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"I'm Depressed on My Birthday" - Handling the Birthday Blues

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Jennifer is a school psychologist working with children from kindergarten to high school. She enjoys hiking, backpacking, and yoga.

It's My Birthday, and I'll Cry If I Want To!

It's My Birthday, and I'll Cry If I Want To!

It's Your Birthday . . . but You Feel Like Crying

Everyone knows what birthdays are supposed to look like, right? Maybe something like 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 what it's supposed to look like . . . then why is it that when my birthday rolls around I find myself lying 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 may 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, perhaps even most of the time, our expectations aren't met. This can lead to feelings of disappointment, frustration, and sadness.

Read on to learn more about how this all works—and how to turn things around so you can have an enjoyable birthday this year!

That Nasty Word: 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 about:

  1. Where we are in our lives, and what we think our lives should look like at this point.
  2. How we'd like the birthday celebration itself to to unfold.

All too often, birthdays become a reminder of all the things we haven't accomplished, all the ways we are behind our peers, or all the things we are lacking. Birthdays represent a milestone 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 by the time 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 women. She mourned that picture-perfect life that she didn't have.

As for me, for the past decade I've been deluding myself into thinking that I'm still 21. I feel young and in my mind; 30-somethings are so old! (Apologies to those of you who are in your 30s or older. You are not old.) So when those birthdays come 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, as we age, it seems that there should be changes in terms of how we feel or where we are in our lives. 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. Don't let social media, society, and other influences dictate what your life "should" be like.

Remember, always live in the present, and know that probably everyone in the world experiences these feelings, at least sometimes. We all ruminate over unmet expectations. 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.

Birthday blues

Birthday blues

Birthday Week

When I was growing up, my family always celebrated "birthday week." Not a day, and not just a birthday dinner—a whole 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 homemade meal 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 additional 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 marking the day with just dinner and a small gift, 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. A birthday dinner can be an absolutely lovely event, but if we use birthday week or any other expectation as a comparison, we ruin what could have been a great time.

8 Ways to Tackle Birthday Blues

So what's a person in birthday-blues recovery to do? Here are some ways to tackle or prevent the birthday blues:

1. Lower Your Expectations

Easier said than done, but try to lower your expectations. Don't expect anyone to do anything for you. Or expect that your birthday party will be 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 had always been 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 still 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 yourself!

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 her goal to write 50 letters letting people know how much she loved them, try 50 new restaurants, vacation just 50 miles from her home, and 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 embarrassed to make a point of mentioning your birthday to 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.

Be Kind to Yourself

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 sadness at one time or another, too. If you could tell that person something in that moment of sadness, what would you say? Now, tell yourself those same words.

Happy birthday! You're a rock star!

You're a Rock Star!

The ROCK STAR birthday girl!

The ROCK STAR birthday girl!

Seinfeld: "Happy Birthday, No Such Thing"

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2013 JenBarn


It's me again on June 01, 2020:

I never liked birthdays. I just don't like that attention people gives me for just one day.

No good birthdays on April 09, 2020:

My birthday is a week away, I’ll be 18. My last few birthdays I’ve gotten depressed for various reasons. In 2016 my grandmother who I was very close to passed away. And every birthday since has been hard. I’ve always baked my own cake and had family over one day and gone out with friends another day, but it’s been hard, I just tried to stay happy and know that my grandmother I still there for me even if she’s passed on. This year, for my 18th birthday, I’d planned a week long Universal studios Orlando trip, as I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. But with the coronavirus stuff, I can’t go on my vacation, I can’t even go out for lunch with friends, and I certainly can’t have my family over. And to make matters worse, I’m way behind my friends. My bestie is a year older than me, and at 18 had already earned her associates degree in psychology. I’m struggling to graduate high school and have no plan for my future...

