Why Am I Always Thinking About Death?


I was mentally stabbing myself in the face on the way to work today because I haven’t written in my diary since July 6th and I get so stressed out when I don’t write in it every day because I am always scared of forgetting things and I’ve been particularly busy and even happy recently. Don’t I want that recorded? I always seem to write in my diary the most when I have nothing substantial to say and also when I’m miserable.

What does it say about me that I critique old journal entries over how whiny I seem to myself?

The last thing I wrote was: “GAH I woke up thinking about him and spent all morning as I walked around my apartment getting ready thinking about him and then eventually just shouted out loud while I was pouring coffee into my thermos because it’s fucking ridiculous that he’s still in my head.”

And then I included a very nice text my Dad sent me because my phone has developed a mind of its own and is deleting all of my texts whenever it feels like it. I drew a speech bubble around it so I would remember he had texted it to me. Also I write down both very nice things people say to me and also very mean things people say to me. I like to keep track.

I will never be able to fully articulate why I’m so neurotic about keeping track of everything I’m doing and the people I’m with and how I’m feeling—I’m aware of how addicted I am to the feeling of nostalgia. I read something somewhere about how amazing it is that we can pick moments in our past and just locate these memories in our minds and let those feelings come back and wash over us. I can feel them over and over and over again.

I have a friend who never tells me what we’re doing until we’re already in the middle of doing it, and so a couple Monday nights ago I was sitting in an apartment I’d never be to before and talking to this guy I’d never met before—but we found out we graduated from the same college and with the same degree, just different years—and he asked me if I knew who Joan Didion is, which was absurd to me because we had just established we had both studied English in Southern California.

ANYWAY, she’s got that great quote:

Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearranges of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.

I’ve noticed how impatient I’ve become over such simple things and I think it’s because I feel like I think about death all the time. I get impatient over being with people I don’t like or being in environments that make me uncomfortable or just doing things I have never wanted to do and never want to do again. I have complete internal meltdowns over the idea I could die at any second in the middle of a structured routine.

I was 8 years old around the time my parents officially decided that I was not allowed to be in the living room if the news was on because I internalized every bad piece of information as a perpetual reminder that everyone I knew was mortal. I had latched onto a small, local story about a family dying from carbon monoxide poisoning. My parents weren’t checking for monsters or robbers in closets or under my bed, but were instead explaining to me how our chimney worked and the alarm system that was in place to notify us if there were some kind of gas leak in our house.

I have always thought about death.

I’d say I think about it in an incredibly self-absorbed way because it usually comes up whenever I consider whether or not what I’m doing is actually Important or Worthy. This happens often. I am always stressed.

And I especially think about it when I forget to write things down, because then what happens to them? All my feelings and thoughts and memories? My perceptions of people I love? Everything I want to say to them? They die with me?