There are two extremes of handling a birthday after the invincible teenage years: tenacious celebration or existential breakdown. Most people fall somewhere toward either end.
A string of demoralising birthdays in my teens and early 20s - including an aborted stand-up comedy performance, more than one birthday spent in involuntary isolation, and a dehydrating night of hotel pornography - have seen me traditionally swing between the despairing end of the spectrum, every year serving to highlight my failure to prove the worth of my existence, and celebration - one less year to struggle through!
Arbitrary as it may be, reaching 30 years old is a significant milestone for anybody. For me, it feels like an achievement, because for a long time I never thought I would reach it.
Three years ago, shortly before my 27th birthday, I was contemplating suicide, convinced I was worthless enough to justify it. One morning I stood at the end of a train platform and, as the train approached, I dared myself to do it, my body clamouring to find that fatal momentum. I felt profoundly hopeless, and the thought of living another day, let alone another three years to reach my 30th birthday, was unbearable.
Thankfully my life has improved since then. What kept my feet on the platform that day was my debut book deal - I had always hoped to be published before I was 30. Despite multitudes of personal failure, I knew I would achieve that, at least.
In fact I've managed to publish two books before today, my debut Panther and this year's The Fallen Children. There are plans for more. I've also fallen in love, made brilliant new friends, become indentured to the tenuous self-worth of full-time employment, and have the privilege of living with the two best cats in the world.
Still, it isn't these things that most encourage me to commemorate my 30th birthday. It's the realisation that life is difficult, and always will be - the tides of depression will always threaten to wash back over my head. Instead of dreading birthdays or welcoming them as the harbinger of death, I must treat them - particularly a milestone like 30 which, three years ago, seemed impossible - as proof that I'm up to the task of survival. That's a real reason to celebrate.