Sunday, 15 July 2012


It's back. With a vengeance.

I haven't blogged about my thanatophobia for a while because it has been at a manageable level. For me, that means only occasionally being unable to sleep, slight yet persistent anxiety and sometimes waking up screaming.

But a lot is going on in my life right now. My childhood home has sold and we are looking for a new place to buy. Dad and I have to be out of this house by September 1. I leave for England on September 2. So no pressure but it's kind of all happening at once. On top of that, I am terrified of flying. Absolutely terrified. There is a story there. There are other things. You know, those little things that add up to huge things?

Well lately I have been absolutely exhausted. Sleep is becoming more and more difficult. When I do finally sleep, it is fractured. I am waking up screaming. It is less intense, but it is more frequent. I am finding myself on the verge of a panic attack more frequently and while sitting in a well lit room. Normally this only happens when I am in the dark (such as in a cinema) or when I am trying to sleep.

It happened again tonight. There was an identifiable trigger. I was talking about Halley's Comet. I thought it came around once every 34 years, so I googled it to fact check. I was way wrong and it's actually every 74 - 75 years. It was last here in 1986 when I was not yet one. I will see it once in my lifetime - in 2061. I will be 76. If I am alive. If I am still alive, I will not be far from death. If I am not, then I will be dead. Just typing this out is making me physically ill.

My mouth feels like cotton wool and I can't swallow.

My breathing is laboured and my chest tight.

My extremities have a numb, tingly sensation.

There is a very low ringing in my ears as if I am about to faint.

My Halley's Coment episode happened in the lounge room. Dad was there too. But I didn't say anything. I stopped talking. I focused intently on my breathing and I tweeted about it. But I didn't say anything to Dad. Why not? Because I've had thanatophobia since I was 11. Dad has been listening to me scream, cry, question, lament and rant for 15 years. I have nothing new to add. I know he doesn't mind listening to me but I feel exhausted. I have sobbed until my eyes burn and my chest is heaving in great, racking sobs. I have screamed until I can't talk for four days. I have talked until the sun comes up and left Dad shattered.

I promised to blog honestly so here is some honesty. From when I was 11 until I was 15 I slept on a mattress on the floor beside Dad. Every.Single.Night I ran into Dad's room, hysterical, terrified and shaking. It would take hours, many hours, to calm me enough so that I could return to my own room. Eventually, this complete lack of sleep began to affect both Dad and me. So I just dragged my mattress into his room. I would try desperately to fall asleep before he went to bed, so I could look at the crack of light from the lounge room under the bedroom door. Like I said, I lived like this until I was about 15. That's grade 10. Nobody at school ever knew.

So I am returning to that level of anxiety. I still sleep in my own room, and I am proud of myself that I am still sleeping with the light off. That's a huge deal to me and something my friend Chris helped me start doing in 2010. He did this from Sydney with lots of talking, messages, cajoling and by establishing my own personal radio station so I never felt alone in my bedroom.

But a consequence of my heightened thanatophobia is I am also tweeting about it more. My friends insist they don't mind and think it's healthy for me to vent my feelings and not bottle them. But I don't know what to say. Like the conversations I've had with Dad a million times, I don't know what to say anymore. I've said it all before. And really, there's nothing they can say to help. They care, I know they do, but there are no words to help me. Dad, friends, therapists, psychologists and a psychiatrist have all tried. I haven't killed myself (yes, it's a very real risk, even with thanatophobia and I will have to blog about it soon) but I don't feel any better. And while I do feel the release of verbalising my thoughts or feelings, I am so conscious of emotionally exhausting my friends. I know I did it to someone I valued as a friend and now they no longer care for me. I guess I just sucked every last bit of sympathy out. I am so scared of repeating this.

