Trigger Warning in this post as I talk very frankly about anxiety disorders and death and past suicidal thoughts.
I’ve not been sleeping well these last few weeks, mostly because I’ve been on a couch at Mom’s surrounded by things I could be doing instead of sleeping but also because I have an anxiety disorder and it keeps me up with abstract worry on a normal day. But then, when there’s concrete worry that people who don’t suffer from anxiety disorders even have…then I’m a wreck. You know, things like relocating limited-income parents and concerns about elections and…war.
It got me thinking about death on my drive yesterday. I think about death a lot because I’m not afraid of it (at least in the abstract) and in a weird way I will welcome it.
Not in a suicidal way…those days are past thank god. Not even in a suicidal ideation way. (But that doesn’t mean they can’t return which is why I have a very close relationship with medical professionals who understand the right questions to ask and the right signs to look for.)
But in a relief from chronic suffering kind of way. Like…I was thinking about how I should leave a note to my family so that if I die in a tragic and sudden manner – like being eaten by a bear – that I want them to truly understand that they can at least find solace in that my suffering is finally over.
(I can joke about bears eating me now because there are no bears in my woods in Alabama. But if they ever migrate there, that will no longer be my joking-because-its-impossible tragic death situation.)
And then I remembered I have a blog.
I write more frankly about my anxiety here than I do talk about it to my family because I just feel like that’s between me and the strangers who read my blog, you know?
Just kidding. A lot of people I know in real life read my blog. I’m just acknowledging how silly it is that I speak more frankly and openly about my anxiety disorder when I’m sitting behind a screen than when I’m sitting face-to-face with people who love me. But that’s the nature of mental health disorders! It’s hard to talk about to people who you want to trust you and depend on you.
So I don’t know how much they realize that my anxiety riddles so much of my every-day living. I mean, I’m at a very manageable and livable phase with my anxiety now, but it still is there in every breath of every day. I carry deep and unsettling worry in every step I take and every move I make.
Ew. Now I’ve got that creepy song stuck in my head.
ANYWAY…the reason there’s a part of me who will welcome death is because I know that’s an end to the worry. I never was really able to grasp any concept of an afterlife successfully – even in my religious years – because I couldn’t ever imagine an existence of me without worry. And that doesn’t sound heavenly at all. And if in some way my soul could exist without worry…would that truly be me?
So the secular view of death where everything is just…over...that sounds way more heavenly to me. And I want that to bring relief to the people who love me when I’m gone. Even if I die tragically. I want them to be able to say, “It’s a terrible tragedy that the bear ate her…but we all know she welcomed it as a final end to the worry.”
If you suffer from an anxiety disorder you’re right there with me, I’m sure. If you do not? You are probably thinking this is a bit twisted for a Saturday morning. But trust me when I tell you…this is me managing my anxiety. This is me with it under control. I can live my life…even enjoy it amidst the worry because I’ve been given tools in therapy and in education and I have my medication if I need it and I have a therapist to call.
(Of course, because of our stupid healthcare system I can’t afford to see her regularly but at least I know to call her if I feel like things no longer become manageable.)
My anxiety does not keep me from enjoying my life, but it is still there and it is still exhausting and so I still look to death as an eventual end. Not one I want to rush…I’d like to live a long and healthy life just like everyone else. But I will always look at death as something sad but that will come with a touch of relief, no matter when it happens.