I’m typing this up as a page so that it can be shared with relevant folks and I can be reminded of it in the future.
There’s gonna be trauma talk and possibly triggering things ahead, for those who would like that warning
I turned 37 yesterday. Birthdays to me have almost always just been another day. Growing up there weren’t a lot of parties or celebrations due to my parents being… well, not good parents. As I grew older, it became default to just treat it as any other day. Combine that with growing depression, anxiety, rejection sensitive dysphoria, and a host of other mental health issues and it went from just another day to a downright bad one most times.
Then the pandemic hit and it just got worse. Now there was no chance of seeing anyone, doing anything special, because as much as I like presents, Covid doesn’t come with a gift receipt.
This year, things felt a little different. I’ve been in therapy for years, but I started with a new therapist and while my birthday hasn’t been brought up, the topic of burn out and finding things to make me happy have been frequent discussions. While watching a friend stream on Twitch (Mark), who has a birthday shortly after mine, something made me consider treating this year not like a normal birthday, but certainly a more normal one. So instead of hiding and not acknowledging it, I made it a thing. Not a big deal, but not nothing. I asked Mark how to go about asking for things and noting a special event without seeming like you’re being greedy or guilty. I suffer from a lot of guilt and shame when it comes to asking for help.
He said it was a good question, but not one he knew an answer for. While he was streaming, I asked if I could be selfish, because that’s the only word that fits asking for things in my (admittedly fucked up) brain. He said he’d make sure it gets noticed and boy howdy did he follow through. The term Kensday (as opposed to Wednesday) got thrown out there and he let me pick the game he played on my birthday. He also said many, many wonderful things about me, as did many other folks in the community that he’s fostered.
Many folks I’ve never met in person sent presents through Amazon and Steam, and… I don’t have words. Accepting gifts is rough for me, for a number of reasons. My mind was flittering between feeling shame and guilt versus feeling loved and noticed. I can’t say that I liked how it felt, but it was certainly better than the usual depression spiral.
So, thank you to Amberle, Benny, Chris, Eric, Jax, Josh, Kate, Mark, Michael, Mike, Nikki, Rae, and Tim. You all went above and beyond and made me feel warm fuzzies I haven’t in quite a while. If I’ve forgotten you, please know the my brain has been through a lot in the last few days, so a gentle nudge would be appreciated as I don’t want anyone to feel left out.
To everyone else who chatted with me, hung out on stream, and was just there for me yesterday, thank you as well. The presents are nice, but having friends to interact with while I’m at one of the lowest mental points I’ve been in quite some time meant more than you can imagine.
Feelings are hard for me, being one of those kids who “grew up fast” because I had to as a defense mechanism. Feelings don’t make sense, they confuse me and frequently irritate me. But yesterday I felt loved and it means so so so much.
I love you all.