1!!1111111!!!!!!!!!!! on February 02, 2018:

Im tired though i never wanted a birthday with o many people aroung i just want to be with my mom but shes so far away overseas i am surrounded by people feel lonely inside................anyways people around me think that im attention seeking but im not

hero on February 02, 2018:

i feel like nobody's giving a heck about my existance i'm a good person and i always try my best to make people happy yet here i am on my birthday and not a single wish i kept wondering if it's hard for someone to make u happy with two words i'm not even expecting gifts or cakes all i want is a single i'm glad that you're born

bethany kelly on January 15, 2018:

i am sad because it is my grandmas birthday this thursday and then a week on wednesday it is my grandmas -g's birthday

Caileigh on January 01, 2018:

Yeah um, both of my siblings are gone for the day and so is my mum. My dad has his own friends over and I've gotten minimal acknowledgement from friends and family. I REALLY just wanted to feel loved and appreciated but instead, I'm just alone. (1st of Jan)

Jack on December 11, 2017:

Well.. I'm here cuz it's my birthday and I feel empty.. it would have been nice if I was sad or happy or at least feel something but I just feel empty..

Me again on December 05, 2017:

You don't need to post my story about NY, I just needed to vent

Nobody Cares on December 05, 2017:

Tomorrow is my birthday.

I moved to New York from 3,000 miles away a few months ago and it's taken me forever to make friends. I finally made some and a week ago told them I wanted to go get tacos for my birthday. At that time, they told me they were already going to be busy Wednesday night. So I moved on to the next friend, or person I thought was a friend, who stopped replying to my texts recently. So I left a hand written note on Sunday night: "My birthday is Wednesday. Would you like to get tacos with me? Please let me know." They let me know by never responding.

My co-workers are all New Yorkers and have their lives full of family and friends; there's no time or need for me so I didn't even mention my birthday was coming up. I already called in sick tomorrow because I would just be crying all day.

I turned 18 in New York on a high school field trip and it was wonderful! I'll be 37 tomorrow and not a single person will tell me happy birthday in person. Sure, my parents will FaceTime me and my grandparents already called me tonight, but it's not the same. It won't be the same tomorrow when I sit alone eating tacos, trying to hold back tears, and buying myself a little cupcake and singing to myself in my head on the street thinking how 20 years ago my teacher and friends did the same thing for me and made me feel special in Chinatown.

I've never really had a significant other, nor do I feel that I've accomplished a anything substantial in my career. I have no children or house. Just a few college degrees and student loan debt to show for my "success."

So, it's not even about the gifts (I've had birthdays before with no gifts). It's about having company and not being alone and somebody to look you in the eye and tell you "Happy Birthday" with love and to mean it. Am I selfish for wanting that?

Firefly7 on October 26, 2017:

these tips are cute but mostly your lifes story. In the real world sometimes some of us are on fixed incomes and can't run to a mall to go on shopping sprees which wouldn't make anyone happy anyway. I am single with a 9yr daughter. My family is a not what you'd call supportive friendly or kind so they don't call or come around unless there's something in it for them. I don't have any friends. I am truly alone. It's ok sometimes just on holidays and birthday is when it bothers me the most. I don't have the funds to take a mini vacation or go to nice resturants. I am open to any suggestions though because I dam sure in desperate need of pampering or something just for me. Everything I do or get is always for or about my daughter. Being a single parent is extremely difficult but I get by without complaining. Calgon please take me away! Just saying all that stuff you talked about really only works for the working people, what about everyone else? I may not be employed but I do have stable income.

Anonymous on October 26, 2017:

My birthday use to be very special. After my husband passed away, they have become harder to deal with. I thought maybe this year would be better. I finally found someone special and thought we were going to spend time together.

Today he pulls the rug out from under me by telling me the plans have changed and his daughter will be visiting from out of town.

I told him to just spend the time with her, even though I'm upset.

Bottom line is I shouldn't plan anything on my so called "special day" because it never pans out the way I imagine.

I've decided this year to spend it alone, watching sad movies and a box of kleenex!

