to clean after kids, or do anything like that. I'm also not in constant expectation for some guy to do something for me, I can do it for myself. Maybe freedom is the best birthday gift after all.


Miseryguts 2 years ago

Expectations - so right. It's why I dislike Christmas, New Year, and birthdays. The sheer excitement of birthdays and Christmas as a kid because my mum made it so. But now, grown up, aged 38 tomorrow, you can't expect your mum to carry on doing that. It would be pathetic. But also my birthday coincides with Father's Day, and my father has caused me much pain. So that's a lot to swallow. But thank you so much for your article! We all just need to live in the moment and stop listening to what people say we should have - friends, family or the media telling us we should have kids, be married, own a home. Live moves in unexpected ways and we should take each experience as it comes, and, as you say, ask what it can teach us. Happy birthday everyone, or not, it doesn't matter! x


Francois 2 years ago

I'm turning 24 today. Unfortunately, I have nothing much to show for my time on this earth. I just got my letters of rejection, as I like to call them, from UCLA and U of Texas law schools, I have no full-time job, and my own family seems to resent my existence. This year is the first year I have ever felt so depressed and dejected, and I am unsure of how to progress from this stage in my life.


Clyde 2 years ago

Feels good knowing so many other people are like me depressed on their birthdays! Misery loves company, and when misery has company, its not so bad being miserable...


2 years ago

Great article that perfectly sums up what so many of us go through. I have always had the hardest time enjoying my birthday and I went over 5 years without ever even telling anyone when my birthday was just so I didn't have to bear hearing anyone remind me. It's very easy to feel abnormal for feeling this way (considering 98% of people blow their birthdays WAY out of proportion), but alas, we are not alone.


typhiesmom 2 years ago

I get severely depressed every year on my birthday. I don't ever remember it being happy. It is so painful that I ask people that are aware of when my birthday is to please ignore it and not bring it up or acknowledge it but they try anyway. They just don't get it. Today is my 43rd. This last year especially has been a lot of loss for my family. My husband lost his job in 2012, we then lost our home, our average middle class lifestyle and the pressure on our marriage was too much and my husband abandoned my children and I so tomorrow marks a month ago I filed for divorce finally. Really this gets so bad every year I'm thankful that I'm another year closer to death.


Rebeca 2 years ago

Finally realized why I feel really sad on my birthday. The expectations from when you were little make you feel pressured into thinking it has to be that way or else it isn't a good birthday. Just turned 18 yesterday and I feel pretty meh, not really happy. But oh well, you move on.


divyanshu chauhan 2 years ago

thank you for this....i needed this


luvylicious 2 years ago

Thank you. I needed this. I would have my 20th birthday tomorrow and I feel like nobody cares. Not even my friends who I planned out how to make them feel happy and extra special on their special day. I feel like I'm not as important as them as they are for me. I think I actually wouldn't feel this bad if they are not so excited about going to the birthday party of our other classmate (which is today) and celebrated it with her happily. That is the reason why I feel so left out.


taniayvonne 2 years ago

My birthday was 9/11....that in itself has been tough...but it's getting better..my husband didn't really acknowledge my birthday and that hurt I'm 44 years old I should get it but I don't I feel so disappointed. ...i am going to buy myself a cake and plan my own party with my girlfriend s I can't walk into this year and not feel celebrated...i love love love birthdays and to not even be acknowledge d really hurts


Shon9tilr 2 years ago

Today is my 27th depressing birthday. Reading this article helped, but tomorrow I will return back to miserable self. But it feels good knowing that I'm not alone.


Shon9tilr 2 years ago

Today is my 27th depressing birthday. Reading this article helped, but tomorrow I will return back to my* miserable self. But it feels good knowing that I'm not alone.


cat 2 years ago

its my birthday today and i just want it to be over im 24 and im so embarrassed to say it my life is nowhere close to where i wish to be i should have a career i should be working at a hospital i should have my dream car and living alone instead im stuck at home with two kids no career looking at my friends living the life i wanned birthdays just remind me im worthless:'(:'(


yes 2 years ago

Great post. Turned 23 today and this is the first time I actually cried. The feeling of not having achieved anything so far, is the strongest this year. But also wasting this day and not doing anything is making me sad. So I feel like I should do something. I'm just so sad.


