Dodu Nims

The world as seen by Nimo!

The fear of death: Anxiety

We were seated a few metres near the beach, by the roadside watching vehicles driving by. A matatu stopped at the stage and a middle-aged couple alighted, the mother holding two small kids and the father with one slightly older boy. “Do you think they are happy?” I asked him while staring at the couple, perhaps to try to get a clearer picture.
“No, they look overwhelmed, the man has a bigger pouch, probably from drinking too much, and the mother has a languid face, she looks tired, she probably needs a vacation. Ironic considering, they live in Mombasa where everyone comes for vacation.”
“life is so funny,” he added, “you may think you want something so much and dream and pray about it, but when you get it you become miserable. I am not implying that they are miserable, maybe they are just having a bad evening, or maybe they are people who don’t smile, but there is some truth in my statement.”

I asked what his experience was with the statement. He shrugged, looking at the people walking from the beach as the sun set, with their sandy sandals, happy chatter and their full carry on bags.

“Well, since childhood, I always believed I was special. My unique name that led to me getting bullied a lot and my smart brain always implied that there was something greater in me. So, I rode with that tide my entire childhood, always thinking I am more that just the normal average person. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe that I am, but life has taught me that everyone is special, so technically I am just a normal person.”

“So, normal is boring right?” I probed, while I ate my achari, as he salivated. Don’t get me wrong, I had offered him achari but he quickly declined, later on I learnt that he wanted the achari, but was just too courteous to accept my offer. Oh, curtesy, the man-made principle that keeps so many people hungry and afraid to ask for help.

“Huh! I used to think that way until, I met the alternative of normal. It was on August 5th 2014 when anxiety bombarded my life. After one of my final first year exams, communication skills, I walked out of the exam hall and a friend received a call that another friend of his just passed on. That was the beginning of a dark road for me. I couldn’t quite figure out what was different this time. I had always accepted death; it was inevitable that part I grasped. But what hadn’t sunk in was that it could happen to me at any time.”

“Isn’t that the bitter pill of life,” I quickly interjected, as I nibbled the final pieces of my achari. The sun had set and darkness was slowly becoming a norm. the mosquitoes of the coast were nowhere to be seen, maybe the extreme heat had led them to carry their buzz to Nairobi.

“Yes, it is, but I just never fully understood it until that point. I come from a good family not all that rich, I have had my fair share of ups and downs, and I had always set the future as my place of comfort. All I had to do was work hard and everything would give in eventually. But here was a case of someone who was in school with dreams like mine probably even better and whose life had just been cut off. So, what was so special about me?”

“I had factored in everything about living but hadn’t noticed that all this factoring was all on the foundation of fabrications. So that was just the start, a simple start that led me to develop questions on the whole idea of existence. I would be calm in one second at the fact that at least hell existed. Even as much it would be painful at least I would exist after death. Then the next second be afraid of a whole eternity of it. And there I would comfort myself with maybe there is no after life and well maybe not existing was okay. I can’t remember anything before being alive so it would be the same. I wouldn’t feel anything after death and that would work for a while. But then my human ego would come in and I wanted to not just vanish. What was the point of all this hard work? Did it not matter in the end? These were the four points I mostly bounced between. Happy that I wouldn’t exist, then terrified that I wouldn’t exist, then happy the worst that could happen was hell and the whole eternity of it.”

He paused for a minute, as if to let all that sink in. It was a lot to contemplate, I imagined what went on in his head at that time, must have been a circus.

“The first person to talk to was my girlfriend at the time. We were not on good terms, but there was hope of fixing us. The scenario in my head was that I would open up to her about the changes happening in my life, how terrified I was. I needed answers. She would graciously help and all would be well.”

Steve, oh yeah, his name is Steve, he had already started experiencing anxiety traits. The same day he got the news of the death, he experienced the physical pains. “Anxiety started in my stomach, just feeling sick, and this crippling dark energy. I can actually feel it at the moment,” he said. “I was constantly thinking, the only time it stopped was when I slept, I couldn’t understand how everyone went about life oblivious, like doesn’t it phase you? How are you comfortable with all of this? That’s when I tried reaching out to her {the girlfriend}.”

“On 10th August 5 days later would be the anniversary of the day we met I tried bribing her I needed her to stay now more than ever.”
He went ahead to be Mr. Romantic, he made a slide show video of all their photos, wrote a poem and got a band, to sing a song for her when the clock struck midnight. The same day, she broke up with him. This didn’t do much for his growing problem, his world was being torn apart right before him.

“My ex-girlfriend’s mother suggested that I pray. This wasn’t helpful they didn’t understand, I needed answers and God,” he sighs, “where was He? I mean why was this happening in the first-place religion was fading right before me, everything I was brought up believing wasn’t working. Does He exist. Questions and questions led me to look for more constant thinking. It was slowly throwing me into depression and chronic headaches, headaches caused my overthinking and anxiety. Everyday felt the same, I hoped I would wake up and feel better.”

“Did you feel better?” I quickly asked, deeply rooted into the conversation.

“Well no not exactly, there is a theory about depression, that it’s like being in the pits of hell fire and it’s not the hell that is bad. It’s the unending hopelessness, like the hell fire its light to remind you of where you are in… hell… and you aren’t leaving. You wake up every morning and you have three seconds to yourself before the switch is put back on, and hell resumes.”

“Besides that, there is the growing physical pain, back neck aches, headaches with this sort of tight band around your head. The positions of headaches differ. Your heart can just suddenly start racing, weirdly racing. For no reason. There is this sort of bad energy, energy I can compare to how you feel when hurt, emotionally, or someone says something that hurts you and it just pains you for the rest of the day. That kind of energy but without a cause, mostly on your lower abdomen, or your chest region. One is constantly tired, sometimes feeling numb. This may lead to depression due to lacking energy or motivation.”

“Does it get any worse?” I ask.

“Yes, it actually does,” he quickly concurred. “For me it reached its extreme when I started having panic attacks. The first time it happened, it was a normal day of anxiety, I had accepted my life. My heart was racing of course but I was used to it by now. But that day it turned out differently, the pace increased and I could feel the beating all the way to my brain, there was this darkness around my eyes almost like I was about to faint, I lacked energy to stand my eyes grew watery. To be honest I thought I was dying. I had never felt so weak in my life, and I swore that was the last time that would happen, and believe you me it stopped, I stopped over thinking, the part about life and death still haunts me, but I don’t know how I over grew it, Something I never thought I would.

“So was this the end, “I asked as we headed back to the beach, the darkness was undeniable now but I didn’t hear the pitching of crickets, the nightlife was just beginning at the beach.

“No, there is so much to talk about,” he said smiling and then another story began.

Happy birthday Steve. Enjoy your special day today.

For my readers please be sure to leave your comment below. Have a lovely week.

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12 comments on “The fear of death: Anxiety

  1. The physical pain is disturbing.Not only are you emotionally and mentally unstable but your body doesn’t feel like it belongs to you.
    Power to him. I hope he feels better.

  2. Reading this from your perspective just makes me wonder, I can’t really get myself to comprehend the much that has happened. 🤣🤣🤣🤣

  3. Beautifully written and so vivid! I actually felt like I was right there on the beach with you guys, listening…

  4. I’ve personally struggled with this for the better part of last year and I don’t know if I’ll ever get back to before it happened but I strive everyday and moment to enjoy my life and most importantly is to keep your mind busy with constructive activities. You’ll have no time for such thoughts because an idle mind as it turns out is susceptible to such thoughts. He’s not alone and this topic just made my day because am also glad to know that am also not alone. Thank you @Nimo

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