Anonymous on October 14, 2017:


Next birthday, YOU get your engagement ring fixed. Put it in a box, wrap it, and label it, "From Your Adoring Husband." Buy a special gift that you really want, like a warm, soft bathrobe. Wrap it up in pretty paper, and label it, "From Your Adoring Boyfriend." haha. Just kidding. ;)

I don't have a husband. No kids. And all I get is texts, if that. Last birthday, no one called me and I spent the entire day (and night) in tears. Today, I got a few texts. I really would have appreciated a phone call. (This virtual, electronic, facebook world, is so impersonal.) So, I called someone dear to me and we had a nice chat.

All day, the thought went through my head that I didn't have to spend the day alone, but I wanted to rest. So, I'm telling myself, "Tomorrow is my birthday"...when I'm meeting with family to celebrate.

This isn't my eternity. I won't feel this way forever. It's just one day in my life. Tomorrow will be better. And next year, I'll make my day special, hanging out with at least one dear friend.

Shannon on September 29, 2017:

Today is my 36th birthday. This morning, I found the receipt for what my husband got me for my birthday. It is a small kitchen appliance, he only spent $20. It's not even something that I've ever asked for, or would even want. It has kind of made my day pretty shitty so far. When I open my gift tonight, it's going to be hard to feign gratefulness. We have been together for 18 years, and it just makes me really sad that he couldn't possibly realize that I would want something different for my birthday, like a manicure or a facial or a massage, or a gift card to go by myself some clothes or something. My engagement ring has been broken for several years, And every birthday, Christmas, and anniversary that he asks what I want, I say that I want my engagement ring fixed so I can wear it again. But he just doesn't do it. The only people to even egg knowledge my birthday so far has been my husband, my sister in a text, and my mom in a text. This really is the most depressing birthday ever.

me on September 11, 2017:



is a Melanie Martinez reference

Rose on September 05, 2017:

When I was very young we didn't celebrate my birthday because my mother was Jehova's witness and she said my birthday wasn't important because I wasn't important. Yet all my classmates and even my brother got parties and presents. (My brother couldn't help it, being born in Christmas Eve, but I didn't understand that as a child.) Later, she left her faith but I still never had birthday parties, either because my mother said so, or, on some sad occasions, I would plan everything out carefully and lovingly, only to learn that everybody invited was on vacation. Still, my brother and my little sister lways got parties and gifts. For my last birthday, my mother actively tried everything in her power to ruin it for me. I usually spend my birthday alone, and trying to do something nice for myself will only make me feel more lonely.

No one on August 30, 2017:

Im 52 today. Im a lil depressed; for about a week. Married to a man who loves me but its strained after30+ together. Ive accomplished a few things in my life but feel empty too. Coulda woulda but no self motivation. I seek the communication now that is somewhat lacking at home. Anyways popped the article... im treating myself to some shopping and a nice dinner at home. Just now got a text from hiubby wishing me HB..this lifted me a lil. Life goes on...this is just one day..i have much to be grateful and thankful for. Health; Life & Love

Little_Owl on August 30, 2017:

It's my 18th birthday today, and it's terrible. My parents are the unsentimental type so, beyond the "Oh yeah Happy Birthday" there's not much there. I tried talking to my dad about the depression I've been struggling with for 7 years now and his response was to just move on past it. My friend cancelled our plans, my brother made ones to go out with friends and it feels like there's no one on this earth who cares. And that's hard because the people you expect to love you are the ones who don't think im worth their time. I've been given lectures about the 'parasite' and 'failure' I am. I hate that I'm turning 18 and everyone keeps telling me and reminding me it's a big deal but at the same times I feel so alone and uncared about.

