Mourning Before Death

Around 3 weeks ago now I fell into a really bad anxiety episode. Those of you with anxiety know that its a constant cycle between anxiety and depression. My anxiety and anticipatory fears give me a feeling of hopelessness, which feeds my depression, which causes me to stop doing the things I enjoy, which further exacerbates by anxiety, etc. My anxiety this time is centered around my mom's death. Only, here's the thing: she's perfectly healthy and alive. It's my fear of her death that is spurring my anxiety. When I'm not experiencing an anxiety attack about her eventual death (a long time down the road, but inevitable) I'm depressed and feel like I'm mourning her prematurely. It's all I can focus on.

Any advice? Everyone tells me to just enjoy my time with her while she's still here, but my anxiety is getting in the way of me doing that. I need help and advice.

(A little note: she's my main source of emotional support, the person I go to whenever I need a kind word or a listening ear. My father passed when I was 17, my grandmother passed when I was 22, and my grandfather passed last year. I'm an only child, no close cousins, and the aunt I am close to lives in Phoenix. So, losing her would be like losing the only family I have left.)

6 Replies

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  • The fear of someone you count on not being there is very real for many of us and to if most people actually thought abut it, it would be to them also. But our minds are wired in such a way that it becomes overwhelming.

    Have you told her of your fear? If not this may help, just talking to her about how much you care and your fear of something happening to her. Those who say, just enjoy the time with her are not understanding what you are saying. Of course enjoying time with here is important but you are consumed by the fear of when she is gone.

    Just talk to her about it, tell you how you feel and perhaps that will help.

    Good luck - Hugs

  • Thanks for your reply. I have told her of my fears. She has reminded me that I am more than capable of handling things on my own. Right now I live with her as I cannot afford to live without a roommate and she's a roommate that I know won't do anything weird.

    I have lived on my own before. I lived alone for 3 years in Arizona when I worked down there. I'm not worried about how I will handle the struggles of life- I'm resourceful and sure that I can make it on my own. It's just- no one will ever love me unconditionally like she does. It's also bringing up fears of what will happen to me when I age. When your parents die, you're up next in line. It's like she's the last thing standing between me and my eventual death too.

    Staying in the present is very difficult right now and I'm trying to find a way to get back to enjoying my life again. I was really enjoying life before this anxiety hit and now I live in constant fear of not only her eventual death and my life after she is gone, but fear of my anxiety ruining things. I will find myself distracted for a while, then I'll think "Huh, I haven't had anxiety or worrying thoughts in a while" and BOOM, they're back, ruining my day again.

    Thank you for your response again. It helps to know there are people out there who understand and who I can reach out to for help and encouragement.

  • more importantly i think you need to engage your mind in some selftherapy. you know what your anxiety centers around - to me what that means is you know the fear you need to deal with and the best way to deal with it is to explore it and gain understanding for why you even have that fear to begin with and then work towards overcoming it, sometimes done by accepting that not all is in within your control and that is not a bad thing... In fact it is ok.

    by doing some serious self examination this way you can take back control of your life from this kind of anxiety rather than allowing it continue to rule over you and eventually ruin your life if care is not taken.

    We all are responsible for dealing with our fears and triggers by the way. And whenever we know of them, the very first thing we ought to do is immediately begin working on overcoming them because we know those are like our Achilles heels, and we cannot afford to hold on to any of those longer than is needed or it breaks us.

    so please start working on some selftherapy /self-talk sessions to help you overcome those fears so you can stop the suffering and move on to conquering your next. Please.

  • I have suffered from panic attacks my entire adult life and I often feel like down deep it's connected to fear of death. I DID lose my mom eleven years ago and somehow got through it. My dad just died in Nov and I got through that, too. Somehow you numb out and get through it. I take Xanax and that helps a lot. Lots of docs won't prescribe it, but mine does so maybe you could find a psychiatrist who WILL. I am on several psychotropic meds in addition. The only trouble with Xanax is that you get dependent and your tolerance increases so its dangerous. I am currently facing running out of my pills too early so am filled with panic. Like you said, these things come in cycles. It's impossible to comfort yourself with Logic. I get in a panic when I think about losing my partner because,like you, my life revolves around her and I am totally dependent on her. I talk to my therapist about this a LOT. She is trying to teach me Mindfulness meditations and being more focused on the present moment. It's next to impossible, but I still cling to hope. I also just completed TMS (TranscranialMagneticStimulation. Look it up on line. It is covered by insurance in some states but mine cost me over $10,000 and I don't feel it helped that much with anxiety, but it does better on depression. It is painless and you are fully conscious. It's the future of psychiatry to stimulation neurological connections to Serotonin. I feel for you. This panic stuff is hell.

  • Thank you for your response. I'm not so much dependent on my mom for financial support as I am for emotional support. I need to start doing and practicing what someone has suggested- being my own emotional support, talking myself through panic and worry about manageable issues. I also need to begin to accept her, and my own, eventual death. I know that anxiety is a life-long battle and you need to be vigilant, but I'm so tired and I just want the thoughts and feelings to go away.

    I'm also trying a technique of acceptance. Accepting that I am feeling this way right now, and that like all things, it will eventually pass. When I'm in the throws of an anxiety attack, that helps.

    I can feel myself slowly getting better, day by day. I'm no longer nearly catatonic as I was three weeks ago. But I hate these thoughts that just pop into my head. I see people and constantly wonder "Do they ever worry about losing their parents and being all alone?" and I'll look at my teenage students and envy their carefree attitude about their futures and their beliefs that it will all work out. I find myself asking people if their parents are dead and how they made it through it. I think it's just like you said- you push through and do what you have to do. I look back at everyone I've lost and that's how I did it; I did what I had to do, did a lot of self-care, "numbed-out" as you said, and made it through.

    I did eventually recover from my father's passing. It took a couple of years for me to get into a really good place again, but I'd say healing began a couple weeks after his death. So, I know I will heal from my mother's death too. I'm just making sure that I'm building relationships with people right now that will help to carry me through those tough times.

    Do you have other relationships besides your partner? Perhaps knowing that you have a strong support network of friends would help ease some of your fear. I know it helps to ease some of mine to know that I would have my colleagues at work and my close friends to help comfort me when my mother eventually passes.

  • No,I have no friends here except I found a therapist who I love and even though she's not a "friend" I talk to her twice a week and it helps. I moved here when I retired on disabililty because my partner lives here. She now lives around the block... We used to fly back and forth prior to my moving and have now been together for 16 years. I lived and worked in VA for 38 years. I went to college and grad school there and just stayed. I have a PhD/ABD and was a mental health counselor, believe or not. One Monday I woke up and just COULD NOT go to work. All of this eventually led to me going on soc sec disability, disability work pension, and my investments, so money is tight but not a problem. But my panic disorder ruins lots of things and I try to push myself as much as I can. I find myself constantly (and unhealthily) doing emotional scans such as "how am I feeling NOW? Howe do I feel NOW? Am I OK? Will I be OK in five minutes" and other such self destructive thoughts. I really have to push myself to do activities because I know from experience that your world can become too small so that you develop agoraphobia about even leaving your living space. Been there, done that. You sound like you have your act together despite your fears and anxiety! I'm stil! working on it!

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