For a long while, I thought that the pure fact of wishing someone a happy birthday on Facebook would save the world.
Stick with me here.
I've been living with depression for quite some time now - over two decades. I haven't really known it was depression the whole time, but it was there. As part of this journey, there are times when I feel like the world would be better if I wasn't around, or that I make minimal to little impact in the world or in the lives of those around me.
When these thoughts come into my mind, it can be hard me not to believe them. If you know me IRL, this might not match up with your perspective of who I am. I get it. I have high-functioning depression, so I'm really good at putting on a mask and playing the role society wants from me.**
Anyway, back to the birthdays.
These thoughts of worthlessness come into my mind, especially after a fall. Not a fall where I skin my knees or break a bone, but a life fall. A fall like losing my job, or having a relationship dissolve in front of my eyes, or just life stuff and things that don't turn out like I was thinking they would.
When this used to happen, I would be obsessed with wishing people happy birthday on Facebook. I would be convinced that by wishing someone happy birthday, this would put me in their mind for a moment and they would be thinking of me. And that's what I needed - people to care. I also rationalized this to the point where I was like, "I'm sending good vibes out into the universe and that's going to just make the whole world better. If I miss someone's birthday the chain is going to be broken and then bad things will happen." Yeah, depression is really fun, y'all.
I totally understand if at this point you are saying, "Marissa, that's totally selfish."
And if you are, on one hand, you're totally correct. I was using your birthday for my own personal coping mechanism - and for that, I apologize. At the time, I had no idea that is what I was doing. The feelings of wishing you happy birthday were true. I just turned it into a win-win for my own purposes, and that's not cool.
Now that I know this about myself, I'm trying to be really intentional with my birthday wishes and/or life event celebrations - be them on social media or in real life.
If I don't say happy birthday, that doesn't mean that I'm not wishing you a happy birthday. I'm just doing so without the world knowing.
I am grateful that everyone was born because of the ripple effect their existence has had in my life.*** It just means that I'm still working on my stuff.
*Or other "life event" on social media.
** This is a whole other post.
*** This sounds like a motivational quote with a fancy background. However, it is sincere from me.