So I turned 30 recently. I’ve never really been a fan of birthdays as they tend to remind me how long I’ve been ill, around 19 years now, more than half my life. Time is a funny thing and it seems even more melancholy when you’re ill. All those milestones everyone assumes just happen often don’t, or they happen in convoluted ways. The whole school uni job career marriage kids thing that seems so ‘normal’ becomes impossible or at least very tricky. You see everyone else rush off and do all these things almost by default and you’re just stuck. You feel like you’re in stasis but time is still passing, you’re getting older, the world’s going on and on but you’re just there; existing in a wallpapery sort of fashion.
Things start off with everyone saying stuff like ‘when you’re better’ then after a few years you realise that might never happen so people stop mentioning it. Due the cult of misguided ‘positive thinking’ in our society things like ‘well what if I never get better?’ are often ignored and you learn to not mention it or at least not mention it too much. You feel like you can’t really discuss it openly and it’s certainly not accepted to discuss it at the marathon lengths others discuss pensions, property and career ‘ladders’ and all the other more acceptable ‘worries about the future’ stuff that eats up column inches and politicians pander to. You’re supposed to have ‘aspirations’ and plans not be worrying if you can cope with the basics of everyday life. The whole planning for the future thing is even more terrifying, it’s not about mortgages or kids or any sort of bloody ladder or long term investments or upsizing or downsizing; it’s about ‘what the hell am I gonna do if I can never work enough to support myself?’ and ‘how the hell am I supposed to look after my parents when they get older if I can’t look after myself?’. On the plus side the likelihood I’ll ever earn enough to even start paying off my student loan is slim.
It seems this positive thinking lark is often for the ease of the people around you, avoiding facing up to the harsh reality that life can sometimes be utterly shit. I’ve always been known as a bit if a gloomy soul, maybe it’s because I was ill at a young age? Or perhaps I’m just naturally miserable and Eeyoreish. The donkey is wise indeed:
“Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it.”.