Let me tell you about the time I almost died. It was a lovely summer day in August 2003. I was meeting with friends on a patio, enjoying the slowed down pace of the summer season. As I lifted my hand to fix my hair I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my palm. I'd been stung by a bee.
For most people, this wouldn't be a huge deal. But for me it was different. I'm deathly allergic to bees and I try to avoid the little creatures like the plague.
As luck would have it (thank-you universe!) I was two blocks away from a hospital. So I walked (ok, ran) to the emergency room, blasting past the person at the door who wanted to ask me if I had any symptoms of a respiratory disorder before I went in.
With tears in my eyes I quickly explained my situation to the nurse. She asked me to calm down and take a seat. We looked at my hand, and could see red bumps forming along the veins of my arm as the venom started to make its way through my system.
The nurse led me to a private room, hooked me up to a bunch of monitors and asked me to wait.
"Wait for what?" I asked.
"We have to wait to see what happens." She replied.
I was flabbergasted. Weren't they going to give me some medicine? Where was the handsome ER-esque doctor who was supposed to appear in these types of situations?
The nurse smiled and left me alone, with the beeping heart monitor to keep me company. No magazines. No books. No cell phone. Nothing.
I was terrified.
At the same time, I was being given an amazing opportunity.
Why? Because I was asked to hold tight, wait, and see if I would die.
Most people die unexpectedly. I, on the other hand, was being given a rare chance to contemplate my life.
So that's what I did.
I'd just turned 24 a few days earlier. I was a stressed out grad student who was obsessed with achieving academically. I'd been taking antidepressants for four years. A series of bad decisions had turned my romantic life into an absolute mess. I'd just moved to a new city and still hadn't developed any friendships that felt truly close. My family lived three hours away and the nurse had told my friends to go home. I was alone.
Bottom line? I wasn't very happy with my life so far.
It's not like my life had been horrendous up to that point. Far from it. But in that moment I realized that if I died, I wouldn't be leaving this earth in peace.
After awhile my throat and ears started to tingle. Then they went numb. I knew what this meant - the next step was anaphylactic shock - my throat would close up and I wouldn't be able to breathe.
I was too scared to cry.
Luckily the monitors must have alerted someone, because two nurses and a doctor came rushing into the room. They gave me intravenous benadryl and then told me to wait. Again.
The benadryl worked, and a few hours later I was discharged. The nurse asked me if I wanted to call anyone to give me a ride home, but there was no one to call. So, with my hand swollen up to the size of a baseball glove, I took the bus.
I gained a new perspective on the bus that day. Surrounded by a sea of stressed out students, annoyed parents and zombie-like commuters I realized that I didn't want to be like any of them.
Since that lovely summer day almost nine years ago I've changed my life in miraculous ways. I started making my health and well-being my #1 priority. I got off antidepressants. I got into a healthy relationship. I left my soul-sucking cubicle. I have close friends whom I adore. I've found ways to manage my stress. Most importantly, I've become fiercely committed to creating a life I love.
"One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure its worth watching." - Positively Positive
When my life flashed before my eyes nine years ago, it was painful to watch. Now, almost a decade later, I could die tomorrow knowing that I've taken every step I could to make my life as amazing as possible. Today, right now, commit to striking as many items off your bucket list as you can.
Then, when your time comes, your life will be worth watching.
Bethany Butzer, Ph.D. is an author, speaker, researcher and yoga teacher who helps people create a life they love. Check out her book, The Antidepressant Antidote, follow her on Facebook and Twitter and join her whole-self health revolution here.
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