Why you need to celebrate life before it’s too late.

It was a warmer evening in 2007 — it should have been spring or summer in Germany.

See — one would think you’d remember the exact day you died, right?
Yeah. Not me.

I remember every minute of that event itself — but I can’t for the sake of it remember what exact date it was. Somehow this makes me sad. I mean, this is one of the most influential events in my life, yet I can’t remember when it happened.

But let me go back to the start to the day I died.

I came home from another shift of work. I was 19 and besides my university (which is a full time job itself in Germany) I ran 2 freelance-businesses and a job “on the side”. So basically I was only home to shower & sleep for a couple of hours each day.

I remember that I was in a rush to get some food ready and to prepare myself for a studying marathon throughout the night.

But something felt off. I felt off.

A serious severe migraine attack hit me. I have had migraines ever since I was 4 years old. As this is a nervous system disease, it would change over the years and was affected by hormones and other things that influences the nervous system. When I was 15 years old I started to have epileptic seizures accompanying these migraine attacks. Something that wasn’t there before and that made these attacks almost unbearable — not only the pain levels was way over the top but now I had the seizures being added, and they pretty much put me into hospital 50% of the time.

So this attack hit me like a wrecking ball and I wasn’t able to make it to my medication box. It was like an explosion. You didn’t see it coming and BOOM you are out. On the way to the bathroom I knocked out. This was a tiny bathroom though, and so I hit the back of my head pretty hard on the bath tub and knocked over to the front to hit my forehead on the tile floor.

This is how I woke up. The pain was so strong I immediately felt I was going to be unconscious from it soon again.

The epilepsy kicked in.

I was lying on the floor and had this one crippling thought that would crawl up in my mind and got louder and louder: “I am not gonna survive this one!”

I saw only one chance — to call my parents. But the phone was in the living room.

With all my last strength I crawled into my living room, where my bag was on the floor, and broke down.

Lying there I was able to get my phone and dial my mum’s number. She got on the phone and immediately started talking about something.

“Mum. I am not gonna make it. You have to come. Be here in 5 minutes. I am not gonna make it. And bring an ambulance. This is really bad”

She stopped. I don’t think she understood in the second but my parents knew:
If I was ASKING for an ambulance (I hated them — I’d never asked for them, ever!) something is totally wrong. She asked something, I didn’t understand a word and only repeated myself “Mum, I have the worst migraine ever. And a seizure. I don’t think I’ll make it. Get an ambulance and be here in 5 minutes. For real!”

I don’t remember anything else — in this moment I went unconscious again.

My parents and me knew these attacks already for more than 15 years at the time of this attack. We were trained in how to handle them and I learned very early as a child not to make a big deal out of it. I was resilient AF. My parents had keys to my apartment “just in case”, they were on short cut to dial in just a second and they had all of my doctors numbers and documents. We were prepared. Yet, besides the hospital visits once every other week, I never needed to execute the emergency plan.

This evening though, everything changed. This WAS a big deal.

I woke up when my parents came into my apartment and put on the lights and started talking super loud to me. Well at least my mum. She was so in half-panic it stressed me out even more.

If you know migraines, you know all you need is SILENCE. And darkness. And no stress or panic. Well — that wasn’t reserved for me that day, I guess.

I remember me lying on the floor in my living room/kitchen and my mum ran in, put all the lights on, opened my fridge and got my ice pack out. She said something, called my name and my parents both sat right next to me. I tried everything — to move, speak, look at them — but I could feel that my body didn’t react anymore. I lost control. My mum kept talking and saying things and mentioned “ambulance is here” — and that’s when I passed out again.

And everything went black.

But this time it was different. I wasn’t just unconscious. I somehow was half there when I blacked out. I felt blacking out. I saw the black rushing over me. It swallowed me like a huge wave and drowned me.

And for a second everything was silent.

Then suddenly — everything went white. Bright shining white. So white that I was not able to look at the light. You know, just like the crazy white LED lights in the hospital — it was a disgusting white. Do you know what I mean? The kind of light that makes you seeing all the blind spots when you open your eyes again. This extreme bright white light.

I didn’t quite realize yet what was going on. I sat up, looked around and saw my parents leaning over me, the ambulance rushing in. Wait. Why was I still lying there — and sitting?

Slowly, I started floating up towards the white light, but looking down on myself. Seeing myself lying there. My parents next to me. The ambulance around and doing their thing.

I realized — this was it.

“I am on the way out of here” I thought. I turned around and the white light started to suck me in. It felt like a rip current dragging you away. Deeper and deeper into the ocean. Once in the center of it — it’s almost impossible to get out.

When I was floating towards this white light, I had snippets of my life appear. I wish I’d remember them all. But I don’t. All I remember is the one single memory that has 10 years later (yes, that’s how long it took me to understand this snippet!) made me committing 100% to myself, my standards, and the respect I keep for myself now. It has made me re-commit to ME. And cutting out all the BS in my life. Once again.

The memory? It was my boyfriend at that time. And the one single snippet was a scene of our latest fight where I had a rose from him in my hand, we argued, yelled and I threw the rose at him in total frustration and anger.