EC on August 11, 2017:

Yes always ! My birthday always sad that'ts why i dont celebrate my birthday

18 teenage on August 05, 2017:

yesterday was my 18th birthday. But instead of receiving gifts, i received lecture from my parents. It was very painful, and depressing. They don't care if it was 18th birth day or whatsoever. Those giving me blues until now. I admit that i expected too much, but those are beyond of my worst expectation, It is 18th or debut, one of the most special celebration for a teenager, and that became my worst day/part of my life. All I did was to cry and cry and cry all over again.. I have no on to talk to about it..

paul on August 02, 2017:

This is interesting reading but what gets me people are false birthdays and xmas nice or extra nice to you .but nasty or not pleasant the rest of the year or on the odd day .perhaps its my fault. just be nice all year.

L on July 28, 2017:

Monday is gonna be my birthday......but I'm not gonna even acknowledge it. My mother said some pretty cruel things to me this morning only to later try to cover it up with a half-assed apology that was clearly an effort to justify her shittiness.

I know when Monday rolls around she's gonna try to act like she cares only so she can make HERSELF feel good.

I won't be celebrating anything......instead I'll be in mourning. fml

Jr on July 22, 2017:

Thank you! ♥️

summertime4ever on July 12, 2017:

Im 31 in two days. I thought 30 was bad...

I enjoyed the article and cried a little at my desk at work.

Reading the other comment made me feel neutral.

Im a single mom to a 4yo boy.

I work part time retail. Seeing my other friends more established somehow still doesnt motivate me to do better. I dont know why i justify myself being ok. I have 6$ to my name and dont get paid till tuesday. Not sure how my birthday will pan out. My bf has never got me a present in 3 years and doesnt plan on it. Even though ive bought him countless expensive gifts. he says ur a mom u dont need anything. my parents always make a fuss because im their only child. so i will have that to count on. I just want my friends and bf to care as much as my parents...

Thank You For this post. I really enjoyed it

Sam. on July 06, 2017:

Today is my 13th birthday. Me my twin sister and my parents were gonna go bowling. My mom had to leave to take my papa to a doctors appointment, my dad went to get a haircut, when he got home he took a shower and watched tv.

Dad: I took the whole day off to spend time with u

Roxanne on June 25, 2017:

Its my birthday at the moment and people are just talking with each other besides me. They're even gonna sleep here while all they're doing is talk about weird stuff. I'm fucking sad. They don't fucking care if I'm against it.

Chris Tiernan on June 21, 2017:

in two days I will have existed for two decades. It sounds depressing but my plan is -Going to see Ricky Gervais Live(Stand up comedy) alone. Then go straight home jump into bed and play a few records. It's all I ever want to do on my bday and granted still feel sad on my birthdays but the I've been doing the bed n record player routine for a handful of birthdays and slowly but surely, I always feel a little happier every time I do it. But anyway thank you for this article :)

Noelle on June 21, 2017:

It's my birthday today. 18. Thank you for writing this :-)

Noelle on June 21, 2017:

Thank you.

abutterflyloves on June 17, 2017:

I wonder how many lives you have saved with this post? Thank you. 45 today. Very sad.

Hannah on June 13, 2017:

You made me cry more

Lois on May 29, 2017:

The last words my mum said to me were on my 46th birthday - "oh dear, is it your birthday today?" She was in her last moments of leaving me after 10 years of fighting Leukaemia and I was by her bedside in a hospice. She went to sleep after those words with all kinds of exhaustion, so I went home (also emotionally exhausted) that evening, intending to see her the next day and received a call at 4.16am the next day, saying she had passed on. Since then, the run up to my birthday has been unbearable - I cant stand to feel all those feelings again. I am an emotional wreck a few days before the day, on the day and the day after. I'm now 55 (today) and would like to choose another 'secret' birthday and just avoid May and my birthday...:( oh well. xx

Kanika on May 18, 2017:

I thank you so much for this, my birthday is very close and that is exactly how I feel I thank u soo very much!

Caelina on May 07, 2017:

Not my birthday yet but I managed to cry beforehand just thinking about it, haha... But I'm glad I found this article, some of those tips are definitely worth trying.

