I am afraid of my own heartbeat

[CN: discussion on death, anxiety]

I am afraid of my own heartbeat.

Feeling it,
hearing it;
the bustle of the beat
like a countdown to death.

It feels too heavy; too important.

I don’t always like knowing that I’m alive.

To know that I’m alive means to know I will die. To know that I’m alive means to know my trauma. Intimately. Repeatedly.

I have a friend who rests her hands over her heart whenever she feels anxious. I try this from time to time, and I can’t do it. I can’t stay with it. I am afraid of the beat; afraid of the pulse; afraid of a change or an ending. Is it too fast? Is it too slow? Too loud? Too quiet?

A heart beat ending is a finality that I’m not ready to greet.

Part of my heartbeat fears is related to what’s called, Anxiety Sensitivity. It’s the fear of sensations, which is a major way my anxiety disorder manifests itself. Feeling any sensation in my body creates a hyper-vigilant response. I go through a mental checklist:

  • Am I ok?

  • Am I safe?

  • Am I alive?

To be honest, it’s an exhausting way to live, but it’s all I know—since I was a small child.

Being afraid of living and dying is an interesting mental space. An ex boyfriend used to say, “We’re all dying. Currently, we’re all in a state of dying.” I would laugh and somewhat grumble internally about what an Eeyore he was, but he was right. We are all dying. And that’s okay. It’s normal. It’s not the act of death that scares me. It’s the being in pain that may lead to death that scares me. It’s the sensations I might feel that scare me.

I am anxious about feeling, and yet, I do it all the time.

I fantasize about what it might be like to have a brain that tells me I’m ok, or just a brain that doesn’t try so hard to spook me in the name of protection.

When I first got on Zoloft, back when I was 17, I thoroughly enjoyed the “honeymoon” period. I felt numb. My brain was numb. I couldn’t remember what I was anxious about. It was the first time my brain had a break. The numbness eventually dissipated, and I began to feel again, and think again, and obsess again.

I don’t want to feel numb. But I don’t want to feel this much. This is my internal, everlasting struggle. My heartbeat: a blinking, switching, flickering love.

An octopus has three hearts. Does it notice its heartbeat in all three? Do they all beat as one? How intense that must feel. How beautiful.

I want to learn how to work with the sensations in my body. I want to learn to be less afraid of these sensations.

I want to make a snow angel in my heart and feel its beat dancing in my chest.