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  • Severe Death Anxiety - how to cope?



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    Old 10-15-2019, 10:18 PM   #1
    AnxiousWriter
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    Unhappy Severe Death Anxiety - how to cope?

    It has been at least a good 4 or 5, or perhaps more years since I developed severe death anxiety and phobia. The background to it, is it developed as part of the development and intensification of my SAD, GAD, and OCD. It is quite a long story, and if anyone reading this is interested, I have written about it in detail in my intro post to this forum: 'Please Help if you can'. Although I already had it since a few years before it, the tragic death of two of my cousins in their early to mid 30s, was what I think really amplified the distress I feel surrounding this. When I was in my 20s and early 30s, I was really enjoying my life, and like many at that age, these were not my immediate concerns. However, together with my anxiety issues in general, and numerous difficult events that happened to me since then, the fear of my own death, as well as of that of my beloved family and friends, finds a way to creep into nearly every element of my life.

    This fear was also accelerated after a brutal breakup, which occurred in early '17. I was abroad for a number of months in '17, and alone, in places I loved, but where I knew few people. In addition to severe depression (which has subsided to a great extent), I began to really fear, loath, and obsess about death and dying. I had a few very dark days, where at times when I closed my eyes, I would get uncomfortable images of family members or friends dying or passed away. It made me sick to the stomach, and I also picked up this fear too - at times I feared going to bed, in the fear that I wouldn't wake up. I could be in a nice square on a sunny summer day, and it made no difference. These really extreme feelings, while temporary, did not end when I began to feel better later that year, but they did subside to a more steady and constant presence.

    This was particularly pronounced when I was alone, which due to my work and circumstances, was often. I began, over time, to notice dangers anywhere. Even something as banal as walking up a staircase would make me stand as close as possible away from the edge. I began to feel extreme unease and anxiety every time I was in or near a cemetery, funeral home, or anything related. Even though I have been fully tested medically several times and nothing has come up (except for mental health issues), this fear just will not go away. It is far more than just an existential crisis - in a very physical and intense way, I know deep in my heart that it will happen, and there is absolutely nothing I can do to stop it - neither the means nor the time. When it does, I think about morbid questions: How will it feel? Will it be painful, will I know that I have minutes or seconds to live? Will I live for a long time, or are my days now numbered? I outlived two of my cousins, they didn't expect it to happen, why should I consider myself so arrogant that I am somehow special and untouchable and that I will live to an old age?

    How and when will people close to me experience the same thing, and how will I cope when it does happen? Is there an afterlife, and if so, what then? At times it got to the point where I began to doubt many things about life: Why do we spend years, and decades, doing things like building careers, buying homes and raising families, and going through so many obstacles and challenges and stresses in the long-term and daily life, when this will all be over shortly? In one incident, I was working in my library, and I had the terrifying thought that I might pass away in 30-40 years (I'm in my late 30s). I told myself then, what is 40 years? It is nothing. I love my family, my friends, and certain things about my life, and the thought that it all has to come to a complete and eternal end at some point, is the most terrifying thought in the world for me. Nothing can take that thought away.

    Although spending months in therapy, and some 2 years now on medication, these fears are still there. They are not always so severe, and sometimes I can go days or weeks even without a thought of it, but when it comes, there are times when I can stay up late into the night obsessing about this, or thinking about it for hours throughout the day. When I look around and talk to most people, it seems to me like I am the normal one - because I am not pushing this out of my mind, and I do not fear talking about it. I ask myself, how do so many people one encounters every day cope? Do they not worry too, and if not, how can they not? How are so many people so happy, relaxed and able to just be so calm and normal about things, and I am not? We act and live as if what we have is forever, when it is not.

    Beyond the usual advice - eg. therapy, CBT, perhaps asking my psychiatrist to maybe try another medication, I do not know what to do to ease this pain. All of the things that do ease it, such as medication, a good work out, a good evening with family or friends, are temporary fixes. I feel better for awhile but then it will return. I am trying to arrange for new sessions of therapy, and intend to commit to the exercises much, much, more. But beyond that, nothing helps. I know probably many people on this forum feel a similar way.

    I would appreciate any and all help. Thank you, so very much.

     
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    Old 10-16-2019, 02:46 PM   #2
    yayagirl
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    Re: Severe Death Anxiety - how to cope?

    Dear AnxiousWriter,

    I carried a similar heavy burden of disconnection to this world until I finally got appropriate help with a therapist that provided understanding. His role was just to listen and be understanding.

    No one can fix us, you know. Nothing can erase our memories or apply salve to our suffering. All others can do is be helpless with us. That is exactly what my great therapist told me. That is why I am saying it to you.

    I can understand your emotions and pain but I can't resolve it for you. I can only validate you to say yes you have suffered a lot. My traumas began when my father died when I was very young. He was my rock. Later on I was in a life-altering accident that was the fault of someone else when I was in my teens (I am in my 70's now) that created fear in me that I hadn't had before, and I didn't want to live. Now looking back I see that was perfectly normal. It is not fun to live with, but it's normal. I will never again physically have the abilities I used to have and love.

    To change your own direction, and only you can change it, my advice to you is that to live with life's very real limitations we need to spend time every day being thankful for what we do still now have and what we can still do. Do whatever you can each day to improve yourself and your life and the lives of those you care about. Sometimes all we can do is smile at someone even when we don't feel like smiling at our own life.

    We won't stop feeling negative until we begin thinking positively. It doesn't feel that way right now, because you have to make a choice every day. When we feel negative we alone can stop ourselves and choose to think of a positive. Others cannot make that choice for us. We can think - "I am still breathing. My life is not over"; whatever positives you can think of, say them out loud or to yourself.

    It is just a fact of life that if we choose to dwell on the negatives (and yes there are many) we will feel defeated and negative. Changing your habit of how you think will not be easy. I made myself write the same positive thought a thousand times, the first time I tried this. All I wrote was "I can live. I can do this". As time went on I thought of more and more positives, until I feel OK about myself most of the time even when dealing with hard situations.

    The most important thing you can do is to help yourself by correcting your thinking habits.

    You are still breathing, so you still are OK.
    __________________
    ~ YaYa ~

     
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    anxiety, fear of dying, generalized anxiety, panic attack disorder, phobias



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