One of the most valuable lessons I have learned during my post-depression life was to live like there is no tomorrow. For someone who is suffering from severe anxiety, if I am being completely honest, this was one of the most challenging things to do. What do you mean to live like there is no tomorrow? How can I do that? Everyone worries about the future, right? And I think you have to have a game plan! At least a short one, but still. Ok. Perhaps I am a bit different as I often overthink the future a LOT more than others, but how do I go from being terrified to completely laid back?
My anxiety is a result of bullying, low self-confidence, lack of reassurance and guidance in my early years, and missing self-belief. So now, as a result, I exaggerate and overthink every past, present and future situation in a hope that somehow, I will either understand it or will be prepared for what’s to come. Does it work? Definitely not. However, I am trying to find a balance in all of this, so I don’t feel like I am in a cage full of negative anxious thoughts. So when I finished therapy to treat my depression, I have found myself asking the same question over and over again: What now?
I didn’t even realize how difficult it would be to live. You know, when you are under therapy, you do have a plan for the next few weeks, and so those weekly sessions are often the only thing that holds you together. Each week I would try and find an excuse for why I shouldn’t go there, but in the end, I felt like I was at the rock bottom with no way out and my doctor was the only person who could save me from it. I will forever be grateful to her. But when my sessions came to the end, there came a feeling of unknown. It was like I had to start walking again and I didn’t know how to start. I knew techniques that theoretically work, but there is a difference between knowing they exist and practicing them. It’s sort of a trial and error method, you don’t know what works for you until you find yourself in a panic situation and you have to calm yourself down using one of the skills learned during the therapy. And then again, they all depend on the actual situation, so you don’t know which technique to use until you are in that situation. That’s confusing to even be thinking about it, so imagine the practice!
It’s been three years now since I had my last therapy session, and I still haven’t figured out how to walk properly. Some days are harder than others, but what I have discovered over the last few months is that tomorrow is not promised. I know, I know, it’s not like I have just discovered America, but there is a deep meaning inside it. I was so anxious, that I completely ignored the fact that I might not even be here tomorrow. Anything can happen, and nobody will ever give me the guarantee that I have another ten, fifteen, sixty years ahead of me. I worry about what people say or think about me, forgetting that they aren’t ones who pay my bills or looking after me. It drives me nuts to think I might be made redundant again, but I fail to be grateful for the fact I still have a job, and whatever happens, I will be wiser and more experienced. I argue with my partner over silly things like who will wash the dishes, rather than just being happy we are together and we have food to eat.
I know am not alone in feeling like this. And I think people, in general, don’t live in the present moment, but instead, they either dig into the past or planning long-term future. We spend most of the time scrolling through smartphones, posting our life updates online but forgetting this is how we miss out on life. Being online doesn’t mean we are alive. We don’t notice any more nature around us, birds singing outside, or the smell of the seaside. We take the picture of flowers blooming in the spring not to keep the memory alive, but to show others we have seen it. We spend more time checking social media notifications than talking to friends or family. We hear things that people talk about, but we don’t pay attention to them. Our mind is often drifting somewhere else. We aren’t living in the current moment and we take everything for granted. We think having running hot water or food on a plate is so normal we shouldn’t treat it like a privilege anymore. We think our friends and family will always be here, and we will always have time to talk to them. We believe that tomorrow is just given to us.
I am still trying to figure out how to be more present. I often find myself doing literally nothing all day, and then immediately regret it because wasting time is something that deeply bothers me – my anxious mind thinks I might not get another day. And it’s not even about having regrets in life, I just don’t want to blame myself for not having memories.
I started this post by asking what does it mean to live like there is no tomorrow? I don’t have an answer to that, but I think to be present in each moment, and be grateful for every single one of them is the key to a peaceful and happy mind. We don’t know what’s waiting for us behind the corner, but does it really matter what’s there? I think of my daily life as a precious gift, and if I can make sure my mind is in a right, happy place at every hour and every minute, then what’s behind the corner won’t scare me. But believe me when I say life is worth living, and even though on some days all we can do is to survive, enjoying what we have today is worth more than what we might have tomorrow.