Depression and Turning 40

March 4, 2013 · 29 comments

in Musings, Wellness, What I Wore

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My 40th birthday started off pretty much like any other day. I swatted the snooze bar on my alarm clock 20 x’s and would have probably gone for a record 30 if the “happy birthday” phone calls didn’t start rolling in.  After the last phone call, I made my way to the shower, got  dressed and headed out for appointments. I had agreed to a little get together that was being organized and hosted by my aunts that evening and I wanted to look pretty for my big day. My first stop was at the Dominican salon followed by a stop at Sephora to get my makeup done.  All was normal and went as planned. I went home, and got dressed an hour earlier than I was supposed to. I fixed myself a snack and sat down to pass the hour. As I lifted my guava jelly and butter smothered cracker to my mouth, that’s when it dawned on me that I was 40. 

Turning 40 meant that I was now officially “middle aged” a label I am not at all fond of. With the average life expectancy of 75 in America I started thinking that most of my life was already over. As I sat there,  I looked back at what I had accomplished, wondering if I had made best use of my last 18 years and wondering if I was a little too late to address and go after those other goals that have been on my list for far too long. I thought about my weight,  the masters degree and that I never traveled anywhere outside of North America. I thought about my parents… Now that I was 40 this meant that they were getting closer to their own average life expectancy. I thought about my blog, and my dating life and wondered how either of them would survive in this culture that celebrates youth. These thoughts stayed with me as I made the long drive to my aunts house.  They were compounded when I walked in and saw the “40″ confetti and decorations in her living room and honestly, I almost fainted when she thrust the 40 tiara on my head.

I must have been the quietest birthday girl ever, that night.  The food, the champagne, the smiling faces, great company, nor the over proofed laced rum cake pulled me out of my introspection. I went home and cried and spent the rest of the weekend mad at myself that the realization of turning 40 had made me so sad that I couldn’t even enjoy my own night.

Days turned into a week and when weeks almost turned into an entire month I took steps to pull out of the funk. First and foremost I started to talk about how I was feeling and discovered that my feelings were not unique. Little by little, I’ve started to chip away at all of the things that were bothering me about being 40. First and foremost I decided that I made great use of my time these last 18 years and I am very proud of all of my accomplishments. I bought one of those 90-day tv advertised exercise programs and I am getting ready to start week 3 of the 12 week program.  I am down from 172 to 167 and will probably continue to shed the pounds if I can steer clear of my family and their scrumptious offerings. Speaking of family, I had that difficult discussion with the parents.  I’ve accepted that there are certain things that I can no longer do such as join any of the military branches to serve my country, not even the National Guards and also that I probably shouldn’t do certain things such as wearing mini skirts or crop tops (maybe in another 15 pounds or so).  I started looking into travel plans and found a really great tour that will take me through several countries in Europe. It looks like I will be solo on my trip though and I’ve accepted that. As far as my blog is concerned, I am not hiding my age or pretending that I am 10-years younger.  I still look “youthful” and I am hoping that I can be an inspiration to the next woman who is approaching her 40th.

Here is some advice for those women who are approaching 40.

Advice for young women

Your early years are shaped by your parents. My advice is to listen and learn.  Don’t be in a rush to grow old or to take on adult responsibilities. Once you get them there is no point of return.

Advice for women in their 20′s

Go to college. Get it out of the way.  I don’t think its just enough to travel.  Live abroad, for a year or two, preferably right out of college. That experience (good or bad) is something that you will have forever. Have careful responsible fun and address and deal with any “issues” that surface in your 20′s.  Take care of your bodies and say no to procrastination.

Advice for women in your 30′s

Now that you spent the last 8 years addressing your curiosity and your issues, your 30′s is the best time to plant your roots. Meet someone, marry buy a house, have kids if you chose to; go back to school and get your masters or a second degree in something that you now know that you are best suited for.  I can’t stress this enough, take care of your bodies and don’t procrastinate.

