Live Life Like You Mean It

I don’t want to die. That already sounds so very melodramatic but let me explain. I was a very depressed teen. The events that took place in my life led me to a desire to escape back then. I wanted to die; or so I thought. Those thoughts revisited a few times into my adult years but then something changed. I changed. I found meaning and purpose. I found passion and joy. Not just as a single experience, but through several experiences, usually painful ones, that lead me to a place of gratitude, bliss, and excitement.

As a person who has mental illness, I can find myself in the throughs of anxiety and depression where life feels like it’s being sucked out of me. It is hard to explain to people when I am at my worst that I don’t want to take my own life, I just feel like I’m dying. I think sometimes people around me have worried when I’ve been deep down in that black hole pit of despair that I just might end my own life.

I have tried to explain that despite the relapse cycles of feeling completely defeated in life, the last thing I want to do is die. The opposite actually. I want to live, and mental illness will try to weigh me down like a cement block. I love life. Despite the hardships, despite living with anxiety and uncertainty, I don’t want to die.

My anxiety is all encompassing. It includes generalized anxiety, agoraphobia, hypochondrism, as well as catastrophic thinking at times. I’ve traced the last two back to trauma events in my life that included my mother’s many suicide attempts and my own close calls with my physical health.

The past few weeks I have been preoccupied with fear thoughts around my health again. A routine ultrasound turned into a radiologist recommended emergency MRI. I catastrophically think about the fact that it could be really bad news. I do my best to change the thoughts to thinking best case scenario. I realized along the way though, I don’t fear death. I fear not having the time to live my passions and dreams. I fear not having the time to do the things I love and get excited about in life. I don’t want to die because I am afraid of what awaits on the other side, or that it might be painful. I don’t want to die because life is amazing and I continually find new things to be excited and passionate about.

We always hear, live each day like it’s your last but my bucket list is too long for just one day. I need years. I don’t know if there is a God. I pray to a higher power and admit I even try to negotiate. “Don’t let me die until I’m done raising my son. Don’t let me die until I published at least one book and do a Ted Talk.”

Waiting for test results.

Waiting to breathe a sigh of relief that I have time, knowing regardless of those results, I could still die tomorrow in a horrific vacuum accident. Those that know me would understand that comment.

I wanted to end my life before. I remember that time in my life. I see too many people unhappy in jobs and situations and I reached a point in my life where I refused to keep doing that too. Life is short. I want to go back to 25 and start doing the things I just started a year ago. But life doesn’t work that way, and you don’t get to always choose your path, or when you will die. Don’t wait for your time to be up. Live life like you mean it.

A few years back I left another career that didn’t bring me joy and purpose. It is the second time in my life I have done that. It baffled some people that I would walk away from employment security in such financially uncertain times. Money has never mattered to me and what I have learned is that if you listen to the universe telling you to walk away or walk towards something, things have a way of working out. Besides, I really think the people who judge me when I take such brave steps, are envious because they don’t have the courage to live life the same as I choose to.

I am not getting any younger. I’ve had cancer twice. I may have it again. The time is now. Love the hell out of yourself and life. Quit or apply for that job. Leave or jump into that relationship. Take risks, even when you are terrified. Say you’re sorry. Say you love someone. Go back to school. Go on that trip. Slow down and meditate. Stop and play with your children. Spend time looking out at the woods. Time doesn’t wait for you to catch up. Time doesn’t wait while you busy yourself trying to live a life you think you “should” live.

Do something today you have been putting off. Make a start. Don’t wait for that call that says you might not have time.

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