Living in the present has always been hard for me. I had such grand dreams for my future. It is hard to come to terms with the fact that I won’t go on a camel trek in the Sahara and spend the night under the most beautiful sky imaginable, or follow my passion for woodworking by becoming a heritage furniture carpenter or a tiny house builder.
Now that I have ALS, obsessing over the future also means I constantly worry about how my disease will play out. I play the what-if game every day. What if I choke? What if I get pneumonia and end up in the hospital? What if my muscle spasms never go away and I’m in pain forever?
Last week, while my husband watched me carefully as I swallowed my pills, I had a revelation. If I choke, I trust my husband to save me. Over the days that followed, I stopped playing the what-if game and I started thinking about the past. I remembered all the ways I had dealt with challenges. I asked for help when necessary. My respiratory therapist showed me exercises that will clear my lungs and make pneumonia less likely.
Many times, my own resourcefulness made my life better, like when my hip pain began, I had the idea of putting a bolster under the hip to help correct the alignment. This helps prevent the pain from even starting in the first place.
I’m sure there are plenty of mindfulness techniques to help ground you in the present, but for me, trust — in myself, my caregiver, and my clinicians — has helped me through living in the future to living in the present.
What has helped you overcome worries? Please share in the comments section.
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