One Breath

My daughter found this on Tumblr and I thought I’d share the entire post.

Last summer I went to see my doctor about a leg injury. She asked me how I was doing in other parts of my life and I broke down crying, confessing I was suffering from a serious bout of depression and anxiety due to losing my job, losing my grandfather, and general stress in life. She let me cry for a minute then said: “How far into the future can you see?”

“What?” I said.

“How far into the future are you certain of what is going to happen to you?”

“Umm… I don’t know? A few months maybe?”

“Really? That far?”

“Maybe? I don’t know. A few weeks I guess.”

“Ask me how far into the future I can see.”

“Okay… how far?”

“One breath.”

“One breath?”

“That’s it, one breath. I am only certain for as long as it takes me to breathe in and out once. After that, it’s a mystery. You can make plans for the future, but the truth is that leaving here you could be hit and killed by a bus, or tomorrow you could meet the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with. Nothing is certain. When you’re overwhelmed by anxiety just take one long breath in and out, and do it again. Don’t worry about what’s coming next. Just one breath. Do it now.”

I took one long breath in and out, surprisingly calmer.

“Sometimes doctors have worthwhile advice,” she laughed.

I smiled. And I took another breath.

I play this conversation over and over in my head whenever my anxiety takes a hold of me. It helps.

One breath.