I’m at my aging mother’s, and freaking out.
I’m in my mid-40s. Over the past few years, I have developed an intense anxiety and fear of aging and dying. Primarily that I will not have lived life fully, used my time well, etc. Of the fear that comes with not having much time left, not knowing when illness will come, things like that.
I am also, frankly, a boring person. I don’t have a lot of interests or passions (I’ve done another thread on my depression and anxiety). I play some games. I try to get lunch with friends from time to time. I watch TV and movies.
I look to articles and such for advice on how to reduce the fear of aging and dying. And it feels like everything says the same thing - make sure that you are living life to the fullest. That you are not wasting time. That you are filling your days with wonder and joy.
Well, that then leads me to an even more intense anxiety, because I’m not doing that by objective standards. With the problem being that it is very hard for me to do that. I don’t have an energy or passion for things. It feels like “work” for me to go do things. I don’t have craft projects that I want to do. I don’t have trips that I want to take.
But because of that, the advice becomes a recrimination. I fear that I am doing nothing, and that I am wasting my life. That then increases, rather than decreases, my anxiety. It’s like the advice that is supposed to provide a cure makes me more guilty and anxious. Because I’m not living a “full life,” but at the same time, I do not know how I am supposed to go about that. Do I go do things I am supposed to do in order to live a full life, when I have no genuine passion or interest in them? If I don’t, how do I avoid the fear that I am aging and wasting my years by essentially sitting around consuming TV, movies, and games?
I literally feel this day by day - like I feel time clicking by, not knowing what to do or how to not feel this fear that I am not using my time the right way.
This may seem an odd comparison, but that scene in Saving Private Ryan where Tom Hanks tells Matt Damon “Earn This,” (the implication that Damon needs to live a full life to earn the sacrifice) terrifies me. We could always be doing something more “worthy” with our time. How do I not question whether I will look back with regret, or feel that I wasted my life? How do I watch TV without feeling guilty? But then how do I force myself to do something else that I don’t feel like doing in the moment? How do I even pick something “fulfilling,” when there is nothing I have a passion for or want to do.
Do any of you feel these things? How do you cope with them, and stop or diminish the pain?
(I have been to therapists, etc., as well as tried their suggested drugs, and have not found it particularly helpful. Just saying that because I know therapy/drugs is always the immediate response, and just want to get that out of the way.)