Living in the moment feels like an impossible feat while managing a chronic illness. It is hard to keep my mind on the present when so much of my energy is spent planning future appointments, scheduling upcoming tests and procedures, and waiting to hear about previous exam results.
Lately, it feels as if I’m spending most of my time waiting for the next thing. And all of this waiting is distracting me from the here and now.
It’s easy to get caught up with worries about the future or memories from the past. These concerns cloud my thoughts and fill me with anxiety, fear, and doubt. Though it is difficult to remain “present” all of the time, I need to pay attention to current life moments to help ease my mind while waiting for what’s to come.
Living with pulmonary hypertension and other chronic illnesses has taught me that life can feel a lot like a waiting room if I let it. I’m looking for distractions while I wait for my name to be called. In a waiting room, time slows down and things around me become a blur. Similarly, my life can feel as if it is moving in slow motion if I concentrate on the things that haven’t happened yet or if I continually replay the past.
Waiting for the results of tests takes a toll on my mental well-being. I worry about what it will mean for my long-term health. The uncertainty of this disease makes it hard not to worry. If doctors can’t give me a clear picture of what my health will look like a few years from now, I start guessing based on my current physical state. Sometimes these assumptions lead me to the worst possible outcome, and my mental health suffers.
Feeling tied to the past and overthinking the future doesn’t do me any good, physically or mentally. I have learned that navigating life with chronic illness has many elements over which I have no control. I’ve had to accept this reality over and over.
Sometimes I believe that I can change the results of tests or ignore them entirely. I’m learning to let go of the idea that I can alter the past or the future; giving up the illusion of control allows me to shift my focus to the present.
It is understandable that I feel anxious about what is to come and experience unpleasant emotions when reflecting on the past. I realize that I can’t avoid these feelings. But while it helps to acknowledge these emotions, I need to limit the time that I spend dwelling on them to free up space in my mind.
When I resist thoughts of the past and future, I can make time in the present moment. I try to be thankful each day for the little things that I accomplish by myself and with others. When I feel trapped by anxiety over circumstances that I can’t control, I focus on the situations that I can manage while remaining grateful for the tasks that I can still carry out with ease.
Staying present while waiting isn’t easy, but it’s essential to make room for the joys that each day brings.
Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.