Sunflower Thoughts

Kind, supportive and forward-thinking

Thanatophobia & constantly living in fear

I'm terrified of death. Not of my own, I don't ever seem to think or worry about that, but I am always filled with a fear of something horrible happening to my family. Upon googling it, I found out that this constant irrational fear of loved ones dying is called thanatophobia, and it's something that I deal with every day.

I'm not sure when this anxiety about death first started as it seems to be a constant presence in the back of my mind. Every so often it will just spring into my thoughts, sometimes brought on by something, mainly just randomly. It's not always death too - sometimes it's getting hurt, getting kidnapped, being attacked, but it's always around the same themes.

Every time my sister goes into town on a night out, I worry. I lie in bed thinking that if only I can stay awake long enough, I can ensure that she comes home safely. That she won't be stabbed, or dragged away in the dark by a group of men. I've laid there with my eyes squeezed shut and my fingers crossed for hours before, waiting until I hear the door click and I know she's home.

Some days are much more difficult than others, especially when there's a trigger behind my panic attacks and I'm not just being irrational. We had some bad weather recently, and I could not get the thought out of my head of a car skidding on the ice and hitting my mum as she walked to work. The scene plays in my mind over and over again until I'm certain it's real.

Another trigger was that my dad's car cut out whilst driving across the train track level crossing the other day - he re-started the car perfectly safely and made it home, but I haven't been able to stop thinking about what could have happened.

It's also become a lot worse since we got a dog. When we first adopted her, I joked that it was just one more thing for me to worry about, but it's a painful truth. Every day I worry about her running away, getting hit by a car, or being stolen. Even just writing this post is incredibly difficult, and I had to text my sister to send me photos of the dog to prove they were both fine (as I do most days.)

Last week, I had to cancel an order for the dog's biscuits. I was presented with an online form including pre-written answering as to why I was cancelling. One option simply said "Poppy has passed away." Seeing that set me off, badly. It was so much worse that they'd even put her name in there. I had a full breakdown in the toilets at work, crying and crying that she was going to die if I didn't go home right that instant. Luckily my sister was home to send me photos and assure me everything was okay.

It isn't normal, I understand that. I should not be feeling this way every day, terrified of my family going about their daily lives, wanting to bundle them up in the house, lock the door and close the curtains. I once mentioned it to a colleague who stared at me in utter disbelied that I had such awful thoughts all the time. But I'm not alone. I read an article on Scary Mommy which felt like I could have written myself, replacing the kids for my sister and the dog. It's a small comfort to know that it's not just me that feels like this, that wants to scream and cry in terror every time my fiance is fifteen minutes late home, and that the writer found ways to control her irrational thoughts.

If you've read this far, you're probably a bit concerned for me. I'll put your mind at rest. I'm going to have a talk with the doctor and consider my options. In all hope I'll be able to control this fear in time, even if I can't completely eradicate it.

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