Joyeux Anniversaire!

Nobody makes a big deal of 35.

Twenty-five is a quarter century. Thirty and forty are even numbers, 18 and 21 are milestones that everybody should mark. Thirty-five is just another birthday in amongst those special days.

It’s on that cheery note I turn 35 today.

Ten and a half years ago I bought my first home. The number on my home’s front door matches the age I am as of October 18th 2018.

I’m not going to lie and say I made all these great plans on the day I moved in about where I saw myself on this day when my age matches my home number. I did however envisage my life ten years down the line and how that might look.

I was wrong.

First of all, I didn’t see myself living here. I thought we (yes, me and my girlfriend/wife) would have lived here for a couple of years and then moved on to a bigger place. There was also the thought of having a child or two if we were lucky enough.

My Dad was born in October too and in the summer before his 35th birthday, he was posted to Brussels to work for four years, bringing his wife and three children, with me the middle child. (the fourth arrived over there, the Brussels sprout as she hates being referred to!)

We had a joint dinner last week to celebrate Dad’s birthday and mine too. Mam and Dad, elder sister and brother-in-law and the younger two with their partners. I turned up solo.

Arthritis and fibromyalgia have changed my life in many different ways. Last year I wrote an article for the journal.ie in which I stated that I was grateful for arthritis. I stand by that statement as it has made me a more compassionate, understanding and better person.

I have also learnt so many new skills, gone back to college and found a new area of work that I wouldn’t have done, had it not been for my diagnoses.

Learning about arthritis and advocating on behalf of others living with arthritis has also given me opportunities to travel and speak to varied audiences at home and abroad that bar work just cannot offer.

Sadly for me, for a number of years after my diagnoses I, like many others, catastrophised my situation and presumed I would become a burden to any future girlfriends; unable to bring anything positive to a relationship. Whether that was money or a sense of self-belief from being successful in work and life.

I have learnt that I can do so much and contribute positively to life and the world. I’ve made a difference in my own life and I’ve helped many others over the years of voluntary work. I have my flaws and I am anything but perfect, however I do have plenty to offer.

I never imagined still living here at 35 but this is how it has panned out. I never imagined being single at 35 but this is how it has panned out. Then again I never imagined having arthritis or fibromyalgia and I’m not doing too bad managing them, so….

Thank you to everyone who has wished me a happy birthday today on Facebook, on Twitter, by phone and in person. Each of you remind me of where I’ve come from, where I’m going and the journey I’m on living with arthritis and fibromyalgia.