The Shadow of My Fear

I wish I could tell you about the day I woke up and realized that I was no longer in control of my own life. The writer in me wants to tell you that story in the same way you would encounter it in a novel, with me huddled in my bed as a clap of thunder rattled the windows, followed by a lightning bolt arcing through the sky—and me—as the realization struck that fear was now my mistress.

But life is so rarely like books; it lacks their efficiency and clarity, and that is not how I came to know that fear ruled me. No, my fear came at me like Carl Sandburg’s fog, on little cat feet, swiftly yet slyly, and by the time I realized it had me in its grasp, I was already fully caught.

All my life I have been driven to excel and to succeed. We’re all familiar with the concept of a “Type A” personality, but in my case, I was more of a “Type A+”. What can I say—even in that, I had to be exceptional. For twenty years, I took on challenges and crushed them beneath my heel as I vaulted triumphantly from one success to the next. