Monday, January 4, 2016

The Non-Suicidal Death Post

My intrusive thoughts about death started shortly after a conversation I had with Daniel about two years ago. I'm not talking about suicidal thoughts, I've had those since I was about 13 or 14. I mean thoughts of dying someday, of my life ending. We were having a conversation and he made a comment that even if people stay together, it will always end because someone dies (or something along those lines). After that I began having night terrors and anxious thoughts about death. I would wake up full of panic, terror, and despair; crying and shaking, desperately grasping for something that wasn't there. During the day it would feel like all the happiness was drained out of me. The funny thing about these thoughts were that they were never tragic. They were never thoughts of dying young, or suffering, or in a horrible accident. No, every time I pictured myself dying I was elderly and in a bed (either a hospice or hospital). What I couldn't picture was, who was there and what had happened between now and then.

It's taken me a long time to sort out why I am so terrified and having these thoughts. I still don't fully understand, but I at least have some awareness; even if it is a bit complicated. Obviously one of the biggest components is the fear of dying alone. The number one biggest fear for someone who has BPD is fear of abandonment and being alone. So, naturally my mind is going to wonder to thinking I will be alone when I die. I also have difficulty with the concept of time. Depending on what frame of mind I am in, I either see it as on my side or against me. Sometimes I think, "I will probably live another 50-60 years!" However, it is very easy for me to start looking at the rest of my years going by in fast forward; and since I don't know what's going to happen in my life, they go by as blank pages. Imagine opening a book, reading the first page, reading the last page, but nothing in the middle. That's how I sometimes picture my life. I know there is a middle, but because I can't read it/haven't read it, I am afraid it's not there.

I also have this really odd conundrum of wishing I will die first when I am married, but then not wanting that. On one hand I want to die first so I don't have to deal with the grief of not living with the person I love (again re: abandonment, lost, alone, BPD), but I feel I'd be more scared to die if I wasn't going go to "be" with anyone. On the other hand if they die first then I could almost look forward to something when I died. It would be as though I am being reunited with my love after a long vacation.

Sometimes when I have these thoughts I feel calm and at peace. I feel that I will be ready, and that death will be beautiful (I've spoken to people who have actually seen death). In other words, I am in wise mind. Then a lot of the time, I am terrified. Especially if I am in the middle of an activity I enjoy, but then it's not always like that! Sometimes I will enjoy myself and think the cliche, "I can die happy now!" I am also conflicted when things are bad (good riddance vs it can't end this way). Sometimes I'll reason with myself that I will be ready when the time comes, but then sometimes I picture dying in the future; but as I and things are now.

An aspect of BPD is fearing change and things ending. This may seem normal for most people, but for me it's an extreme. I feel great despair after ending a night out with friends, even if I know I'll see those friends again. I can get anxious when a therapy session is ending, even if I know I'll see my therapist the next week. I've worked a lot on controlling and dealing with these feelings, but sometimes they come down on me like a crashing wave. With people, I have an extremely difficult time letting go of relationships, even bad ones (goes along with the fear of rejection and abandonment). I struggle to even give a person space for a few days in fear I will lose them from my life forever. So when I have intrusive thoughts about death I can't help but think, "how am I going to handle being separated from people forever?", "how am I going to handle the ultimate ending, if I feel despair over the end of a weekend trip or something?"

I have been told that death is like seeing colors you've never seen, hearing and seeing everything at once, and that it's beautiful. That to me seems like sensory overload, it seems overwhelming. I've never pictured death as blackness, but even picturing it full of beauty and light still makes me anxious. To never do things again? Write, yoga, trivia, sex, hug, hike, etc. That just seems sad to me. To think about just floating through the nothingness, even if it's full of beauty and people, seems scary. More so, that's never been how I have pictured death. I believe in reincarnation, and for a while that brought me comfort. However, now I just fear being reborn into a time when the sun in burning up and the world is being destroyed. I'd like to learn more about reincarnation and how many times we can be reincarnated and if parts of our soul exist on different plains. Then of course there is the chance there is nothing after death, and I try not to think about that. Because I can't wrap my head around it. I can't wrap my head around being unconscious and blacked out from the world for eternity. What's even worse is having to experience blackness forever. Everyone in their own darkness.

I've been trying my best to help with these thoughts. Distractions help during the day, because I keep my mind busy. Night is harder, especially bed time. Less chance to distract especially because I need to be winding down to go to sleep. My cat helps a lot. It sounds insane, but when she's on my chest I feel okay if I die (not that I want to die, but that I am less scared if it were to suddenly happen). I've been usually self sooth a lot lately, specifically scent. Having something strong to smell usually helps snap the bad thoughts away quickly.

There's so many other random thoughts I have, all conflicting. How will I survive without my support systems? I am imagining dying as I am now?  What happens to bad people? What happens to animals? Insects? Is death full off old people? What will everyone look like? Will I be able to hug my loved ones? It comes on suddenly and is extremely overwhelming. Sometimes it passes quickly and sometimes not. For a while it was so bad that I began to disassociate and question reality. What was the point in doing anything? Buying things? Participating in life, if we all have to leave it behind? Why get attached if it has to end? For someone who feels such sadness over change and things ending that seems like "hell." It's almost ironic. I practice yoga to stay connected and present and then get anxious about never being able to do that again when I die.

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