Well, for over a month (early September to now) I have been dealing with some feelings and I need to know what is going on and what I can do to help myself.
I believe it started when I found out that Joan Rivers had died. I then thought about what it must be like for her in heaven. Then I started thinking about what happens after you die and then it led me to think about the end of the universe. Just the thought that the universe is going to end or that it might end gave me chest pains and stomach problems.
I think I thought that even if I am dead that the end of the universe might still affect me. Then I started to think about the future and how every day that passes is a day closer to the end of the universe. And then I started to think “Is life even real?” and “Do I even exist?” questions like that.
I want to know if what I am going through is anxiety and what can I do to feel better and hopefully get rid of these feelings all together. Should I go to a therapist and what kind of therapist should I see?
Hello and thank you for your question.
Your question, am I going through anxiety, what to do, and if you go to therapy, which type – it depends on who you ask. Let me explain that.
There are many different models of therapy and many different types of therapy, and many ways to answer your question, so I will answer it as best as I can.
Part of my training included what is called existentialism. And this is what first popped into my mind when you mentioned that you had started to question things after hearing about the death of Joan Rivers. Some may even call it an existential crisis, when you start to question the meaning of things.
Emmy van Deurzen can give you more reading material on this. She came to mind as she lectured on this during my professional training and I found her excellent. If existentialism resonates you, then I would choose an existential psychotherapist.
Someone else may read your email and think of your thoughts as being what are called intrusive thoughts. Thoughts that come into your head, which you do not want and are causing you distress. If you choose to work with someone along the lines of intrusive thoughts, this therapy is very different from existentialism where you are free to explore.
Working with someone, where the goal is to eliminate intrusive thoughts, uses a directive model of therapy, where you will be told what to do to help ease your thoughts. You will probably use a model of therapy called CBT – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
If someone read your email, and focused on anxiety, well then you will definitely be using CBT and very probably mindfulness. You seem to be getting a stress response alright, as you mentioned that you get chest pains and tummy problems when you have the thoughts.
To sum up, I think it is very much a personal choice. If you feel that being able to discuss these thoughts, maybe at length, to get some sort of meaning, without someone, necessarily telling you how to get rid of them, then existential therapy may be for you.
If however, you see them as more, unwanted thoughts, that you want to get rid of, then CBT may be for you.
On the other hand, it you just want to accept them for what they are, just thoughts, without exploring them, but just wish to let them go, I would recommend mindfulness.
I hope this helps