Kay 2 years ago

You made me laugh and get over the fact that it's normal to think that my birthday should be magical and I shouldn't have had to wash dishes this morning.


aziza 2 years ago

It's my 29th birthday today and like every year im devastated. This article helped me a lot. Thanks.


Anne 24 months ago

Thanks. My birthday is tomorrow and every year I feel like this. All I really want is someone to make a fuss. Maybe for my husband to book a restaurant or organise some friends to come over. Maybe the kids could make me a nice card or picture. But it is the middle of the silly season and people have other things on their minds. Tomorrow I will be 35 and this year I have lowered my expectations. Every year for the past 6 years I have asked to go to a specific restaurant for my birthday and every year no one has made a reservation. This year I do not expect it to be any different. Having read your article I need to change my mindset. Next year I will make the reservation (although I think the reason I have not done this in the past is I wanted someone else to validate that I am worthy of going there). And tomorrow I think I will ask if there are any plans and if not I will make sure I do something I want to do! You have also made me ponder if I am making my kids parties too much fun... Am I setting them up for disappointment in adulthood?


Kim 23 months ago

Thanks so much for writing this! As most of the posters, I found this article because yesterday was my birthday and I've just be SO SAD and not sure why. This was insightful and, although I'm still a tad moody, I feel much better knowing that I'm not alone and this birthday depression is "normal" and maybe not just me being crazy.


Jenny 22 months ago

Thank you for this... my birthday is tomorrow and I already feel like crying myself to sleep. Keep telling myself that expectations = disappointments, but I'm still hoping for a special birthday, maybe a surprise that I'd actually like.. agggg expectation!!


Alan 22 months ago

Many birthdays have come and gone where I have been miserable, this article shined some light on why I maybe so down on a day that should be special to me. I hope I can put your words into action and start to take some happiness out of today


Victoria 22 months ago

My husband don't even say Happy Birthday or does not do anything,,,,,


Rena 22 months ago

Of course the majority would indicate we're always depressed on our birthdays - that's why I googled Birthday Blues!

Your post is insightful and rings true.

Here I am, hours from my milestone birthday and sulky.

Just want to barricade myself in a room and get this day done over with!


fefe 22 months ago

Oh this article makes me feel so much better, I just turned 22 ...15/2


Megan 21 months ago

I'm turning 18 tomorrow & for the past 3-4 years I've had birthday depression.... This article showed me that it only gets worse as you get older.


Ralph 21 months ago

Hi my birthday is coming up in a few days and I just feel no good I put on a smile and pretend but deep down I havernt had a birthday present or a decent birthday in 20 years now and thanks for the advice on the blog it has helped a lot but if I'm really truthful to my self I just wish I could have one decent birthday not overpriced gifts or any thing like that just a good day would be enough just one birthday when I could actually wake up and smile............


Diane 20 months ago

My 35th birthday is in 3 days and as I sit here typing this, I'm wiping tears away. It has nothing to do with being "old" or getting "older" I don't dwell on the number 35. I just feel so down for some reason. My husband can't understand why I don't want to have a party or a dinner with friends. I just want the day to come and go. I was this exact same way when I turned 30. All I wanted to do then was hide under the covers all day and be by myself. The day after my birthday it's like a cloud left and I was back to my normal self.

Well now I'm straight out ugly crying- I think over the past week I have been balling my emotions up inside and have seemed 'off' or distant by those around me. It doesn't help having a husband who keeps bugging me to know what I want to do for my birthday or where I want to go eat and who we should invite. I don't want to do anything.


Freshman 19 months ago

bleh


Ayy_yo 19 months ago

I'm turning 19 in a few hours.

My 18th, I spent it alone, on a flight from home back to boarding school.

I've always felt depressed on birthdays, and only this year have I bothered to look into it. This was the first Google recommendation.

