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longgone's avatar

How do I deal with this emotion?

Asked by longgone (18213points) July 28th, 2013

Almost two months ago, a friend of mine killed himself. I’ve been sad, I’ve been angry, and I’ve felt lost. I had expected all that, and my family and friends have helped a lot. I think I am slowly but surely getting over it – or rather, I thought I was. During the last weeks, however, I have noticed something new: I feel scared. I don’t know what exactly I’m scared of…it took me quite a bit to even realize that was what I’ve been feeling. I’m okay a lot of the time, but the mix of nervousness, insecurity and anxiety is stressful. Especially as it sneaks up on me without warning. Is there any way I can deal with that? Is it even possible this change doesn’t have anything to do with my friend’s suicide?

P.S.: I already am in therapy, but it will be a while until I can see my therapist again.

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9 Answers

janbb's avatar

When you feel the panic rising, deep slow breaths will help with the physiological and thus psychological manisfestations. You could look online or for some meditation classes which are also helpful. And if need be, Xanax within reason can be helpful for short term calming.

One thing to focus on is that your reactions sound pretty normal so don’t add beating yourself up to the mix.

marinelife's avatar

It is hard to fathom the ways of grief. Would talking about it help? You might see a grief counselor or join a bereavement support group.

I’m sorry about the loss of your friend. Although it si hard not to take it on, you are not at fault for their suicide.

CWOTUS's avatar

Aside from the completely understandable grief at the tragic and untimely loss of a friend, and especially in this manner, at his own hand – and you have my deepest sympathies for that – you may be getting unwanted reminders of your own mortality. Speaking from my own experience and observations, young people simply don’t realize that they’re going to die. I never did. (I still joke that “I plan to live forever; so far, so good,” but I realize it’s a hollow joke – most of the time.)

Because of the ways in which we’re generally so insulated from death in Western cultures these days: people don’t often die from illness in their homes and in the presence of their families; suicides are kept quiet because of “shame”; infant mortality is greatly reduced (which is obviously a good thing! but still, it keeps us from experiencing death around us), and old folks die at nursing homes and hospices, it’s not very well recognized as “the other terminus of life”. What you’re experiencing is part of the maturing process: the recognition and awareness of Death.

Parents, especially new parents of their firstborn, are often incredibly fearful of every new sound their baby makes, worried about every news report about child abduction, baby-switching, strange and horrible ways to die, etc. They get over that. (Having the second baby helps, as does sleep deprivation and the simple need to get past it and develop a life again.) You’ll get over your current feelings, too, but I’m sure you’ll remember your friend as well, just not the end of his life so much in the front of your mind.

The only real cure, I think, is to keep on living. And to be mindful, rather than fearful. That’s like “being afraid, but grown up”.

LornaLove's avatar

When life throws us a curved ball such as this, it makes us realize at times just how unsure it is and how prominent uncertainty is in everything we have or have invested in. Friendship is so special and losing a close friend in such a way can make us fearful of perhaps losing more? I think though this is an unusual situation and focusing on that might help take the anxiety away. I am truly sorry for your loss.

sparrowfeed's avatar

Describe this ‘fear.’ Maybe it would clear things up.

Is it like short bursts of panic that come upon you inexplicably, like panic attacks? Are you afraid of things you weren’t before afraid of (i.e. the dark, spiders)? Do you find yourself suddenly afraid and self-conscious in social situations (social anxiety)?

longgone's avatar

@janbb Thanks. I will try to focus on that. I do feel like I’m overreacting sometimes.
@marinelife Talking helps sometimes, and I do a lot of that with my friends. Thank you.
@CWOTUS That’s possible. Occasionally, I worry I’ve changed for good – but I might just need some more time. Love that quote!
@sparrowfeed It happens maybe once or twice a day, and usually I am sad or angry before. It’s like I feel remotely scared all the time, and when I’m upset I can’t keep it inside.
@LornaLove That’s it, I think. Because he seemed so happy, I’ve realized it’s impossible to predict anyone’s actions. That makes sense. Thanks!

sparrowfeed's avatar

I think you just need to embrace this emotion, and maybe find healthy ways as an outlet (i.e. exercise, painting, writing). I always used to write when I felt really upset, and I still do. Also to acknowledge that negative feelings are part of life.

longgone's avatar

Thank you, @sparrowfeed. I notice it takes a long time, but I am feeling better and better.

sparrowfeed's avatar

It’s just about talking about it and about really letting yourself feel it.. bother people with your emotions if you have to. I always bother everyone when I’m feeling down. I meet a friend for coffee or I text a friend.

And never tell yourself ‘I don’t feel this way,’ or ‘this is wrong.. I’m going to put this aside.’ To acknowledge it is the first step! And you’ve done that already so that’s maybe why it’s getting better.

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