Breaking Free From A Birthday Bastillion

July 14th is Bastille Day. It also happens to be my birthday.

I love all things French so I quite like sharing my birthday with such an important national day of celebration and remembrance for France.

It is the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille and the start of the French Revolution.

So What Is A Bastillion?

A bastillion is a fortress. The Bastille was a fortress used by French kings to imprison subjects who didn’t agree with them politically. It represented a place of oppression and captivity.

Bastille Day represents breaking free from such oppression.

As I think about living with chronic illness, we can so easily feel like we are in prison. The restrictions placed on us physically can become a fortress, a bastillion.

Special occasions or events can escalate the feeling of being a prisoner in our own bodies, our own homes.

I could allow my own physical bastillion to spoil my birthday, or I could take a leaf out of the French book and take decisive action.

Breaking Free From The Bastille

Anyone with severe disabilities and chronic disease could easily be excused from trying to celebrate a birthday.

Any activity, outside of a well oiled routine, takes so much out of us. So much planning is required to achieve anything out of the ordinary.

Of course even the best planned strategies can turn pear shaped. A disease flare can destroy all hope of being able to move, let alone celebrate.

These are not excuses, they are realities.

However, these realities can cause us to be constantly trapped in our very own chronic illness bastillion.

No one wants to be in prison. Certainly not a chronic illness sufferer. Life is hard enough as it is.

So how can we break free, especially when we want to celebrate a birthday with loved ones?


Leading A Birthday Revolution

Let’s start with a few basic facts:

♡ A Birthday is just once a year;

♡ It’s important…you were born and your life is worth celebrating;

♡ It can be a simple occasion, it can even be a quiet day;

♡ You can set the agenda….It’s your day after all.

So what happens if you are just too unwell on the day?

Quite likely that will happen so here’s how I approach my birthday:

♡ I have a birthday month. Once July 1st hits, I take the opportunity to do special things as able. They range from cofffe and cake out with my husband or a day out in the country if possible. Mornning or afternoon tea with special friends (on a day other than my actual birthday).

♡ I buy a few little birthday gifts online throughout the month. Little treats that bring joy but don’t burst the budget. As they arrive in the mail, each parcel offers some birthday pleasure and excitement.

♡ I limit medical appointments. I want to focus on life and nice things. If I’m not critically ill, I can deal with health issues next month. It’s like having a holiday and it’s a wonderful birthday gift.

♡ I don’t plan anything specific for my actual birthday. My husband always has presents, a birthday cake and often a surprise, like pretty balloons to spoil me.  There are lovely phone calls, texts and messages from family and friends to also make the day feel extra special.


♡ No plans on the day makes it so much more relaxing. The stress of worrying about disappointing others because you have to cancel plans, is just completely removed. You feel so free. Nothing bastillion or prison like about the day at all.

♡ If you happen to wake up on your actual birthday and find you are having a good day…make the most of it. Adhock plans can be so much fun. Just make sure you have a rest day planned the next day and probably the day after. That way you can really push the boundaries on your birthday if you feel you can and want to.

May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. Psalm 20 v 4 NIV

Hopes For A Happy Birthday

Given our diseases work hard at making us prisoners in our own bodies, it’s vitally important we don’t add to those prison bars. Setting unrealistic goals and making definite plans for the day, will likely end in disappointment and tears. It’s supposed to be a happy day. We need to do our best to make it that. We owe it to ourselves, not anyone else.

Breaking free from a birthday bastillion will definitely have a better chance of resulting in a “Happy Birthday”.

Being brave to do things differently, on terms that work for you……that’s the revolution required.

It takes a change of mindset and if you are used to big birthday celebrations, letting others know well in advance how you need and intend to spend your special day, is vitally important. The earlier loved ones know your new way of celebrating, the better opportunity they have to get their heads around the change to your previous way of celebrating.

So if you are a July baby and living with Chronic Illness, please make sure you celebrate as best you can through to the 31st.

I certainly intend to pace my birthday and enjoy my birthday month.

I’m hoping to feel as good as possible on the day but even if I’m stuck in bed or just not moving far from my lounge chair, I’m going to have a relaxed and Happy Day.

I might just indulge in a croissant as a nod to my love of all things French, and as a symbol of my resolve to break free from a birthday bastillion.

Happy Birthday to any of my chronic illness friends celebrating in July.

Happy Birthday to You,

Happy Birthday to You,

Happy Birthday dear chronic illness friend,

Happy Birthday to you 

Sam xx🎉🎂

If you’re looking for genuine support, care, understanding & friendship, you are so welcome to join my closed Facebook support forum, Medical Musings with Friends . It’s a safe place to connect with others living with chronic and complex diseases, who truly understand the daily challenges. A warm welcome awaits.

I’m a Contributor at “The Mighty”. You can check out my published articles at My Author Page

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WEGO Health Award 2018 Top 10 Nominee

4 thoughts on “Breaking Free From A Birthday Bastillion

  1. I love the perspective with the Bastille Day link, you’ve worded it perfectly! I’ve had a bit of a crappy time with birthdays over the past couple of years and have come to really hate the occasion as I seem to spend it on my own feeling miserable, but I would like to turn it around this year. Then again, there’s only a few weeks to go and I’m still a grumpy bear about it so I need to do something about that pronto! 😆

    I love your thoughts on birthdays with chronic illness, and I totally agree that removing the pressure that comes with so much focus on ‘doing’ and plans can be very freeing. It’s far more enjoyable to do less, than to put pressure on doing more if it’s not realistic or manageable. I also love the idea of starting the birthday at the start of the month – it actually, in my opinion, makes more sense to spread out ‘birthday celebrations’ across days or weeks because we can’t do much in one day when unwell or when ‘plans’ fall by the wayside. After all, it’s just a day, social construct that shouldn’t imprison us the way chronic illness can either. Sam, you’re a kick ass birthday girl!

    🎉🎉🎉 HAPPY BIRTHDAY Sam!!!! 🎉🎉🎉

    Go get yourself that croissant. With a slice of cake 🎂

    Lots of love,
    Caz xxxxx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Love you Caz. I hope you come up with some awesome ideas to make this years birthday the best ever (in a quiet, relaxed, paced way of course). I so understand dreading birthdays. I do feel the same but am learning each year that it’s ok to just let the day roll as it will and if things don’t work out, it really is ok. ❤❤

      Liked by 1 person

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