The Best Gift I Can Give Myself

By Emily Nussbaum

Recently, I celebrated my 24th birthday. Well, I guess I should say others celebrated it. It’s been a long time since I’ve actually enjoyed my birthday. Over the last few years, it’s been a painful reminder that with another year passing, I’m still a mess.

365 days go by and I’m no better. My depression hasn’t magically disappeared. My anxiety has worsened. I’m wrestling with urges to self-harm again after being clean for four years. And sometimes I reach for a drink instead of help. Another birthday simply means another year of letting myself and those I love down. But alas, no matter how hard I tried to will it away, the clock continued ticking and my birthday came once again.

It was a day full of people sending love and well wishes, and celebrating me—a concept I struggle to accept since I feel there is nothing to celebrate.

In the days since, I’ve found myself reflecting on my 23rd year. Where it went wrong, but also where it went right? What challenges had I overcome? What steps had I taken to grow and better myself? What memories brought me joy? Who played an important role in my life that year? Through this reflection, I looked forward to the upcoming year. I wondered how I could prevent the dread when my next birthday rolls around, and I realized that I’m going to need to give myself a few things. Belated birthday gifts if you will. Those four gifts are: acceptance, patience, courage, and forgiveness.


I need to accept that I am who I am. I struggle with mental illness. I feel deeply. I wrestle. I cry. I win and I lose. And all of that is OK. I am human. I can quickly accept others and their struggles, so why should I not extend that same acceptance to myself?


Patience is something I quickly run out of. This year I will be patient with myself when I fall down for the hundredth time. Or when unwanted thoughts fill my head and I can’t push them out. I need to be patient when I find myself back in a place I don’t want to be, or simply in moments when I’m tired of working so hard to maintain recovery.


I will give myself the gift of choosing courage every day possible. It takes courage to pick yourself back up. It takes courage to keep moving forward. It takes courage to be vulnerable; to let others in so that they can walk alongside you. Through granting myself courage, I can continue seeking help and healing through friends, mentors, and counseling. It doesn’t mean I can’t or won’t be afraid, it just means that I will move in the direction of my healing despite the fear.


This is a big one for me. I have been covered in shame and guilt for so long because of past choices. This year, I will extend, and accept (with as much grace as I can muster), forgiveness toward myself as a means to unchain myself from all the things that keep pulling me back. Mistakes and regrets are inevitable. Failure to forgive will not help me to move forward, and forward I wish to move.

But ultimately, far above these four things, the best gift I can give myself is love. By loving myself (flaws, impending mistakes, and past mistakes included), I will be allowing myself a shot at all of these gifts I deserve to embrace. And no matter what my depression, anxiety, or past may tell me, I am so very deserving.

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Comments (6)

  1. Gail Porter

    Yes you are deserving and yes you do matter in this life. You have a whole life ahead of you take baby steps one day at a time one moment at a time. This too shall pass and before you know it you will get better. You know more about hanging on than the next person does. You are one step ahead learning about how precious this life is because before you know it, with the blink of an eye, the time will go by. Depression can be like a dead weight that you carry along with you. It may always be there but so will you. Do what you like, like what you do. Give yourself a break, take the time to breathe, make the best of every situation because life is a long learning process and along the way you grow and give a little of yourself to help someone else. Always focus on what is good, leave the bad behind. Run free without the guilt and focus on today, this moment you are in. Stay. You are worth it. You will always be worth more than the troubles that may pass by. There is so much to do in life so much to miss so much to conquer! Life loves ❤️ You! Every piece of you. Go forward on your quest one moment at a time…remember baby steps.😎❤️😘

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  2. Jordan

    I relate to this in absolutely every way.
    I too have a birthday coming up this month, and as my depression and anxiety have only worsened with age, I’m dreading my birthday this year. With another year passing I am reminded that I still struggle with mental health issues, and I am hurting more now than I was a year ago.

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    1. TWLOHA

      Hello Jordan,

      We are so sad to hear that you are dreading your birthday. We know that birthdays can be hard for many people, and we are sorry that this is a difficult time for you. We do not want you to feel alone during this time though. Please reach out to us at We would love to talk to you more.

      With Hope,

      Reply  |  
  3. appsdemujer

    Terria, I relate to this message, and am struggling with God”s forgiveness and forgiving the offense myself. My father, a “Christian sexually abused my daughter, his granddaughter, when she was a young child and when she was a preteen. This has caused my sweet daughter to run far from her home and family through college and work. She connects sparingly and we are struggling to regain relationship with her. I am hurt, angry and feel quite betrayed by the man i called daddy all my life. I only found out a few years ago, and it has crushed me and broken my heart. I must wrestle with God in order to find forgiveness in my heart for this horrible offense. Please pray that I will be able to obey God and release forgiveness soon, as well as prayer for reconciliation with my daughter. Thank you for sharing your story. It brings some encouragement to my aching heart to know this is possible.

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA

      Hello friend,

      We are heartbroken to hear about what your daughter has had to go through. Dealing with such a difficult situation can be draining, and we do not want you to have to deal with this on your own. If you would like, you can reach out to us at We are willing to listen if you would like to talk to us more.

      With Hope,

      Reply  |  
  4. AMC

    You matter.

    Reply  |  
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