 XoXo, Natasha

 

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Annette September 25, 2014 at 3:55 pm

Hi Natasha, I stumbled upon your article today. I’m turning 40 in a week and all I can think about are the negatives. This sucks, that sucks. blah blah blah. It was so nice to read and have someone say to go back and focus on what you’ve accomplished. I am in a total depressed funk and you made me laugh and try to think differently. So thank you…

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Natasha September 28, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Hi Annette. You are very welcome and I am glad you found this post helpful. It gets better. Hang in there and Happy Birthday.

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Rebecca June 1, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Wow! Great message Natasha! I will turn 40 in 4 days, I am totally in a funk :( I’ve decided I don’t want any celebration. Just want to get thru it quietly. I just opened all the birthday cards that I received and was saving for the official day. Thank God I did!! They all have the big 40 on them and It would have made me ball to see this on my birthday… Ugh!! Beautiful messages and greetings from loved ones but I don’t need to see 40 in bold print!! It’s awful. Feeling so sad today and stressed. I’ve eaten 2 chocolate bars:( no gym for 3 days:(.
I think I need to put pen to paper as you have and figure this out… Big sigh. I hate this birthday!!!! It sucks!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I can relate 100%!

Rebecca

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JJ April 19, 2014 at 6:33 pm

Wow. I needed to read this. I’m turning 40 on 6 Jul 2014, and while I felt like I had permission to have unfinished business when I turned 30, this time I feel as if there’s just no excuse for it. I’m a very devoted and loyal child to my parents, who I honestly can’t imagine going on without them. I’ve wanted to move to another part of Canada for a while, but as I’m the only child really (my sisters who are twins are 17 years older than I, and aren’t very reliable).

I’m gay. I never had kids. I never fell in love. That was reality for me at 20 and even then I knew the chances of finding romance were a long shot. I feel robbed of those years where you get to explore what it’s like to have grown up relationships and prepare for someone serious to share your life with. I feel that, by 40, if nothing’s happened, I no longer have the interest in looking for anyone. I never had any role modeling or mentors, so I’m not sure how I’m supposed to dress and act at 40. These are all things I didn’t care about or think of at 30. I do remember my psych professor in university say that the majority of us will experience our best moments and most productive years between 38-42. Somehow that’s not been my experience. It’s really hard to get motivated about doing and being my best when I know I will return to a studio apartment alone, as I always have. I have nobody to impress, and nobody to judge me. Which is nice, but I feel I could’ve been a lot more with some encouragement. Somewhere along the way I just didn’t care anymore. I’d always wanted to find love and feel I was a part of someone’s plan, and when you realize those things aren’t going to happen, all the other things you’re doing kind of go out the window. I don’t feel like being financially successful. The only person I support is me. If I want to go somewhere for a week I do just that. But I didn’t plan on being alone forever, and there’s something about turning 40 that finalizes that. If whatever you hoped for as a young adult didn’t happen, then it’s probably not going to happen now.

I suspect turning 40 requires a new mindset and a more stable personality. I’m just not sure how to get there. It’s still very strange to type out my name and add ’40′ to it. I don’t feel or look it, and I get a little mad because I missed out on so many things, so I can’t say that I’m fine with turning 40 because I got all the exploring and experimenting out of the way. I really hope I’m not the only one who feels like this!

JJ in Toronto

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Dawn January 11, 2014 at 11:10 am

This was/is so true. I am 40 tomorrow and I am feeling it. From 33 till now has been very painful for me. Hopefully, my 40′s will be very different.. :)

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Natasha January 15, 2014 at 11:06 pm

Hi Dawn.

I am so sorry to hear that you had such a rough time approaching 40. (Happy belated birthday by the way!!!). Seven years is a very long time to feel this way and I sincerely hope that you will be able to find peace and happiness within yourself. Please make use of every available resource available to you including a therapist if need be. Here are some words from my New Year’s post that I hope will inspire you to embrace your 40′s and your life.

“There were some really rough spots during 2013, but it ended up being one of my best years by far. I believe that we all possess that thing that allows us to change the course of things to a certain extent.h that said, I vow to never again end any year by looking back at it with disgust and/or regret! If things or situations get bad I am going to remember that that thing is temporary and that it will pass. When people piss me off, I will no longer allow them to take my power to change my emotional state or well being. If I am feeling bored I am not going to sit back and allow that feeling to consume me. If I don’t feel like I am making progress I will stop just long enough to evaluate why things are not moving, fix it and move ahead.”