I needed to read this, for now I know that I'm not alone. I'm not sure if I'm more equipped to deal with this depression after reading your article, but I certainly feel less crappy. I guess that's a win, I'll take it.

Thank you.


Mami 18 months ago

Thank you!

You are an angel for this post. Every year I experience Birthday Blues, Ill be 31 on Friday and this was so uplifting and it gently reminded me I'm on the right track. For the first time in 7 years I will be celebrating my birthday with family and friends. I'm super excited, while still managing to keep my expectations low, excited none the less for a positive experience and an even more positive year!


Jennifer 18 months ago

Yes I googled this topic and got your post. Today is my birthday 38 already boo, but I am glad I'm not alone in my sadness. Your uplifting messages helped a lot.


Redwan 18 months ago

My birthday is in 4days time and I thought I was being selfish and only thinking of myself whenever I realize I will be sad on my birthday. Thank you for the article!


Justyna 18 months ago

It's my birthday and I'm sad...again. I keep telling myself no expectations=no disappointment, yet every year I imagine doing something nice on my birthday, or something special just for myself and it never happens. My family always celebrated birthdays, to make the birthday 'kid' feel special, feel loved. Unfortunately I moved away after getting married and my husband's family doesn't celebrate anything really. I don't even get 'happy birthday' from him. We usually do lunch with his parents, but it's always about them, we need to go to place they want to go, eat what they want to eat etc. I tried to protest once and it turned into huge drama and me being called selfish and drama queen just because I admited I'd like to spend the day the way I like it, taking time for myself... So yeah my birthday makes me depressed, I know it's going to be some kind of drama again, and all I really want is for someone to actually pay attention to me on that day, few nice words... Oh well maybe next year... Ahh expectations again...


alone 18 months ago

Im going to be 35 tomorrow and I know I will be depressed all day. I have a million reasons for this but no one will care tomorrow and it hurts


letstalkabouteduc profile image

letstalkabouteduc 18 months ago from Bend, OR

So glad to know I'm not alone in dreading birthdays. As an introvert, I'm always conflicted about the Big Day -- part of me NOT wanting the attention and part of me definitely wanting it ( believe me, I know my confusion makes it tricky for my family). As I get older, I agree that we need to take control of the day and determine how we want to celebrate -- whether it's hiking alone or going out to dinner with friends.


Chriswillman90 profile image

Chriswillman90 18 months ago from Parlin, New Jersey

Well done, this is one of the most honest and well written articles I've read on here. It's also very relatable to many people like myself who doesn't get excited about their birthday. To me it's just another day but I'm okay with that. My standards have always been modest and I never made a fuss when something related to me. I quietly pat myself on the back if I accomplish a goal and leave it at that. Great hub and voted up.


Sallyann 18 months ago

Thanks for writing this - it is a very sensible and well written article. I have always felt down around my birthday and had pretty much come to the same conclusions you have about what causes the blues. It is my birthday in 2 days and today i organised going to the cinema with an old friend. I had planned to buy myself some new plants for the garden and after reading this i might buy myself some nice flowers too.


Isabella 17 months ago

This was just what I needed to read. I'm saving it to read next year... after which I will buy myself flowers and a massage. Thanks! :-)


SuriG 17 months ago

I thought it was just me! Glad to know I'm not alone..

Tomorrow is my Bday and this is when I realize how lonely I'm.


Marcely 17 months ago

is it just me but this didn't make me feel better at all .. I'm turning 16 tomorrow and I have no legit reason to feel so sad. None of these reasons apply to me. Maybe it's cause I'm so young. I'm glad it made others feel better


Jarrod 16 months ago

Turning 20 tomorrow. I feel kind of better knowing I'm not the only one but at the same time, I wish none of you felt like this. It sucks!


nikki 16 months ago

35 today. ugh.


jimbob 16 months ago

42 today. Not one happy birthday other than the bank!


Tina 15 months ago

The only thing good about my 43rd birthday today is reading that I'm not alone in feeling let down and depressed. Birthdays have never been overly celebrated and I feel that my expectations aren't high but family forgetting is a hard hit for me. Also newly married and he didn't go out of his way.....

Oh well. Tommorow is a new day and I need to learn how I can make myself happy and not count on others.


Zamnski 15 months ago

Turning 22 on the 8th and found this article and read through all the comments. Felt this way last year when I turned 21, but I couldn't really put my finger on it. Oh no, nvm--Right, expectations of having this big bash because everyone made a big deal of turning 21. But it wasn't... What I got in retrospect was, nice, I guess. My friend surprised me at the park with a group of our friends. No cake though, there was supposed to be one. But something happened, I forget what. But they were all there, one issue is I kinda question the legitimacy of those group of friends... but then again I'm still just as close as I was with them, this time last year. So they must be true friends.

I think the main thing for me is accomplishments, and expectations in life (sure a cake would be nice) . I should have my EE degree by now, or at least a little closer than I am now. Maybe a significant other? Its been 4 years since my last serious relationship. Idk, I just tell myself, maybe i'm not ready.

If I come back to this article in 2016. Reflect on all the accomplishments you've done since 2015.. If there isn't much, well bruh thats on you.

To everyone else reading this: I hope you genuinely do have a happy birthday, or find some peace or more importantly something--something that will make your day a little more enjoyable.


Heather 14 months ago

I'm so happy I found this article! I too, grew up with delusions of birthday grander due to a mother who spoiled me on that day each year but as the years went by & into adulthood...my birthday became more & more of a let down! Causing me to feel unloved & unappreciated by the ones closest to me. It's hard to even admit this because it sounds so superficial & selfish of me...but nonetheless, it's my shameful truth! My birthday is coming up in a few days (I turn 44) & I decided to pull the plug on ANY expectations from my family in order to protect my heart from any hurt or disappointment. So I told my children & husband not to do anything for me on that day & explained they could wish me a happy birthday but that's the extent of what I wanted because I didn't want to celebrate "age" (of course I lied to sound less childish). I told them they could get me a gift or card on any other day surrounding that day, IF they really wanted to but by doing it this way, I figured it would take all the pressure off them & especially me. I urged them to understand that this isn't a test or me being a martyr, but just a way for me to cope & they reluctantly understood. However, I am nervous for when that day comes because I'm not sure how I'm going to cope with the terms I set up but it seems less painful than if I got my hopes up for something that never seems to happen. Anyway, your article gave me some very good ideas about what to do to make "ME" happy on that day & I truly thank you for that! One day I hope to detach from this ridiculous birthday madness but for now...I'll take it the best way I can :)


John 14 months ago

Today is my birthday and this helped a bit, so thanks.


Emi 13 months ago

I was at least expecting a call from my mom but nothing so far... oh well, I guess I should'nt wait for anyone to wish me well.


Kirst 13 months ago

Best wishes Emi


Lucie 12 months ago

My 18th is tomorrow and after having no real responsibilities and hence anything to gain a sense of achievement from after graduating, I've been pretty down. And I guess I would've been more depressed tomorrow if I didn't read this. So thank you.


12 months ago

Thank you for this! I have had birthday depression for years and always thought it was just me. I feel depressed, then embarrassed for feeling depressed about something so silly. I feel better now.


Angie I. 12 months ago

I'm so glad I came upon this website cause I almost went to bed crying last night cause of going through another birthday. I used to love birthdays & look forward to them while I was a child but as I've gotten older, it just depresses me & really don't know why?


PKeysing 12 months ago

Today is my 46 birthday. I have found myself over the years becoming depressed during my birthday and feeling guilty about being depressed. I don't always feel this way on every birthday; but, from time to time my depression does seem to surface. I am glad that I came a cross is article; it has seem to help me feel better. I also know that tomorrow will be better. But for now, I just want this day to be over with:/.


Raine 12 months ago

Thank you so much for writing this. Monday will be my 33rd birthday, and I've been in and out of small crying bouts since yesterday. I decided to try something new this year, and scheduled some flowers to be delivered to my home on my birthday, with a sweet note to myself.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.