Maria on May 06, 2017:

Thanks for the wonderful article!! I always thought I was alone on this but now I can see that I'm not. That in itself will make me feel better on my birthday :-)

DD on April 24, 2017:

I'm turning 40 tomorrow, April 25th. I have been feeling really down and bad about myself all day. I have a twin, so we share the birthday. This year we were supposed to take a big trip to celebrate. Well, that went down the tube. None of my friends have time to celebrate, which makes me sad. It's all very anticlimactic! Thanks for writing this article. It helps me out and that world, "expectation," is very accurate!

Jewel on April 15, 2017:

Yes today is my birthday, and it was a big disappointment in many ways. The person whom I thought might show they care, forgot it was my birthday, and I had to remind them. Eventually showed up with some broken free things he got, and I got a small card. Heard from a couple family members. Whoop dee ding. I love this article though, cheered me up. Thanks Jen.

Tikz on March 31, 2017:

Thanks a lot. My birthday is coming in a few weeks and I had started to getting depressed from the past few weeks. Iam really glad I came across this website.

TGB on March 21, 2017:

Thank you, I really needed these words today.

Mecca on March 01, 2017:

Today I turned 15 and I wish I would've seen this post earlier... :(

A on February 01, 2017:

Thank you for the post. Yesterday it was my 18th birthday and I was very depressed because I feel like nothing has changed for about 5 years and that I'm not living the life I'd like to live. But at the same time I feel like I should be happy because I have a family, a house, a dog... and that makes me even more depressed. I feel as if I don't have 'real friends', all I have is people I know. I don't have close friends, because all friends are just douchebags. They do things I don't like, they talk behind my back, they complain all the time... It's awful... What's more, I'm very stressed because of exams... I have study almost every day and it's horrible... Also, I feel rejected from new people I meet for the first time... I'm very bad at socialising, actually. I've been thinking about killing myself many times over the last 2 years but I haven't had guts...

Noah Nowicki on January 29, 2017:

My 12th birthday party was not that bad.But, only 1 friend came and I only got 1 present.The reason it was depressing is because it was the last year before I become a teen.

hailey on January 26, 2017:

i am 9 today and people in my 4rth grade class are trying to give me things for a extra cup is realy bad when 21 students want 2 cupcakes and i only have 24 plus teachers son. thank you

Emily on January 26, 2017:

Its my 18th today, and I had the expectations it was going to be special and fun, but it wasn't. My family threw a surprise party that had nothing to do with me. It was also terrible waiting for it to happen because I knew before hand. They planned it overnight. When I showed up, it was the worst party ever. None of my friends were there, and I was allergic to everything except for the pretzels. It seems people care more about THEIR personal enjoyment then YOURS on your birthday. I left early, went home and cried myself to sleep, typical birthday for me. Expectations are everything... I should have never thought that my 18th birthday would have been special or even enjoyable, then maybe it would have been okay :)

James on January 25, 2017:

I read a lot of the other comments and thought I would chime in. I am going to be 36 on Sunday and the article mentioning expectations really hit the nail on the head for me. Birthdays are supposed to be a special occasion, or so we are told. Since I have grown older a lot of my friends now have commitments in their life and are just busy people... too busy, and also I think disinterested, in organising anything in advance.

I was blessed to have a better group of friends in my younger years and did go raving with all the birthday trimmings for my 18th birthday and some others. Now though, I realise that I am only able to count on myself and need to begin placing less importance on the external validation of others.

My birthday is on Sunday and if no-one has organised anything by Saturday then I will go to London and find the best place to party, right through to the after party! I have not done this alone on a birthday before, but have done a few times alone by myself. The best advice another lone raver gave me was: if anyone else asks where are your friends, you can straight-face them saying 'i don't have any friends' and I guarantee you they will just laugh and say you're being silly. I did this... and do you know what? The other person said 'well now I'm your friend' and we walked round arm in arm all night.... how blessed!