All the best,
Natasha

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Cali August 28, 2013 at 11:34 am

Thanks. I thought your advice was written. I am turning 40 in 3 weeks and amazing sad about it. Thanks for the great advice.

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Natasha August 28, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Hi Cali, thanks so much for stopping by and for leaving your comment. I understand what you are going through and just know that it’s ok to use this time for reflection. Just remember to focus on your accomplishments. All of the things you didn’t do yet or thought that you didn’t have time to do, make plans for them. It’s never too late! By the way, except for my grays which I’ve allowed to sprout wildly and inability to wear heels for a long time, 40 doesn’t feel much different than 39. Well, except to feel wiser and more confident. The feeling will come, trust me on this.

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WendyB March 19, 2013 at 8:16 pm

Happy belated birthday. Always feel free to console yourself with the fact that I’m older than you! I can’t say I love thinking of the number “45″ in relation to myself. It’s like “OMG! That’s my MOTHER!” So it definitely depresses me at times. That said, my 40s have really been my best decade, in part because I decided there isn’t time to waste. It was one thing to sit and daydream and fritter away time in my 20s, but now I figure if I want to do something, I should actually get off my ass and do it! I mean, why not? What am I waiting for? I’m definitely a lot bolder than I was in my 20s in a lot of ways.
WendyB recently posted..What Wendy Wore: Leopard-Print DVF From 2002My Profile

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miss donna
Twitter:
March 8, 2013 at 9:22 pm

happy belated birthday, Natasha. i’m glad you’re feeling better and you’ve come to terms with where you are in life and more importantly, have a strong understanding of where you’re going. i admire you for being able to share your true emotions so openly and honestly. can’t wait to hear all about your travels abroad!!
miss donna recently posted..keep the change | $20 budget – Jan. & Feb.My Profile

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Natasha March 8, 2013 at 10:05 pm

Thanks Donna. I am in the process of renewing my passport just for this purpose so its definitely in motion but not until the end of the year. (-:

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Dixie March 8, 2013 at 7:32 pm

Natasha! you look marvelous. Absolutely nothing to be stressed about. Keep doing what you’re doing. Your advice is right on and amazing…xo
Dixie recently posted..Currently LovingMy Profile

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Natasha March 8, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Thanks. (-:

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Gillian Stephen (
Twitter:
March 8, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Hi Natasha, Sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy your 40th birthday but happy that you’ve been able to turn it around and take on board the positive aspects. Can I also add that you’ve achieved one of your objectives of inspiring me as I approach my 40th, so thank you and Happy Belated Birthday.

Fitnessbuster Supporting you in getting your fitness and nutrition back on track
Gillian Stephen ( recently posted..Focus on Health on Women’s International DayMy Profile

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Natasha March 8, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Hi Gillian,
Thanks so much for reading and for sharing this on twitter. I am glad that I was able to inspire you. (-:

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Andrea March 5, 2013 at 5:32 pm

I guess I haven’t reached 40 yet because I didn’t go through all that! Live each day as it comes. After all the date is just a formality because from the day we are born we start aging. It’s inevitable. Maybe when I hit 50 or 60 I will go into deep depression or just awaken the cougar within.

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Natasha March 5, 2013 at 6:57 pm

Thanks Andrea. You are one of the lucky few who did not or is not experiencing middle age depression. (-:

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Fran March 5, 2013 at 1:08 am

Being 40 is awesome, so don’t be scared of it. Embrace it! You have more wisdom than you had in your youth, and you are still physically able to do all the things you want to do. I just love being in my forties, I have more gratitude, more determination, I love me more and I am more determined to live each day to the fullest. So Happy Amazing Fortieth Birthday!

