I have decided that something I need to do regularly is to journal – to do it as a means to help with my anxiety disorder (which I have talked about before) and alleviate other stressors in my life. So… I’m not really making it a new year’s resolution because, let’s be honest – if I did what is the likelihood I’d actually keep it? I’d rather make it a mental health resolution.
For those of you completely uninterested in my personal posts (non-fiber related), I’ll be sure to tag the title as [Journal] so you know to skip it. Just know these are going to put a lot of “me” on the table that I tend to avoid – but I think its time for me to stop avoiding it. I am what I am and that’s all that I am, right?
So – today I’m going to talk about my issues with death and dying (thanatophobia for those not familiar). No licensed professional has ever said “Cris – you are thanatophobic” – true statement; however, I know for a fact that when a person thinks non-stop about death and dying in a personal sense OR in the sense of their loved ones to a point it impacts their normal day-to-day living, that it is thanatophobia.
Yes, that psychology degree actually worked.
I know that it is something that has gotten worse since my dad died in 2003. It was something I was always aware of, but it did not become obvious how intertwined these thoughts were to my actual life – how much I allowed them to impact my life. I have done my best to live with it, praying daily for better thoughts. And yes, I do think prayer helps.
For whatever reason I have been dealt this in my life cards, I think I do ok with it. Some days its not too bad but other days, like today, when I have something going on physically (various pains or illnesses) the anxiety kicks in pretty heavy. I’m journalling this to try and help with the anxieties I’m feeling right now as well as just trying to help others know that they aren’t alone. There are a lot of theories about how and why a person would develop this type of anxiety and if anyone is interested, I’d be happy to do some additional research and present it here. It’s an interesting study regardless and its one I spend a lot of time with.
How, you may ask, do I “do ok with it” – well, there is a commercial that plays here that basically states that no one leaves their house in the morning thinking that today is the day they will have a horrible car accident. Obviously a commercial written by a person that doesn’t know about this little issue of mine (and hundreds, if not thousands of others).
Anywhoozles – how I deal with it is I think of it in two stages: 1) the silver lining of embracing each experience as it could be my last and 2) eternal life through Jesus Christ.
So, the silver living – people are told they should always tell their loved ones how they feel or live like it was the last day. For those of us that remember the twin towers attack (9-11), you remember the major emotional hit and how people were holding their loved ones closer. For me, that is my day to day life. Because I continually think about my death, its a natural progression to evaluate each situation I am in as if it were my last. I try to never leave someone in a bad place – I would not want that to be my last experience with them, the last thing they remember. I make sure I say “I love you” and “I’m sorry” – I’m never too proud to apologize or admit when I’m wrong because it may be the last thing I do. It’s important to me to have positive interactions. That’s a good thing as far as I’m concerned. With or without a miracle cure, this is a way I want to live my life – open and honest with everyone around me, a positive experience. We only have one life, right? I think its best to make it the best life I can.
Second is that I am a Christian and I have a strong faith and love of Jesus Christ. So, when I go to bed at night (usually the most likely time anxiety kicks in) I remind myself there are three states in which I may wake up: in my bed and normal, in a hospital to a doctor, or in heaven with my Lord. None of them are horrible so – its not that bad. It look a long time to get to this place but – its where I am.
I can easily tie this all back to yarny goodness – crochet and knitting help. I have turned to the fiber arts as quick therapy. The repetitive motions are very meditative but yet need enough attention it can break my thought process as it relates to thinking about death and dying. A few times, on really bad days, I have poured the anxiety into whatever I was making to get rid of it – and most of the time it worked.
I must admit it feels pretty weird to write this all out but at the same time, I feel a bit better than I did before I sat down. I hope I don’t freak anyone out – I do think part of our ability to erase any stigmatization about mental illness is to just get it out on the table and show that people with mental illnesses can be (and usually are) very normal people.
Well, I feel I’m fairly normal (if that counts for anything *laughs*)