JJ 12 months ago

Hi, I also always feel depressed on my Birthday, I your article proves that it is because of expectations. I am always afraid that nobody wants to celebrate my Birthday.

My sister is just 1 year elder to me and has her birth date 2 days after mine.

My parents always celebrated my birthday along with her only, which has impacted me badly that my birthday is not important as till my boyfriend celebrated it first time it was always celebrated on wrong date before. :(

Now, my boyfriend who has become my husband, when he celebrates my birthday it is not exited at all, seems it is not important for him now. :(


Sp 11 months ago

Happy birthday .... No such things


Abhinav 10 months ago

I don't expect anything good in my regular life n that helps me a lot from disappointment even if something goes wrong. But on my very special day , my birthday, i cannot stop myself . I expect too much form others. Now after some days its my 18th birthday and i am so nervous about that. again i am expecting a good gift, but i am pretty sure that i will not get that. There are still 2 weeks left but I feel so shaky when i think about it.


Bella Sames profile image

Bella Sames 10 months ago from UK

Wonderfully written and great advice.


the depressed 9 months ago

hi its my birthday today and i am always been deporessed on my birthday. I dred my birthday every year. this really he.p me thanks i need this. (i to eat cake in the dark with a baricaded bedroom and crying myself to sleep. So thanks. Happy 17th bday to me :/


Margie Sims 9 months ago

Hello Jen!

I am a parenting writer, writing an article on the birthday blues for Memphis Parent Magazine (circ 40,000). May I interview you on this topic?

mrgsms@gmail.com


Nasim 7 months ago

I don`t know when you have wrote that but it seems that you wrote it after we had a deep conversation.. it was all the words in my head and all the healing words that I wanted to hear... thank you.. it really feels good when you know you are not the only one in the world who is not happy on her own birthday...


Milllie 7 months ago

It will be my birthday in 3 days... I wish I could avoid it until I have accomplished my goals but it is impossible. I have lost so much more than gain. It is tough... Your advice to reduce my expectations answers it for me. Reading this article describes exactly what I am going through. I will do my best for my 30th birthday. We all get to live once, right?


Megan 7 months ago

It is nice to know we're not alone. I feel like such an ass feeling sorry for myself on my birthday, but here I am turning 30 and my dad is the only one who called me today and he was shocked I hadn't heard from anyone else yet. Nothing from my sis, or my grandparents. I want so desperately not to care about my birthday at all, but I can't figure out how. I just want to crawl in a hole and die. I even had a great dinner with friends, but had to plan it and cook it myself. I try to be cool about stuff but I can't stand that I have been gaining weight, I feel like a cow. This feels like an uphill battle.


Rich 7 months ago

Friends or a romantic dinner? What's that? For my so called big 50th as most of my birthdays. I was alone. No friends no girlfriend no so called family! So, much for the big milestone 50th birthday. Romantic dinner? I think I saw that before somewhere. Yes, I am quite certain. Oh yes now I remember it was a movie that's it. lol. But you have to actually have a girlfriend for that so that leaves that out. But I have heard of a girlfriend. I know people have them. But never was I so fortunate to have one.


Alison 7 months ago

Glad to know I'm not the only one. I'm 49 today and have been down all day. I make sure even one else's birthdays are good but I never feel it is reciprocated. I think I always put my expectations high and am frequently disappointed. I can't remember the last birthday I enjoyed. I have the double whammy of Mothers Day being tomorrow. Two days of being let down and feeling unappreciated. I just want to feel special.


Christian Mills 6 months ago

It sucks feeling sorry for yourself; I've felt this way for the majority of my life. Birthdays are the worst for reminding you that you were simply a mistake.

There seems to be little love in my family, almost nil, and that continues inside me and forever stops me from growing. A lonely life punctuated with yearly reminders.


