Existential anguish. A deep-seated dread that seems to encapsulate every moment. The feeling of wanting to hold off on life, briefly pause the clock, but knowing that no such reprieve can be had. When these desolate emotions extend far past the expected times of sorrow or grief, a person can often feel as if they are dying. This scenario is a heartbreaking reality for many, but despondency isn’t necessarily a foregone conclusion.
In today’s pressurized environment, there is an underlying expectation for individuals to thrive. But, hidden deep inside, there is often an unspoken understanding that burnout and ongoing hardship is common. This increases the pressure for some people to sweep their more profound feelings aside, get on with life and succumb to a pattern of hopelessness.
This sense of ‘dying’ is relative to each individual; it is the dimensions of pain that the person experiences which offer a clue to the issues below the surface. Conversely, life can appear to be perfect on the outside; buoyant, or even enviable. But even in these outwardly successful cases, the internal struggles of self-doubt, fear or complete emptiness can be overwhelming and debilitating.
The idea that you are literally ‘dying’ may be a metaphor for an undercurrent of suffering and exhaustion, not the biological process of life ending. Your responses to situations and to stimuli are naturally going to heighten, or be more volatile, when your own mental health becomes burdened by the weight of disorder. Initially, this may be difficult to accept and may lead to negative self-talk or a downward spiral of thoughts and behaviours directed towards yourself.
However, the good news is, we all have the means to break free from these tightened torments. A lifetime of efficient coping mechanisms and healthy habits can liberate an individual from within, allowing them to live anew. There are numerous tried and tested methods of tackling this kind of continual, relentless suffering - although the road to recovery usually entails both difficult lessons, and moments of inner-reflection and growth.
A dynamic way to begin the healing process is to give mindfulness a chance. Experiencing our states of consciousness in an attentive and non-judgemental way, invites us to become more aware of our thoughts and behaviours. Despite being rooted in Buddhism and often referenced in discussions of spiritual enlightenment, mindfulness can be explored and applied in whichever manner best suits you or your situation.
There are a variety of routes that one could take in order to properly analyse, understand and then move beyond a prolonged period of sadness. Writing posts and talking about issues can help to untangle suppressed feelings - motivations and life events may come to light and choices that seemed previously impossible may become apparent. However, navigating through despair solo can feel insurmountable and guidance from therapists or counsellors is often essential.
Validating your thought processes is far from easy, but the journey provides much opportunity for personal development. It is vitally important that we treat ourselves with compassion, understanding and respect each step of the way. Without judgement, surprises and shifts often emerge, allowing individual responses to gradually become more balanced and attuned.
It’s challenging to confront the ‘I feel like I’m dying’ paradigm - but eventually, it is possible to develop a greater appreciation and awareness of our universal emotions. In the aftermath, we may realize that the darkness that preceded us was actually something of a teacher. And while the feeling of death will inevitably recur from time to time, there are plentiful paths to explore and signposts to guide us in the right direction. Having walked bravely through those grueling depths - we can learn to surrender and let go.
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