I never had ongoing fear of dying or going crazy...I know a lot of PA folks do though. In my case, I was so very miserable with the anxiety that sometimes I would wish that I could die so I could escape the misery of being scared all the time! I felt the same way about going "crazy". I reasoned that if I was truly crazy, I wouldn't have the awareness of being crazy and so would actually be happier in "Lala Land"!!!
Thru the years, I've dealt with anxiety, panic, and depression to greater and lesser degrees. It is never pleasant. However, with meds, I have been helped a great deal. Nonetheless, I came to a point last year while in the grips of a comeback of GAD (generalized anxiety disorder, which had been in remission for years) that I realized I needed to do something more than just look to meds during my hard spells of anxiety. I bought a book by Dr. Claire Weekes (someone mentioned her in a previous post to you) called "Hope and Help For Your Nerves" off of ebay. Until I read that book, no other book on self-help had really reached me. Somehow, I hadn't make the connection with other such books like so many other folks here had done. Anyway, I found her approach simple and understandable. It was not full of exercises that I didn't seem to be able to grasp. She just basically taught anxiety-ridden folks to 1) Face 2) Accept 3) Float thru anxiety 4) Let time pass.
So first, I realized that I had to FACE the fact that I had anxiety and couldn't run from it. I couldn't ignore it. No matter what, I was just going to have to live with it and deal with it for the time being. When I did that, it brought me to the second step, ACCEPTANCE. By facing it I had to accept it. I knew that there was no magical way to make the fear in my belly and mind evaporate just becuse I wanted it too, so I responded to doing the things I needed to do everyday and didn't hide from them. I just let the anxiety sit in my belly and "FLOATED" thru my pain. When I'd feel exceedingly anxious, I'd tell myself that I have to face and accept this and tell myself to just "go with the flow" (that's what I personally equate "Floating" with) and that after I'd flowed/floated thru it that I'd made another stride in facing and accepting. As I did this day after day, I was actually doing the last step-I was letting time pass. And as time passed each step became more easily for me. If I awoke with the anxiety in the pit of my stomach, I'd say "Okay Janet. Here we go again. You just face it girl. Accept it. You'll get thru it today like you did every other day. Just breathe and let time pass as you go with the flow of the day. And the anxiety would gradually lessen and lessen. I had previously done what many of us tend to do: I would "awfulize" the anxiety. I'd let thoughts like "OMG! I'm anxious! It's going to be awful, miserable, terrible! I'll never make it thru this day! What am I going to do?!! HEaven help me!" And the more we tell ourselves these negative things, the more we make a self-fulfilling prophecy! We convince ourselves of how "awful" it all is that it becomes more and more ingrained into our minds! With Dr. Weekes metod, you are actually doing the opposite! It doesn't mean that you won't have thoughts like "This is uncomfortable", but you'll be able to face the discomfort because you must. Discomfort we can bear. I went for days being very very very uncomfortable, but I'd just keep on shrugging it away as best as I could and when my thoughts would turn dark, I'd start the self-talk again! It really helped me a lot. Distraction is a good thing too. You've probably had to work while you had a headache. Even though the headache might've been present, by getting your mind on your work, you couldn't dwell on it as much. It's similar to this.
There may be times when the anxiety flares up again though. Dr. Weekes never said that there wouldn't be setbacks. She admitted that there probably would be and to just do what she'd taught all over again. That really helped me because I finally felt like I had a tool to work with after all those years! I still take my meds faithfully and am not anti-drugs for anxiety, but it sure feels good to be able to give myself some credit for overcoming the anxiety myself somewhat and not relying only on drugs!
I know I've been rather longwinded and apologize for that and I know that no two people are the same, so I'm not comparing myself with you exactly. I just want you to see that there are things you can try to do to help you deal with this difficult time.
Keep in touch and I'm sending lotsa hugs!!!