Zara 6 months ago

I told my family that we should celebrate my birthday with sushi and some grill outside. The only thing we had for food was meat, though I'm vegetarian... I know silly thing to feel bad about, but I couln't hold my tears there and went to my room to cry

Really good article :)


Lorraine Bonfante 6 months ago

all I wanted was my mom to make a birthday dinner and......nothing. happy birthday to me tho.


Clayton 6 months ago

Really dont want to celebrate my 30th birthday this year. But I feel like my family are making this big thing. All I really want is to be left alone. I dont have the energy, care or motivation for this sh*t.


Rebekah 6 months ago

Thank you for this article! I was having a rough day on my birthday today and stumbled onto your post. It made me feel better and made me think about what I can do to have a better day for myself!


Bruce 6 months ago

My birthday depresses me because I was born. I really don't like living. I don't care much for life. I turned 47 today. There's nothing to look back on. I am really hoping this is my last birthday.


Nday 6 months ago

Bit random and wordy. The survey is a bit skewed since people searched for bday nlues to get here. But hey, Clean it up and post it on a not so cluttered page.


old 5 months ago

I have been depressed for 84 yrs at bday time--good to read others feel the same--THANK YOU!


rayya 5 months ago

Thanks, I feel much better after reading this article, but the thing is that I'm only 13 and I can't treat myself at a restaurant or go for a shopping spree, I guess I was having high expectations, because I feel disappointed, but it could've been worse


Sonali 5 months ago

Thank you for this article. It's my birthday today, but I've been feeling very lonely all day long. But now, i think i feel better.


Alex 5 months ago

Today is my 27th Birthday and I really needed this. Thank you.


Tonberry 4 months ago

for the poll, i dont see why anyone not sad would read this, i expected that resul


Alix 4 months ago

Okay so this whole thing was pretty much (in a nut shell) lower your expectations...but what do you do when your expectations are already so low and for the worst...and your horribly low expectations are completely met, no matter what...every year?


Aydan 3 months ago

Honestly this really. I just turned 16 today and I was ok this morning no bad feeling honest kinda excited for no reason.

But as the day went on and I just went about my daily routine I of doing nothing because it's the summer I just slowly lost the will to do anything.

By the end of the day I just wanted to crawl under my covers and cry, and I couldn't figure out why so I googled it and found this.

As I read I realized the reasons I felt so sad, when I was 7-10 years old my mom had me and my brothers by herself and could pay to do much soi learned to except less on my birthday. But then she got remarried and had money and my dad got partial custody of us so I started to get more in general.

So for the past few years I have been expecting more and getting more. Between my sister (not moms daughter) planing me "surprise" parties and getting real gifts on my actually birthday it felt amazing to have a day where everyone was forced to pay attention to which never happened other wise.

Then 2 weeks ago my sister and dad had a huge fight and he kicked her out and sent her to live with her mom in Texas, so there goes my party where all of my friends and siblings would be having fun and eating junk food all day.

So then I made plans with my friend who is leaving for the school year to go see suucide squad before she leaves in two days. Then my family went on a road trip to go pick up my step brother which completely narrowed the window of time I had to see her. And in the end she was sick and couldn't go with me so now I won't see her for a year.

Then after my family ate our standard dinner that I got to choose my step dad still tells me to help with the dishes and I do I because arguing with him is not a good idea.

I just have never felt this bad about good intentions in my entire life and I literally feel completely broken right now


Michelle 3 months ago

Today is my birthday and I am crying as I read this article. I started to feel down last night because I knew that nothing was going to happen for me on my birthday. My birthdays are always the same. I always think that one day my significant other will get it. That he will realize that I expect a planned, wonderful day. He never seems to listen to me or plan for anything.

I am tired of always giving and not receiving. This article has helped me out a bit. I just want this day to be over. I know I will feel better tomorrow because it won't be my birthday. The Seinfeld clip made me laugh though.

Thanks.


