If I ever find myself stuck in a rut, I ask myself: “what is special and unique about where you are in life right now?”. It always seemed impossible to live in the moment, to breathe in the now and just be. Having suffered with depression and later anxiety, it was just so hard.
Depression and anxiety is a cruel combination. Depression casts a dark cloud as you wallow in the past, anxiety leaves you paralysed and petrified by the future. This leaves little room for the present. My life was held prisoner between Depression and Anxiety, while lines formed around my eyes due to fatigue, dehydration and the passage of un-savoured time.
A huge burst of bravery and determination to be with the one I love catapulted me out of my comfort zone when I moved to India, initially making my mental health worse. My old habits didn’t fit in with this new way of life. My concept of personal space and etiquette didn’t translate, I had to face my fears and anxieties. I no longer had a choice, I couldn’t hide behind familiarity.
Here I was, with the man of my dreams, but the perfect partner isn’t a cure-all. I discovered, despite popular belief, that only I could cultivate my happiness and health.
Every time I found myself outside my comfort zone, doing something I felt scared to do, I shed a little piece of anxiety. This started with small and simple things, such as smiling at the people I didn’t know during social situations I didn’t understand.
I didn’t want to be a prisoner anymore.
As I was a world away from my normal, I realised how much time I had wasted not doing the things I could no longer do. I should have spent more time with the people I love, I should have enjoyed wearing fluffy slippers during cosy winter nights, I should have watched the ocean more often when it was only a five minute walk away (I now live 500 miles away from the coast in the geographical centre of India).
I began to make lists of the things I wish I had done more of before I moved to India.
Then, I had an epiphany…
In England I couldn’t get up at dawn and watch flocks of parrots fly overhead, I couldn’t wear flowers in my hair everyday, I couldn’t sit in the tranquillity of a temple a short walk from home, I couldn’t celebrate colourful festivals or be immersed in a new fascinating culture.
That’s when I started to try to appreciate what was special and unique about where I was. I started smiling at the colours of rangoli, the way saree pleats moved and the smell of monsoon rains. I found comfort and courage in learning and trying to understanding the differences between the culture I grew up with and the culture I plan to grow old with.
The lists of regrets came in useful though. I have been working my way though them during my visits to England, with more happiness and confidence.
We’ll never be able to live this stage of our lives again, we should appreciate and celebrate what is special and unique about our now. Some days are harder than others. If you are struggling to live in the now, start small, take a deep breath and smile at something you find beautiful.
It helped me so much.
Seize the day, as the say.