40 is Hard!

birthday feelings

Ok friends, this is a different type of post for me, but I think it’s needed. If you’ve followed me for a while, or even if you’re a new follower, you may know that I turned 40 recently. I talked about turning 40 in a past post – Coming into Your Own – and those thoughts and feelings were certainly real. Well, after turning 40, I had some more thoughts and feelings. . .

The week after my birthday, I got depressed. Like really depressed. In the last post about hitting this milestone birthday, I talked about all the things I had learned and what I still needed to learn. What I didn’t realize was that turning 40 would make me feel so much. As soon as I got home from my surprise birthday weekend getaway, I started to feel my anxiety heighten and saw my triggers creeping up. Because I have anxiety and depression, I have paid attention to my triggers for a very, very, long time. I started to cry daily, I was snappy and would be quick to get angry and didn’t want to do the things I loved to do, like workout with my husband. When I noticed these triggers, I knew something was coming. I started to feel like a failure.

Why did I feel like a failure?

I started to hear lots of voices come into my head. I heard the people that said “Why don’t you have kids? When are you going to have kids?” Trust me, I’m reminded about the choice my husband and I made to not have kids early on in our marriage constantly. We chose to have some time for fun, travel and enjoy life. Maybe we paid the price, maybe we didn’t. We love our nieces and nephews, we feel young, act young and look young, but it I wonder. Did we lose our chance?

Other things came up too. . .

  • I live in New England and hate the winter so I’ve always wished to live in a warmer climate.
  • I still have debt. Not much, but I’m not financially free yet.
  • Despite not having kids, I’m about 20lbs overweight.
  • I haven’t traveled to Greece, England, Ireland or Italy. Thanks COVID.
  • I’m not super successful. . .whatever that means.

These negative thoughts kept coming at me over and over and over again. Imagine you’re in a room with no windows and one door. These negative thoughts come at you like one knock on the door, then two knocks, then five knocks, then 12 and it increases over time. That is what depression feels like to me. It’s the repetitive, negative thoughts banging on that door to the consciousness. The week after my birthday, I felt like I was in that room all day, every day.

But I snapped out of it. . .

Even though my husband tried, I couldn’t come out of it until one day when I was getting ready for work. I was going through my normal routine of getting dressed, brushing my teeth and washing my face when I looked at my bathroom mirror. On that mirror are Post-it notes. These notes have quotes and saying on them that are there to make me smile, laugh, motivate me and inspire me. Here’s a pic of what my mirror looks like today.

I saw a few that did their job.

  1. “I win or I learn, but I never lose.” Marie Forleo
  2. “You can only change two things – your actions and your attitude.
  3. “Just because my dreams are different from yours doesn’t mean they’re not important.” Meg March, Little Women

That last one made me tear up. It made me start sobbing hysterically to the point my husband rushed upstairs because he thought something was wrong. I put these notes here because I know how important of a tool they are. Not only for someone living with anxiety and depression, but anyone that needs a bit of extra motivation.

I’ve been using this trick of putting up notes like this for years and recently, I’m so glad I’ve kept up with it. I don’t add quotes often because in order to go up on that mirror, the quote or saying needs to light a fire in me. Almost like when I read it, fireworks go off somewhere. If that happens, I pull out a Post-it and it goes up on my mirror.

I encourage all my clients to use this trick because it can be so incredibly helpful. Starting every morning by reading positive, inspirational thoughts can be a game changer. The day I snapped out it, it was for me.

Seeing these notes made me realize something. Life is like a mountain and every day is like the climb up that mountain. We may slip and fall because rocks (i.e. challenges) slide out from under our feet. Sometimes we get scrapes and scars (i.e. battle scars) on our skin from the fall. But every step of the way, we are being taught something. We may not know it in the moment, but each and every rock is an opportunity to learn. That climb is a struggle, in and of itself. The view at the top is the reward.

Remember my thought about being super successful? These notes also reminded me that success looks different for everyone. To you, becoming CEO of a major company might be the definition of success. For another, it might be getting married, having 3.5 kids and raising and amazing family. My definition of success is where I am right here and right now. I’ve made it to 40 and let me tell you, reaching 40 is hard.

If you’ve reached a milestone birthday or are coming up on one, I want to remind you that life is hard. If, and possibly when, you start to question your achievements, remember how far you’ve come and that you’ve got so much more to look forward to. Be proud of yourself and all your achievements – both big and small.

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