Daniel 3 months ago

Thank-you for this article. Today is my 33rd bday and like many here I am very depressed on this day. Literally completely alone, don't want to be with anyone at all for fear of bringing them down. There was so much I wanted to achieve by this age, and have failed miserably. After reading this article I have given my self permission to grieve and cry, it feels better to be able to do just that. If anyone else out there feels this on their bday just remember; "This too shall pass". I sincerely hope that the rest of all of your birthdays overflow with hope and joy. If you are reading this on your bday, happy bday from me to you! You are not alone! God bless you all.


3 months ago

Wonderful advice. I hit 40 today and after talking to my partner about what great things we could do together at the weekend he planned none of them - he couldn't choose! This advice has helped and I'm going to walk the dogs and work on my happy dance. Happy birthday to everyone.


crsthin 2 months ago

today is my birthday blues 9.9


Caroline 2 months ago

Today is my birthday and I always feel like no one seems to care... but thank you for this. I'm currently at work and I think they forgot to order the cake because I share a birthday with my boss. He's more important to the group. After work.. I'm alone. I plan on buying new jewelry and eat lobster by myself. I'm going to take this one baby step at a time because I feel like birthdays are important. Here's to everyone being alone.


Ivy 2 months ago

Can't believe I'm doing this but yeah it's suck!!! But thank you for sharing this article.. happy bday to me!


Isabella 2 months ago

Today I turn 21. My boyfriend went out of town to Vegas with his friend. My boyfriend has to work the whole weekend. My only expectations were that I'd get to spend time with them. I cancelled plans to go out and drink with a new coworker because my boyfriend had never met him. Meanwhile he's having drinks with as many random strangers as he can. It's easy to say "I only get depressed on my birthday". I'm just always depressed. It's when those thoughts that the people you cherish don't care quite as much about you become actual reality, that it helps to bring on the wallowing loneliness. I spend a lot of my time in my room, alone, in the dark as it is. The fact that it's 10 am and I still haven't even gotten a happy Birthday text from either of them is what's making me feel so completely forgotten. Reading this isn't making me feel any better, and writing it is just making the tears flow freer. At least I got to vent to someone. And at least I have my parents and sister to spend today with.


Kleine Fingers 8 weeks ago

I cant beleve that noby showed up for bdday. my two dads must hat me alot :(((


Steven 7 weeks ago

Today is my 30th birthday and this article made me feel a little better. I've been holding back tears ever since I woke up. My boyfriend's away all week for work (his birthday is tomorrow, so it sucks for him too), all my friends seem to be busy or away on vacation, so I don't really have anyone to celebrate with, it seems.

After reading this, I looked back on the past year with a different perspective and I realized it has been a wonderful one. My boyfriend and I moved in together, we bought an apartment, I'm in the process of fulfilling a lifelong dream. So even if today might be a lonely day, ruined by expectations, I'm going to treat myself! And I like the idea of setting up a plan for the coming year, so maybe turning 32 won't feel this crappy!

Thank you for this article!


Vaishali 7 weeks ago

Your article really motivated me..


Jen 6 weeks ago

I turned 22 yesterday. Im still awake and literally cant sleep even if i have to work in 4h. I havent felt this depressed in years. I guess because as you mentioned, im mourning over all the stuff i havent achieved yet because im insanely comparing myself to others. I cancelled all my plans and just cried all day.

Tomorrow is a new day with nice weather. And after all, 22 is no age at all. I have a lifetime to achieve things :)


Jj 6 weeks ago

Happy birthday to me!!my kids went to school,my husband to work!! Nice day to be by myself (sigh). Been at the couch watching movies and feeling so sad, just wanna cry. Expecting something from my family is so hard. It always disappoints me.well, they never really tried to make it special anyway. So,thank you for this article because next time i will make it special for myself!! To those whose birthdays are like mine Happy birthday to us! Next time lets celebrate it with or without others!!


Jan 4 weeks ago

My birthday today. We were never made a fuss of when I was growing up even on bitrthdays. Over the years I've watched so many others be spoilt and had affection lavished on them . My close friend had her birthday last week. Apparently she got nigh on 50 cards. I didn't know you could get that many. Great article though. I am going out to get myself a present, flowers and a fancy cake. I feel better already!


