01 December 2011

On the Occasion of my 33rd Birthday

Remember when I had a minor freak-out over having turned 30? (It's okay if you don't; that's why I added that handy link there.) My birthdays have been dark clouds looming over me for the last several years. Being that my birthday is in December, I've often found myself adapting the harsh words of Ebenezer Scrooge:
What's [your birthday] to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer...
I wonder whether I would feel such anxiety if my birthday wasn't so close to the end of the calendar year. Christmas looms over the entire month, itself an annual reminder that I'm no better off financially than I was the previous year, but lurking around the corner is New Year's Day, prepared to ambush me once Christmas is finished mugging me. I've become irritable about my birthday to the point that the last two years, my wife didn't even try to arrange anything for me--at my insistence, I should add, lest anyone think ill of her for this. She fought me on it for a few years, but became so weary from the conflict that she gave up and let me simply sulk.

Well, this year is different.

This year, I almost didn't have a birthday.

A little after midnight on 6 October, my depression became so poisonous that I nearly ended my life. I had a bottle of bourbon in my hand, and a bottle of sleeping pills to go with it. Only by distracting myself with Batman on Blu-ray could I allow the urge to subside enough to put down both bottles. That evening, I checked into a mental health facility. In the last two months, I have reasserted myself over my depression. It's a never-ending battle, of course, but right now I'm winning.

My friends have all rallied around me, as have my family members. Even Ramona has become affectionate with me, and she used to ignore me entirely! (Ramona is our cat, for those who may not know her.) I've discovered a self-confidence about my writing. I've seen the kind of positive effect I can have on people through this blog, and other interactions. I won't save the world, but I think I can leave it better than I found it and that's all any of us can ever reasonably strive to accomplish. I'm good with that.

So for a change, I actually feel good about my birthday. I've been reminded of late of all the positive things in my life and so today, a week after Thanksgiving, I again find myself awash with gratitude. For those of you who have read this blog, I thank you for your time. I look forward to connecting with you. I was going to have my first-ever therapy appointment today, but that has been rescheduled for next Friday (the therapist had some kind of medical emergency; I hope everything is okay!). I am, however, still going to meet with a friend of mine for a late lunch at Frisch's (I've been craving a Big Boy--no lettuce or pickle--and a hot fudge cake). Tentatively, I'm also on for putting up the Christmas tree with my cousin tonight. If that happens, I'll be sure to upload photos so you can see just how big a geek I really am.

For the tweeters among you, I would sincerely appreciate it if you would use the hashtag #CrohnsSucks today. I'm determined to get it to trend on my birthday!

Looking back on today, I have a hard time even remembering feeling the way I felt when I wrote this earlier. It has been an eventful day. In addition to my therapy session being rescheduled, I did not meet my friend for lunch. I will only say that she had a very rough day and we're hopeful we can get together next Friday when I go for my therapy session. Another friend very dear to me has experienced a personal tragedy.

Three months ago, this would have been overwhelming for me. Today, I hurt because people I care about hurt. I feel frustrated that I cannot make their hurt go away. My heart breaks for both of them. Yet, I have not freaked out or broken down. I have proven to myself that my emotional resilience is improving. I don't ever want to be so stoic that events like these don't faze me; the very notion seems inhuman to me. But I also wish to be able to function amid such goings-on and today I saw that I can do that again.

I don't wish to sound like a narcissist hijacking their tragedies to pat myself on the back, mind you. But I do not discuss other people in this blog in any kind of intimate fashion and it would be highly inappropriate for me to share their stories here. That leaves me only with a rather ambiguous account of my reactions to their terrible day and I hope that, should either of them read this post, they will understand that their emotional well-being and safety mean much more to me than the opportunity to talk about myself in a positive light.


  1. Happy Birthday Travis!

    Hope that some of your ambitions come to pass over the next year, and that you find yourself that much happier/more positive twelve months from now.

    Have fun with the tree :)

  2. I am so glad you have received something positive on your special day, even if it wasn't a cheeseburger.

  3. Thank you, Shawnee. I'm still crestfallen over one of my two aforementioned friends, but at least I can take solace that the other was--at last report--doing reasonably well. Their welfare vastly outweighs whether or not I had the lunch of my choice!