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Day 9 Death

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by MSZ812, Apr 2, 2017.

  1. MSZ812

    MSZ812 Well known member

    When I was 19 years old, my buddy Chris died. He had an undiagnosed heart condition, and collapsed in his bedroom one morning. He was found by his mother, who was a nurse. He was transported to a nearby hospital and pronounced dead within a few minutes. I was shocked, as was everyone else. He was only a few weeks away from boot camp, as he had just signed up for military service. I had grown up with him, and we had many mutual friends. It was the first death of someone close to me that truly affected me. Until that point, I had only gone to funerals for distant relatives who died after living 70, 80, 90 years. I had a great support system, and was able to grieve and help others grieve. We stayed in touch with his mom and his siblings.

    Within a year or so after his death, I had developed hypochondria. I still struggle with the obsession that something really serious is going on with me. It happens when I notice a news story or read on article online or hear about someone. I always see myself in the symptoms mentioned. I remember a few years ago, very close to the time that I started developing shoulder pain (that's why I'm here), there was a meningitis scare at my college. By that time, I had just graduated and was working for a company next to the campus. A faculty member had contracted bacterial meningitis and died within a couple days of hospitalization. The college sent a memo out to people that had close contact with the faculty member. The memo described the early stages of the infection, and the importance of getting treatment right away. I remember obsessing over this, worried that I would contract it too. In reality, it's not an easy illness to catch, like a cold is. But for about a week, I was terrified. Did I come in contact with someone that unknowingly had it? In reality, no one else was affected by the illness, thankfully. This has happened many times over the past 8 years, whether it is some form of cancer or an international health crisis (remember Zika and Ebola?). Sure, it's possible to develop any one of these things at any age. But it is clearly an anxiety issue for me.

    Looking back, I can definitely see a connection between my TMS and hypochondria. My mind is trying to get me to focus on the physical. Whether it is physical pain or just physical concerns, my mind is protecting me from dealing with clear repressed emotions. It is common to fear death, but clearly irrational to constantly obsess over very rare medical conditions. I have noticed that almost all of my obsessive worries about a particular health concern come immediately AFTER seeing it on the news, reading about it in the paper, or overhearing a conversation about it between others. I have discussed this with a therapist in recent years, and am able to notice it early on and am able to get past it much sooner. I do still struggle with it from time to time. I honestly believe that my dissatisfaction with my current standing in life is often the real unconscious emotion that triggers my hypochondria. Being single, it's difficult to see all of my friends already married. I have not yet found a career that I'm financially or intellectually satisfied with. This fear of impending death is most likely connected to the idea that I need to have a good legacy, that I need to be proud of the life I am living.

    - Matt
  2. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Matt,

    I think you're on to a lot of interesting material to explore, and to help you understand your TMS. I think there is a connection I have seen, perhaps a little different than you describe (but not refuting your experience) between obsessing about something (like worrying about getting something) and death. I think that for some, our compulsive worrying, anxiety, effort to control our "fate" is a defense so that we don't feel the actual existential understanding that indeed we will die. All the activity focused on little specifics keeps our mind distracted from the most devastating fact of our life. Our death. Your experience with a friend's death may also point to this in some way.

    Andy B
    MSZ812 likes this.

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