Nerissa on January 05, 2017:

Today I'm 32 and for a long while from my teens to adulthood to date I am always depressed on my birthday. I've had maybe two good days and I'm not trying to be ungrateful but I lost my mom at 22 and ever since it feels even more lonely the older I get when this day comes around.

Mesha on December 23, 2016:

Hi there, from read this. I understand why I get so sad on my birthday, my grandparents always when out their way to make my birthday special. Now that my grandmother has passed a adult I expect other people to do the same...but the phrase lower your expectations, I love it...I'm the only one who can celebrate me.I mean it is my why am I waiting for somthing from other people.but in true form its sad when your husband or daughter(22) gives this dry happy birthday....all I won't is a nice cooked breakfast or later a cooked other thing was said...scheduled things to do on your birthday.I'm making myself a promise next year.I'm going to do just that.I'm going to continue what my gmother started by self lifting me on my special day....happy birthday mesha you awesome at 41.. My baby girl gave me 41 hugs today.I loved every one. thanks I feel much better.

Doc on December 14, 2016:

What empty platitudes these are. Birthdays are not fun and have never been fun. We are fooled into thinking their fun. Know what a birthday really is? A mark that comes every year to let you know that another 365 days of your limited existence are gone. Welcome to reality, sad but true.

Snow on December 13, 2016:

It's my 18th bday in a couple of days and I had so many expectations because my mother said that we will have a big party. I was really excited but 10 days before my birthday my mother says take your frnds out somewhere and celebrate but my 'frnds' are not at all interested. So I have decided not to celebrate my birthday at all but it still hurts a lot knowing that I will be at home doing nothing on such special day. Today is 14th and I don't want 17th December to come because it will be my birthday and I will crying all day.

Nov 30 on November 30, 2016:

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

Anon on November 23, 2016:

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

Anon on November 21, 2016:

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.

Nin Styles on November 20, 2016:

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.

Veronica on November 17, 2016:

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"!

Kyan on November 15, 2016:

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!

K on November 09, 2016:

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.

Amy Washington on November 05, 2016:

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.

Jan on November 04, 2016:

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!

Jj on October 25, 2016:

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!!

Jen on October 24, 2016:

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 :)

Vaishali on October 18, 2016:

Your article really motivated me..

Steven on October 18, 2016:

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!

Isabella on September 24, 2016:

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.

Ivy on September 21, 2016:

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

Caroline on September 13, 2016:

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.

C on August 28, 2016:

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.

Daniel on August 19, 2016:

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.

Michelle on August 17, 2016:

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.


Aydan on August 16, 2016:

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

Alix on July 25, 2016:

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?

Tonberry on July 18, 2016:

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

Alex on June 28, 2016:

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

Sonali on June 27, 2016:

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.

rayya on June 26, 2016:

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

old on June 22, 2016:

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

Nday on June 09, 2016:

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.

Bruce on June 02, 2016:

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.

Rebekah on May 29, 2016:

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!

Clayton on May 27, 2016:

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.

Lorraine Bonfante on May 17, 2016:

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

Zara on May 17, 2016:

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 :)

Christian Mills on May 17, 2016:

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.

Alison on May 07, 2016:

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.

Rich on April 28, 2016:

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.

Megan on April 19, 2016:

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.

Milllie on April 17, 2016:

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?

Nasim on April 13, 2016:

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...

Margie Sims on March 07, 2016:

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?

the depressed on February 11, 2016:

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 :/

Annabella on February 08, 2016:

Wonderfully written and great advice.

Abhinav on January 27, 2016:

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.

Sp on December 20, 2015:

Happy birthday .... No such things

JJ on December 10, 2015:

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. :(

Raine on December 10, 2015:

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.

PKeysing on December 10, 2015:

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:/.

Angie I. on November 22, 2015:

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?

s on November 21, 2015:

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.

Lucie on November 18, 2015:

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.

Kirst on October 29, 2015:

Best wishes Emi

Emi on October 26, 2015:

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.

John on October 05, 2015:

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