Today is my birthday.
I’m 28 years old.
Still two years away from being 30 and many more years away from being 40 but still definitely no longer classed as ‘young’ or even ‘early 20s.’
At the moment bucket lists seem to be popular, particularly lists to be completed before 30 or 40th birthdays and although I don’t have one, I do have a vague list of things that I wanted to achieve at least by the time I was 30, if not before. So here is my (not) bucket list.
Own my own house? Check.
Pass my driving test? Check, but there was a time when it looked as though I would never be able to convert my much detested green provisional license into a lovely pink one. It took six years, thousands of pounds worth of driving lessons in three different counties, nine driving tests and innumerable tears, panic attacks and declarations that I just couldn’t do it but this year I will have been driving for three years.
Publish a book? I’m currently in contact with a literary agent who is showing definite interest in the proposal I sent them. Yesterday I emailed them the further material they requested so you never know, this may be a goal that I’m not far off achieving!
Run a marathon? I ran I half marathon about four years ago so I’m halfway there but my weight and fitness at the moment mean I’d probably struggle to run half a mile without completely exhausting myself.
Be a charge nurse on a busy, cutting-edge neonatal unit? I’ve interviewed for sister posts three since returning from maternity leave and five times in total, coming quite close to achieving this goal before I fell pregnant and twice since being back at work. But I’ve been unemployed for a fortnight and I’m having to face the possibility that with my current sickness record due to my mental health, I might not be able to find a neonatal unit of any level that wants to employ me.
Off antidepressants? Although I may be able to start reducing the doses of the two antidepressants I take in combination it’s unlikely that I will ever be able to manage without taking a low dose antidepressant.
Managing my mental health? See above
Reach and maintain the healthy body weight that I was pre-pregnancy? This is a goal that I seem to be moving further and further away from due to my almost addict-like cravings for sugar that spur me to sabotage any healthy eating initiatives I try to put in place. I’ve even tried putting a lock on the kitchen cupboard doors, only carrying a minimal amount of cash and giving all my bank cards to the Northern One. Yet even with these extreme measures in place I’m still finding ways to get my sugar fix. It wouldn’t be so bad if I was satisfied with one biscuit or a few pieces of chocolate but I can consume entire packets of biscuits and whole family sized bars of chocolate without really thinking about it.
Be happy with my appearance and in my own skin? We have mirrors throughout the house and each time I walk past one the little voice that is depression reminds me how ugly and disgusting I am. It points out my increasingly round face, the stretch marks that have appeared in the last few weeks, the way my bra digs into my back and reminds me about the suitcases full of clothes up in the loft that no longer fit. I have never been so lacking in confidence about my appearance and so uncomfortable in my own skin.
Today, however, instead of focusing on goals and berating myself for things I haven’t achieved I am trying to be kind to myself. Squidge is at nursery and I have a day of sleeping in and doing some gentle gardening planned before attending my weekly therapy session. I always forget that February is a shorter month and so tend to overestimate how far away my birthday is which is why it didn’t even occur to me until a few days ago that I had a therapy session booked on my birthday.
While therapy doesn’t sound like the ideal birthday activity and knowing that I will most likely emerge from the session tear-stained and exhausted I also know that I will feel better for having been. It’s also the first step in the right direction to achieving some of the most difficult goals on my (not) bucket list. Attending therapy means that I can spend part of my birthday acquiring the skills to live the next year and the rest of my life the way that I want to, not just the way that I feel is inevitable.
So here’s to another year and hopefully a new chapter in my life where goals are achieved and celebrated, new goals are set and worked towards, and where I still absolutely don’t have a bucket list.
Not a proper one anyway.