Happy 29th birthday to me! I used to really hate birthdays. A lot. I guess I’d hype them up so much and then they’d fall short, but then again, things typically seem to fall short when you’re depressed so that could be why all my birthdays in my early 20s were so horrendous. My 21st birthday was spent in the basement of the crappy dive bar in my college town, drinking a pitcher and probably lamenting over my ex-boyfriend to one of my college acquaintances. I don’t even know where my best friends were.
Things sure have changed in the years since then (thank you lawd). A little throwback into my early 20s, just so you all can really get a feel of how great it is that things have changed for the better:
I actually picked this picture because it’s during my most depressed years (18-22- I think I was probably 20 here), when I was close to my lowest weight. I stopped eating when I was depressed because I had no appetite. I think the lowest I got was down to 86 or 87lbs (I’m 5’0″). I looked sick. I was drinking alcohol all the time, not eating food, not sleeping, crying nonstop, calling my ex-boyfriend 90 times a day and driving by his house (cr-a-a-a-zy), using sex as a source of “happiness and control” (doesn’t work), and just being an overall hot mess. I also had a really fugly hair cut. WTF.
Those were some rough years. Surprisingly, I made it through them (there were many times I would have rather killed myself than kept on going). I *gasp* found somebody (eventually, still way down the road) who makes me extremely happy and who really does love me unconditionally (even if it took him a few breakups to realize it). But more importantly, I faked it till I made it and I learned to love and accept myself.
Greece, 2009. Just after my deployment to Iraq.
I stopped worrying about my past boyfriends and focused on nursing school. I traveled the world with friends and started working. I started doing CrossFit and found my jam. I was happier than I had been in years. I evened out my moods and focused on what was really important.
When I first went back to my new gym, CrossFit North Alpharetta, after 6-8 months out of the gym. You can see the weight loss again there. 2011
I think that anybody who has ever experienced depression knows the roller coasters that you go through. I took time off the gym during another low and after a move. I started going out and drinking again, dating guys that were clearly not taking me anywhere (this was during mine and Jon’s breakup), and just being a bit reckless again- but not nearly as bad as my early 20s. Then I found a new CrossFit gym, where I started lifting heavier than ever. I stopped going out. I started spending far too much time with my cat and watching way too many episodes of Sex and the City by myself at home. I even spent one New Year’s Eve with my cat after driving to Atlanta at 10pm and realizing that I didn’t want to hang out with anybody but my cat. Seriously. I wasn’t necessarily depressed at this time, but I was at a flat low. Just blah. No oomph to life. But not bad.
Then I kicked the low again and picked back up being happier. Figuring out who I was after a three year relationship and what I loved about myself again. The gym provided that outlet and also got my weight back on me and just reminded me why I love being fit and healthy. Although I still made some poor dating decisions, I was really happy with myself and those poor decisions weren’t because I was trying to fill some void- it was more for fun that time around. But I wasn’t empty anymore. I knew who I was and what I wanted. I felt good.
And now, as I enter my last year of my 20s, I’m definitely happy. I’ve accomplished a ton. Throughout all those ups and downs, I came out happy, healthy, and successful. Although I swore I’d be married with babies by 25, my life has been more than I expected. I made a 3.6GPA in my undergrad even though I drank for half of it and had no motivation, I got my associate’s in nursing, followed by my bachelor’s, and am now starting grad school in the fall. I’ve been working in the same ER for 5 years next month, with two travel assignments and more job opportunities opening up now. I’ve traveled the US, traveled the world, and I’m not stopping here! I’ve pursued my goals and achieve almost everything I’ve set my mind to. I’ve found a medium with the gym that works for me, without having all these excessive breaks to help keep my moods stable. I married a loving husband who supports me 100%, and he provided me with some really amazing in-laws and nieces and nephews (and I was fortunate to have been around for the beginning of all of their lives). Of course, I have my wonderful family and mom and dad too! I’ve got one hell of a life worth living, and I’m so fortunate to have come so far!
Camel’s Hump, Vermont. 2014
About to hike Mt Katahdin, Maine. 2014
Now, after my 8 hour work day, I’m going to go relax on my couch, all by myself, and watch some trashy TV until I hit the sack in about an hour. And yes, with my cats. Both of them. And I hope they both hang out on the couch with me. And I’m not going to be the least bit sad about spending my 29th birthday in such an uneventful, noncelebratory way.