2020 – what a year to be writing apocalyptic posts!
Jokes aside: fear of death, or non-existence on our current plane, is quite a common phobia. Whenever a disaster strikes (and we’ve had a fair share of those in the past few months!), humans tend to become increasingly aware of death as a possibility.
I always used to be on the slightly paranoid side, even from a very young age. One of my first memories was me at the age of 4 or 5, sitting in my grandmother’s lap, and crying my eyes out. “I don’t want to die!” I kept repeating, afraid of some random disease I heard about that day, and realizing I must have gotten it too, somehow.
The show went on for hours. No one was able to stop me from crying, and I refused to listen to reason. Eventually, my mother put me in her car, drove me to the local book store. “Pick whatever you want,” she said. She knew better than to take me to a store full of sweets or plush toys – a book store would always distract me, even from the fear of disappearing from planet Earth.
A few hours later, while I was working on my new coloring book full of butterflies, I came to realize I was too young to die. Next morning, I woke up, as well as the one after. For a while, my irrational fears had disappeared, but not for long. I continued to suffer through these episodes throughout my life, unaware of when they’d strike and how they’d manifest. In my teenage years, they escalated into series of panic attacks, causing me to avoid human touch whenever possible, due to a striking fear of germs.
In the past couple of years, though, my condition has improved. The first step towards getting better was exactly that – a realization that I have an untreated condition. I’ve become aware that there’s a clear difference between the healthy and unhealthy amount of fear when it comes to something we can’t control, like death.
I’ve never really gotten around to fully resolving it; funnily enough, there’s always been something or someone more urgent, more important to dedicate my precious time to. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I may never get to the bottom of this fear (the only explanation I’ve got is a rather unhealthy amount of the X-files show consumed from age 3 to 10).
Instead, I’ve put a bandage on it, so I can stay aware of it and try to fix it when circumstances allow. However, instead of drowning in it, I’ve mastered the skill of channeling it into the pool of energy I use to stay away from things that are harming me.
The fact that I’m a bit more paranoid about death than an average person has helped me:
- to never get tempted to smoke
- stop getting into dangerous situations (climbing impossible cliffs, etc.)
- become aware of using protection
- stop eating meat
- quit drinking energy drinks
- value sleep a lot more
- never get a driver’s licence (this is not helpful, but my anxiety kicks in whenever I’m in a car – my husband and I know I’m a danger to myself and others on the road!)
Let’s also address the elephant in the room: the birth of my son. I wouldn’t say it made my condition worse, but it definitely altered it. It’s kept me motivated to:
- live a healthy life
- cherish every moment of every day, no matter how difficult it may be
- be insanely productive in developing my own business (to the point where I sometimes feel like I’m already late at the age of 25!)
Overall, I think I’m coping – figuring out how to turn my phobia into a pool of energy has helped me find the strength to be happy, work hard, and look after myself. From time to time, I feel the need to get some ugly scenarios out of my head so I can fall asleep, and I definitely worry more than I should, but considering the amount of things that should be freezing me every day, but don’t – I’m doing great.