I wasn’t heard. I wasn’t seen. I was worthless.

For a second I surrendered. I was about to give up.
This life was not meant for me. I had no choice but to leave.

Ever since I was born I was conquering one challenge after the other.
2 chronic diseases, loss of my closest family member, bullying in school, mental abuse in the wider family, several injuries, a severe car accident with a lifelong spine-injury, an abusive and sexual violent first relationship, battling these attacks several times per month, money issues in our family made me decide to start working when I was 13… I could go on with all kind of things I overcame — but this is not the point. For one second I was about to give up.

This second is the most important second of my life.

Something inside of me said “That can’t be it. There must be more out there for you. Don’t give up!” so I started fighting.

I tried to get out of the stream that sucked me into the light, I used all of my will power, I imagined what I would do different in my life, how I would live it once I am back — and I begged the universe not to let me enter the white light.

I wasn’t ready to go. THIS LIFE WAS MEANT FOR ME. And there is only one me who can live it. I was not willing to leave. So I fought.

It felt like a brick crashing on my chest from 50 meters height when my heart started beating again.

I remember this pain so vividly. I still have it sometimes.
The first heart beat that felt like a little hand-grenade exploding in my rip cage. It took my breathe away. And it made me the happiest person alive.


I was surrounded by my parents and the ambulance team, had IVs in my right arm, and injection in my left — and everyone staring at me.

Did they know I was gone? How long was I on the other side? What the heck happened?

I wouldn’t get any answers until the next day.

I walked into the my neurologist’s office and sat down. I talked him through the night before, hours of brain scans, heart scans and other tests followed. It took most of the day. Then he said it:

‘Monique — You had a cardiac arrest. You were clinical dead for about 25 seconds. This also explains your out-of-body-experience!’

First I couldn’t believe it. I mean — yes, I was there. But have you ever been told you were dead for 25 seconds last night?

Yeah. Me neither. Until that day.

So what happened?
Epilepsy has a very strong effect on the nervous system. Due to the disturbed activity of the nerve cells in the brain there are many symptoms that occur, for example rhythmic muscle contractions or muscle spasms. The epileptic seizure combined with this migraine attack was so strong that the symptoms of both of them combined got me into a cardiac arrest.

This night changed my life forever.

You know how they say:

You Don’t Know What You Have Until It’s Gone’

and it’s so true for me. I did not realize what I had — until I was gone.

I didn’t realize before that it was ME who is control of my life.
I didn’t see the value of my own life, because I was told there was none.
I didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel — until the light came to get me.
I didn’t understand what life was all about — until I lost it for 25 seconds.

25 seconds of clinical death don’t seem long — but for me they felt like eternity.

So today I want to leave you with a few things that I learned from this experience and I want to share my truth with you that will show you

Why you need to celebrate life before it’s too late

  1. LIVE — don’t just exist. | Life is getting about 10 seconds shorter with every breathe you take. Don’t miss them! Live them. We don’t know when it’s time to go, and I understand that we don’t want to think about it as it feels so morbid. But please, please understand — you simply can not waste your time. Once it’s gone it never comes back. You can’t turn back time. Everything else is replaceable, but time is our most valuable asset. Use it.

→ That business you wanted to start for years? START NOW.
→ The Girl / Boy you wanted to ask out? ASK NOW.
→ The adventure you wanted to go on for so long? GO NOW.
→ The friendship you wanted to revive? MESSAGE NOW.
→ The gift you wanted to buy for yourself? BUY IT NOW.
→ The shit job you wanted to leave? QUIT NOW.
→ The song you always wanted to perform on stage? SING IT NOW.

Nothing is impossible. YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE. Whatever you pushed back — DO IT NOW.

2. Be your own greatest cheerleader | Society teaches us that it is arrogant to love yourself, that it is greedy to think you are freaking amazing at what you do and that it is cringe-worthy to believe in yourself more than anyone else. BUT WHO WHO WILL BELIEVE IN YOU, IF NOT YOU YOURSELF?
Don’t listen to the haters, the players, the naysayers, the keyboard warriors and all-day-bullies. Don’t let those insecure people let into your space — because they will suck the energy out of you. Be your own greatest cheerleader. Believe in yourself when no one else does, celebrate yourself, dance and sing with every win, and don’t ever care what others try to stop you.

3. Take a Risk | Yes, sometimes things can go wrong. And sometimes shit hits the fan for real. But imagine what you would miss out on when you’d not take risks anymore? You would miss all the fun adventures, the feeling of 1000s of butterflies in your stomach when you jump off that cliff into the ocean, the happiness that overcomes you when you achieved something you never thought you ever would. This is what life is all about. The experiences we make along the way!

So today please promise me one thing: When you look at your life each and every day, be thankful for what has been, be grateful for what you have now and where you are at, and stay excited for what’s to come!

Because I can promise you this much:




Monique Lindner | The Time Alchemist

Writing about Holistic High Performance, Work-Life Integration, Leadership & Autism | Author of 'The T.I.M.E. Method' | Change Maker | thetimealchemist.co