Necrophobia Is Killing Me

by Brynn

I'm an extremely anxious person. Seriously. I've had anxiety problems my entire life and only a few years ago did they suddenly cross the line and become almost unbearable-- and all that anxiety centered basically around one thing, which is my necrophobia-- or my fear of death.
I don't even know why I started thinking about it. I just did one day, I guess, and since then it's been a recurring thing. Usually I think about it when I'm going to sleep at night, and it'll come out of nowhere and hit me like a punch in the stomach, make me sweat and my heart race and make me start shaking all over. Once it was so bad I actually had to run outside (it was like two in the morning) and run around the block a bunch of times until I calmed down.
The good news is that recently it's gotten less horrible, and I'm getting less panic attacks. I'm on medication and going to therapy. I know a lot of people don't like the idea of medication, (neither do I, trust me, I hate that I'm putting things in my body that change how I feel), but the truth is, it helps. It just does. I've felt so much better these last couple months that it's really almost unbelievable. I still get some moments of panic and fear, and my anxiety is still more or less constant (I've also got agoraphobia), but the level has gone down from like a constant 10 to about a 5.
Anyway, back to necrophobia. Ever since I was really little I've been obsessed with death. I've wanted to know what it is, what happens when you die, where you go, why it happens in the first place. And when I start thinking about it, I get all these crazy panicked thoughts: like what if NOTHING happens after death, and I'm just sitting in a void for ever and ever, for all eternity? I can barely find the words to explain how much that scares me. That thought used to make me have panic attacks so severe I thought I really was about to die from the stress of it, just crumple under and die on the spot.
The ironic thing is that I write stories about death. I just finished a book and I'm trying to get it published about a teenage undertaker who is friends with Gordon Lightfoot (yep, it's just as weird as it sounds.) The whole book basically centers around death. I am absolutely obsessed with death, and yet I'm terrified of it.
I think writing about it does help, though. When I wrote that story it was like facing my fear-- sort of. It was like muffling my fear of it. I don't think there is, or ever will be, a good answer about what death is, or why it happens, or where you go afterwards-- and I think the best we can do is just sort of accept that we don't know, and find ways to muffle the fear. I know it's so much harder than that. But unfortunately this is a fear that just doesn't have a simple solution-- it's not like overcoming a fear of heights by going bungee jumping. It's a phobia that's up in your head, that doesn't really have a rational cause behind it, except the great fear of the unknown.
Maybe this will help, though:
"Dying is like sunset. Even when you're not there to see it, everyone else is going to be there for the sun when it rises again in the morning."

Life doesn't stop when you die. Maybe it does for you, but the rest of the world will always go on. That's one of the things I think about that helps me face my fear of necrophobia. I hope you find a way that will help you, too.

- Brynn

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