Progress on Several Fronts

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I met with my therapist today.

We talked about the last two weeks – about the SCA event over the weekend, about how I managed to avoid much anxiety, how much fun I had, and how glad I was to be getting back into an area of the SCA that I used to enjoy very much. She was very pleased to hear about everything, and when I was quick to give credit to having the Zoloft on board she was just as quick to correct me. She said that most of what I did over the weekend was me, and not the medication. The Zoloft might have taken the edge off, but the complete lack of panic leading up to the event and the relative low amount of anxiety I felt during the event was because of my progress over several months and my own efforts were what kept the panic attack at the event at bay.

We also talked about school, and she mentioned that my classes over the weekend will go a ways toward preparing me for my classes in the fall. She was concerned that I was going to be doing four classes at once, but she was relieved to hear that I would be doing them sequentially. I told her that Austin Community College offers an associates degree in Health Information Technology that would expand on the learning that I would receive through the certificate program, and that the associates degree transfers to the Health Information Technology program at Texas State University for a bachelor’s degree. She asked if I could go back to Texas Workforce Commission and ask if they would greenlight the associates degree instead of the certificate program. It’s six semesters versus two, but it would open more doors for me at the end of my education, and presumably increase my asking salary. I told her that I have a new counselor at TWC and that I’d send something over to her tomorrow.

We also touched on my fear of dying. I mentioned that it had come up in the book that I’m reading on her recommendation, and that the entry wasn’t very helpful. The end result of that conversation was a little surprising. She wants me to do some soul searching to arrive at what I believe happens when we die. I’d never given it much thought beyond “if there is something, living a decent life on Earth is the best way to secure a happy afterlife, and if there isn’t something, living a decent life on Earth is its own reward.” But I suppose that over the next couple weeks I’ll be deep in thought about this so I can report back to her.

It was a good session today.

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Deathly Afraid

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I’ve talked about my phobias on this blog before, although not really in depth. I’ve conquered most of them, but there’s still one that will wake me up in a cold sweat if I dream about it, and it will bring me to the edge of a panic attack if I even think about it, so this blog post is going to be difficult to write.

I am deathly afraid of dying. (Pun intended.)

It’s important to note that I am not afraid of death – that is, being dead. I figure that I’m either going to move on to the next big adventure or just go to sleep and never wake up, and being in that state does not scare me. But the process of dying absolutely terrifies me. The destination isn’t frightening, but the journey certainly is.

I know this isn’t an uncommon phobia. Many of us are afraid of dying. The term thanatophobia refers to both a fear of death and a fear of dying, so it is recognized that the two are separate things. But I can’t shake the fear that I’ll be leaving this life behind.

I’m not sure why that’s such a terrifying thing for me. I haven’t done much with this life, I’ve hardly ever accomplished anything I set out to try and accomplish in my life – but maybe that’s why I’m scared of dying. I’m afraid of what I’ve been missing out on being forever out of reach for me.

My solution up to this point has been to not think about it, but that’s not an effective or elegant answer to a problem that just comes into my head from time to time unbidden. Nor is just doing the things that I want to do an answer either. My other anxieties and lack of funds keep me from doing a lot that I may want to do. (Apparently Bucket List Me is an expensive date.)

Is there an answer to this fear out there somewhere? Surely there’s got to be something that can help me overcome this one. Exposure therapy isn’t really going to work for this one. (Write about dying until it no longer scares you. Now pretend that you’re dying until it no longer scares you. Then actually die until it no longer scares you … um …) So what other solutions are available?

Guess I’ll tack this onto the list of things to talk about in therapy.