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Natasha March 5, 2013 at 6:56 pm

Hi Fran,
Thanks for your words of encouragement and the belated birthday greetings. I am actually embracing it, in a positive way. (-:

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BeautyStyleGrowth
Twitter:
March 4, 2013 at 5:53 pm

You still look good for 40. 40 is the new 30!
Happy birthday
BeautyStyleGrowth recently posted..Blue LegsMy Profile

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Natasha March 4, 2013 at 11:21 pm

Thank you and you are right, 40 is really the new 30. (-:

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The Good Will Hunting Paralegal
Twitter:
March 4, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Aw, Natasha, I wish I’d seen this sooner! 40 is not the kiss of death. I just turned 50 last month, and I feel really good about it. Yes, I haven’t done everything I’ve wanted to do in my life, but I’m chipping away at that Bucket List, including apologizing to those I have hurt, on purpose or by accident :/

You look 28, sweetie. Also, I like traveling alone. Then I don’t have to please anyone else.

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Natasha March 4, 2013 at 11:20 pm

Hi Lynne. You don’t look anything at all like the 50 year old image that I have in my head. For a little while I actually thought you were younger than me. I am so glad that you are open about your age. When I look at you, I see hope for myself. (-: My last solo trip was to Mexico. I was ok with being alone during the day time. I was on my own schedule and there was a lot to see and do. Nights were more difficult. I actually put on my superwoman hat and boldly went to a nightclub when I was there. (Ok, I wasn’t really bold, I took a cab one block to the club) It was a circus (trapeze artist and all) so it was really easy to be a alone there. However, I somehow found myself in this group of people and we ended up hanging out all night. I wanted to go to Senor Frogs, but if you are familiar with that entity its not the best place to be solo. I am going to travel to Europe and maybe even Morocco by myself though. Tired of waiting to find someone who has my same similar interest.

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Frannie Pantz March 4, 2013 at 10:55 am

First of all Natasha, I am so proud of you for this post! It is so amazing for you to share this with us. And congrats on the weight loss! It’s so hard for us, especially as women, to come to terms with age. I had a mini-breakdown (totally unexpectedly) when I turned 30. But you are still young and you look fantastic and you have your health and both of your parents. Everything else will come as it is ready to. I’m glad that you are being good to yourself! That is very important! And happy belated birthday!
Frannie Pantz recently posted..Keepin’ it Simple with eShaktiMy Profile

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Natasha March 4, 2013 at 11:08 pm

Hi Robin.
I am Jamaican as you know and “depression” is not a word that we like to say out loud so sharing this and using the words that I did was really not easy for me. I also had a breakdown at 30 (it didn’t last as long as this one) but after experiencing that I thought for sure that I was doing the carpe diem thing. I think it really depends on what expectations we set for ourselves earlier in life and where we are with those goals when we reach the appointed benchmark. I think it’s important for us to set goals (we need things to aspire to and accomplish) but I think I should have included “be flexible with your goals” in my advice to women on their way to 40. That way, we don’t be ourselves up when we turn 30 or 40. (-:

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SouthFlaCutie March 4, 2013 at 10:46 am

OMG! So why was I able to TOTALLY relate to this post!??!?! I turned 40 last year October, and spent the ENTIRE day (in bed) crying my eyes out. Looking back on that day (actually the entire week), I was so busy focusing on what I had not accomplished or experienced that I couldn’t enjoy that special ONCE in a lifetime birthday. Slowly but shortly, I came out of my funk and began to look at all I had accomplished and how GRATEFUL I should be for all of my blessings…(Masters @ 30, homewoner @ 35).
My advice for anyone turning 40….start LIVING!! That is my GOAL in 2013! Enjoy the ride, Natasha! It will get better……

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Natasha March 4, 2013 at 10:55 pm

Thanks so much for your kind words and for admitting that you also totally freaked out. (-: After talking with a close friend, I actually ended up making a list of my accomplishments. Yep, pen and paper. I actually had to do that. Once I got passed that stage, I started focusing on the other things that wanted to do. I am so happy that you were focused and ready to go back for your masters at 30. I am looking to change careers so the masters degree is a bit down the road for me. I am trying to get the travel thing done though. I’ve been itching to do so for a long time now. Hopefully by the end of this year. And you are right, you have to really LIVE EACH DAY as if if it is your last!!!

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Mocha Gypsy March 4, 2013 at 10:11 am

You’re 40, not 85… the game’s not over yet! Still a lot of living to do and a life to build. ;)

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Natasha March 4, 2013 at 10:44 pm

That’s so true. And even when I am 85, the game still will not be over.

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