Every now and then a reader offers insights about his or her own recovery story in the form of a comment on a particular post. As I did with Peter’s story, I like to give them more prominence by re-posting in the blog. Jocelyn offered this summary of how she was able to overcome a driving fear that led to depression. She wrote it in response to the recent post on peak experience, and I reprint it here with her permission.
Thank you for sharing such an accurate description of a component of my depression. I knew that I was recovering, as you say, “after these boundaries began to disappear… I didn’t feel so contained, so fearful, so dominated by fantasies or dissatisfied with everyday life.”
You use the word “fear” a few times. One of the main causes of my depression has been fear: fear of not being loved, fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of abandonment, fear of discovering that every negative prediction about my worthiness as a human being was indeed true.
I found a slow release from that fear through prayer, exercise, writing, therapy, a few weeks of medication, and my husband’s love and support. I was able to make a mental shift to accept and love myself and my ordinary life. That is the essence of my ongoing recovery.
My peak experiences were many: moving to the USA, learning English, obtaining a PhD, publishing books, climbing the socioeconomic ladder, becoming an American, job titles… . As you described, they provoked fantasy and extreme anxiety because of my fear that I would not be able to replicate the experiences.
I simply pushed myself to climb one more mountain, achieve one more goal, get one more degree, prove one more thing, overcome one more challenge… . The vicious spiral went on and on until I crashed. Then I entertained suicide more seriously than ever before. I thought of it as a way to stop the agony, the dismay, the fatigue caused by 46 years of a relentless external pursuit of internal self love and acceptance.
Each day, I am realizing that recovery and healing for me are about identifying, naming, fighting and rebuking each fear before my mind defaults into depression. I am slowly developing the basic ability to embrace each day, each moment without fear or suicidal thoughts. as a peak experience.
I am rediscovering my spirituality. In my case, I happen to be a Christian, but the spirituality I mean is simply the awareness and conviction that I am okay, that God, the Universe loves me, that I have nothing to prove, that I AM. That’s enough.
David Webb’s work on suicide (Thinking of Suicide) has helped me too. I am developing the courage to “live my life first,” to go beyond my mind and my fears and discover the real, peaceful self within that has been suppressed and depressed for so long.
Some days, I literally felt that I was fighting for my life. The simple, ordinary reality of waking up without fears, without the desire to die has become the peak experience in my life. It’s the evidence of my ongoing recovery after hitting rock bottom.