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Anxiety: Dying to Live

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It was a Saturday afternoon and I was doing what you do on the weekend, basically nothing. Scrolling through endless independent movies on Netflix, looking for something to cure my boredom for an hour or so.

I barely made it through the opening titles when fear poured through me. Pure and terrifying fear. I knew what I had to do, I needed my medicine.

I scrambled around looking for the bottle, picking up and discarding half a dozen other medications that are for the same disease, just not this part of the illness, when I remembered, I left them in my car the night before.

I hurried down the hallway to the elevator and frantically hammered the call button. The bell dinged, the doors opened, I was almost there. I reached the parking garage in my apartment building, my car was only a few feet away, when I realized, I didn't have my keys.

I froze. I couldn't make it all the way back up and down again. Options started flying through my mind. I could break the window. I could call my friend on the fifth floor and have her go get my keys. Or, I could just call 911, after all, there was a good chance I was dying, an ambulance was probably the safest bet anyways.

I crouched down in the middle of the garage. I closed my eyes and tried to focus on my breathing. I had been here before, hundreds of times, I knew what this was, it was a panic attack.

After a minute or so I decided I was safer in the hallways, that way if I collapsed I would be found faster than in the garage. I used that twisted thinking and managed to make the round trip back to my car.

I twisted off the cap and with no water swallowed my pill. It was like a heroine scene in a movie, instantly, I felt relief and calm and I fell against the side of my car for a moment of peace.

The question is, what caused this? My regular triggers were absent, no chest pain, no shortness of breath, nothing. The answer? I did. I caused it with my own wandering mind. I was thinking about my own death, something I do often.

It's not unusual for someone with panic disorder and anxiety to think they're dying where they're in the middle of an episode. But for some of us it's an ever lingering thought.

For me it's a thought so common that I have often visualized my own funeral. Who would come? What music would they play? Who would speak and what would they say?
It wasn't until I learned that this unreasonable fear of death was an actual thing that I started to try and fix it. It's called necrophobia and scores of people suffer from it.

I realized that I was spending an unhealthy about of time looking at really bad news. I was watching all of these horrific terrorist videos. I was constantly looking at news of death and tragedies. I recognized that my own habits were creating these issues, or at very least, amplifying them.

While it's important to know what is going on in the world, if you suffer from necrophobia, it's probably a good idea to stay away from as much negativity as possible.

I hope one day they find a cure, not just a treatment. But it's important that we identify each of our triggers and do our best to eliminate them from our lives, as is true with any and all different variations of anxiety.

When we spend our lives constantly worrying about dying, we don't give ourselves the chance to live. We give our days to fear, and we don't need to.

I'm dying to start living.