Amy Washington 4 weeks ago

Today is mine. The comments helped more than the article. Who would have thought I would be venting through a old article...I always think about how since i was small my grandmother had to take us in( because of our absentee mothers and fathers) so our birthdays was simply homemade and cake and ice cream. Christmas sucked too. Moving forward I've always had high hopes and expectations as an adult (this year will be my year!) only to get an underwhelming experience. As a mom I spend hundreds on parties and gifts during the summer months. Then when my birthdays comes around we're low on funds getting ready for Christmas and this year a bonus! A new baby my husband wanted. I can't even be excited about the new baby without thinking about everything it needs on my birthday. So guess what. This year I almost got the kohler turtles I like but shipping was 13$ and we almost went to some lame improv comedy show but the tickets were 34$. So guess what now I get to choose breakfast out to eat or dinner. The decision hasn't even been made. It was more like what do you want to do? Breakfast or dinner. I'm sobbing like a big baby. :(. While my kids are trying to sing to me I can't help but feel like a big spoiled ass baby myself. Very guily. It's had for me to fake it this year like I do every year. Nevertheless, I'll get over it but today is my day and I choose to be depressed. As I said earlier it helps seeing other ppl go though it makes me feel like God isn't only picking on me and eveyone with these awesome childhood memories and those getting cars and all these awesome gifts and surrounded by tons of ppl who actually care are simply the chosen few. Everyone can't be happy,right. I'll try to take control of my own birthday next year. Sadly I say that every year so no promises. Time to get up and get the kids ready for my birthday breakfast lets get this over with. Good luck guys.


3 weeks ago

You know how everyone is so excited about sweet 16? I know I might sound really young when I say I'm stil 15, but I feel like a weight is on my shoulder coming closer to my birthday (which is next week). Everyone is so excited about their sweet 16 but me? I feel like it isn't the most precious moment of my life and that bothers me. I have friends but neither of them know my birthday. I don't want to tell them either but you know, a small part of me wishes they'll tell me 'Happy Birthday' and it would be the best surprise ever. But there is no school on my birthday, which makes it worse since I'll be staying home all day with my parents gone to work, and my brother gone to university. My friends aren't that close to me, but you know what? This was the day I was born so I'll still try to be happy about it. No sweet 16 trash because once again, it is a dumb expectaction for everyone to have a sweet 16. Thanks for this article. You're amazing.


Kyan 3 weeks ago

Surprisingly, I'm nine years old and depressed. My birthday is tomorrow and the one thing I wasn't in the whole world is a laptop and nobody will get it for me and now I'm sitting in my bed crying because I never seem to get anything I ever want on my birthday. This article definitely helped me!


Veronica 2 weeks ago

Aaand here my birthday comes... on 22nd of this month. Depressed already, no idea what is going to happen then! But very nice article. I am definitely going to say myself- "Happy birthday, you're a rockstar"!


Nin Styles 2 weeks ago

I want to thank the writer of this article. Today's my birthday and I don't know why but ever since my 18th birthday(I'm 25 now) I feel like there's something missing. although my friends and family never forget my day, it still feels that way. I feel happy but not a hundred percent. but, still I want to thank the people behind this article. thanks for the uplifting and cheering message.


Anon 2 weeks ago

17 tomorrow and I can't remember the last time I didn't feel depressed about it. My mum asked my what I wanted for dinner tomorrow and I said I didn't want to go out for it, went upstairs and cried for a good 15 mins. I've had a good 2 cries today and no doubt there'll be more tomorrow. Wish I could skip the day tbh. I don't know why I hate my own birthday but I just do. Had a great childhood and upbringing, nothing sad associated with the day. Just one of them things. Cheers for the article though, glad I'm not the only one.


Anon 13 days ago

Don't think of birthdays much... Including mine...


Nov 30 6 days ago

Today is my bday I was expecting heaps I got barely anything and I cried the whole day which made my famil feel bad . They tried so hard but I can't stop crying. There's only 15 mins left of it and I'm glad I found this . It really helped me feel better. Thank youuu

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