It’s a Happy Birthday to Me

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2013 Nancy Virden

MB900384809Clutching the broad banister with tiny fingers and sporting new spring pajamas, I climbed down the tall staircase my birthday morning. I was 5 years old.

Oblivious to anything except wondering what presents might be waiting, I did not look into the Living Room below until I reached a landing. There I froze.

Seated on the edge of our couch, her legs swinging, looking up at me with big blue eyes was my best friend, Amy.  Next to her were my grandfather and grandmother from across town. It was unusual for them to be in our home as typically we spent Saturdays on their country property.  Trying to take all this in, my eyes landed on the biggest surprise, my great-grandma from California. 

Thoughts whirled. Why would they all be here for me? My mom invited me to continue downstairs; the rest is lost to memory.  I still react with some shock when people go out of their way for me. However, not this year’s birthday! 

Last year at this time, I was still in recovery from the worst Major Depressive episode I had ever experienced. Only 16 months earlier I had attempted suicide.  Dark thoughts had continued to rule until the day after my birthday. At some point that evening, the Lord met with me. He had been patient and tender throughout my ordeal, but this night he told me it was time to face forward and not look back anymore. 

That is when I made a deliberate decision. My goal became to learn how to enjoy life,  and to see what that means.  May 1, 2012, is when I was finally willing, with a full heart, to thank the psychologist whose phone call saved my life.

Since then, I have combatted negative thoughts with every tool I know. New skills, new thought processes, new focus, all have kept me busy and able to face one of the most difficult years I have lived.  Thoughts of despair were held at bay. Old habits like isolating were defeated more often than not.  The simple yet uneasy decision to not only yield to God’s timeline but to act like it, made all the difference.

An appreciation for life as a gift is budding.  God is good all the time. He chose to give me another birthday. Since this is his decision, I choose to join him in it and enjoy the well-wishes, gifts, and happy surprises he has brought my way.

It’s a happy birthday to me.


NOTE: I am not a trained or licensed mental health professional. I am not a doctor. I speak only from my experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

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