The Caring Together Art Journal Project

Mental health carers as partners in recovery

Not just any 21st birthday

There was no big party for this 21st, no crowds and no great fuss. Certainly no balloons or childhood friends and yet, I was so excited, anxious and emotional.

My youngest child was turning 21, and she had asked to have take away Indian food for the five of us who would celebrate with her.

I couldn’t believe that she had made it to 21. I couldn’t believe it when she made it to 16, then 17, then she left us for 3 years and birthdays were celebrated with a phone call and a package from home. So this birthday was so special for so many reasons.

We toasted her, proudly raised our glasses and I said “Happy 21st Birthday – I am so pleased that you are 21 and still alive”. We all laughed, took a huge breath and understood. Getting to this day was one of her toughest and greatest achievements.

Happy Birthday to my girl who has such strength and spunk.

Story by private contributor, 2013. Illustrated by Helen Wilding.

Cite as: Anonymous. (2013). Not just any 21st birthday. The Caring Together Art Journal Project. Retrieved from

Comments on “Not just any 21st birthday”

Yes we certainly do want and need to celebrate. As my daughters 21st approaches I am hoping she will want to celebrate even in a small way . For the last few years she has not wanted to celebrate her birthdays. I know that it won’t be a big celebration as I had hoped and imagined earlier on. I had also hoped that all her probelms would somehow be over with by her 21s( naive I know)! I have coped by having my hopes though!

 So here’s hoping !

Comment received on “Not just any 21st birthday” 30 January 2013

Thank you for your story.

 My daughter too has just celebrated her 18th birthday on Australia Day.

After a few years of depression and anxiety, self harm and suicidal thoughts, I was very concerned that I wouldn’t have her with me by now.

She is learning how to deal with her mental illness and is much happier and relaxed than she has been for a long time. Seeing her smile and sharing a meal with her on Saturday was so good!

Comment received on “Not just any 21st birthday” 30 January 2013