My twenty third birthday was spent crying my eyes out. My neighbours could hear me bawling from the floor below and left a concerned note on my door. I was still in the super fun trial and error phase of my bipolar treatment, so I was withdrawing from the medication that was destroying my kidneys, and starting a new medication that made me feel like I was underwater. I had also just been dumped, my cat had died, my band of six years was falling apart, and my sister’s boyfriend had just told me he thought Paul Simon was racist. Some of those things were more devastating than others, but my underwater brain couldn’t handle all of it at once. I cancelled my birthday party and slept for approximately a month.
The year that followed felt like a giant step backwards. I cancelled my summer tour, I stopped playing shows, and I walked away from the band that I thought of as “my life”. I worried about turning twenty four and having nothing to show for it. I had no new albums to release, no big tours under my belt, nothing to prove to other people that I was moving forward. I signed up for music school almost entirely because I needed something to say when I ran into acquaintances, especially other musicians. They would ask me how my band was, and I would say I was taking a break and going to music school. This was an entirely respectable reason to have no shows and no albums and no cool stop-motion music videos on the go. It was also an expensive and incredibly time consuming reason, but still, it was better than admitting I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING.
Of course, the inevitable happened, and this week I turned another year older. My twenty-fourth birthday was quite different from the one before it. I didn’t cry once. My neighbours left another note on my door, but this time it was about my squeaking bed frame (excuse me while I go DIE from embarrassment). I think I have a lot to show for the past year of my life. I’ve written strange new songs. I’ve made new friends and reconciled with old ones. I’ve got pills that make my brain work properly (almost). I’m less afraid of being alone. I think I’ve finally realized that it doesn’t matter what my life looks like to people on the outside. I’m the one who has to live it.