(This is where I have trouble verbalising everything I am thinking. This is my blog and this is my safe space. But I am still scared of judgement. I am not saying this for attention, it is just a fact of my thoughts. I also hate that I feel I have to reinforce this disclaimer.) This careful consideration of other people's attitude towards me is a double edged sword though. Because if I don't feel I can express my terror and my pain, the suicidal feelings start to creep up. I don't want to hurt the ones I love and I don't want to lose them in any capacity so my logical mind rationalises that it is easier for me to just die. I feel alone. This terror consumes me. Why would I live with this constant dread only to one-by-one go through the emotional torture of losing my loved ones until eventually it is my turn to die? I am so exhausted. Why wouldn't I just kill myself now?

No, seriously. Why wouldn't I?

Miss SAMawdsley xx

I don't have any questions. I think I just need to sleep. I didn't mean for this blog post to turn out like this. I just verbalised. I am sorry if I have upset anybody.


  1. You will never emotionally exhaust me. You have been there through my darkest moments and I will ALWAYS be here for you. Don't ever forget that. <3

    1. Thank you, Anonymous. I'm pretty sure I know who you are, though I guess you could be a few people. xx

  2. To answer your last question, your friends n family have gone a long way to support and try help you. they do so cause they love you. It would be a selfish act to dismiss all their aid by cutting your life even a day premature and we know your far from selfish. In life we all have our demons. some self made like acholoism, gambling and drugs. others are inflicted upon us like cancer. At the end of the day how we deal with our demons best is what makes life worth it. Your surrounded by people who care, take solace and comfort in that and the rest will not seem as bad. ynwa.

    1. I know all this at most times. It's in my weaker moments that I just want to be selfish and end the fear and the pain before it gets so much worse. I'm still here so I guess I'm doing something right... :( Thanks, mister! xx YNWA

  3. Jess had a patient die on her on Monday while she was doing prac. She came over even though I had a friend over for the first time in ever. She needed a hug, which I gave her for about an hour before she started crying. What got her was when she was telling me how he was fine, blood pressure was stable, everythign was looking healthy and stable, and then without a big fuss, he went and passed away.

    We talked about it for ages, and she has a fear of death, but certainly not a phobia of it. And then she asked me how I felt about it, and honestly... I felt relieved. Thinking about dying didnt fill me with fear or dread... Just a release of stress, a release from struggling to make enough money to pay rent and ensure I have enough money to eat for the week and on those occasions where I fail to do both, deciding which is more important at that point in time.

    A release from missing my kids so much it hurts, but hurting so much when I talk to them that I just wanna hide from them. A release from other peoples expectations and my own ideals I can never seem to meet. I dont really get the fear of death thing... It actually seems rather peaceful to me.

    1. To a degree, I envy your attitude to death. Seeing it as a release, as something to embrace when it happens, seems like a fairytale. But I would never want to go so far as to want it. I don't want it to ever happen. It's standing up and facing the fear head on, bringing the fight to me and doing it on my terms that I seek in my weaker moments. I guess somewhere between Jess and yourself is the healthy attitude I wish for. xx

  4. Have you ever been on any type of anti-depressants? For about 3months I had these terrors every single night, in the dark of a cinema etc. The only thing that helped was getting diagnosed with depressions and going on SSRIs (Citalopram).

    My symptoms were exactly the same as yours, but I never told anyone.

    Now, 2 years latter (still on Citalopram) I feel like I did before the 'black cloud' came and hung around.

    I know drugs work different for every person. But the fact that I can function & they don't impact my emotions has changed my life x

    Thinking of you

  5. Hi Anonymous,
    I am on Zoloft (sertraline) now but it's for my OCD. I've spoken to a therapist, two psychologists and a psychiatrist and I am not depressed. I started on the Zoloft to control my OCD because the OCD leads to the incessant thoughts about death which exhausts me and leads to my suicidal thoughts. Unfortunately, I have recently, and I guess stupidly, gone off my Zoloft. You can read about it here:
    Thank you so much for your kindness, it is much appreciated. I hope you continue with your happiness and the 'black cloud' never finds you again! xx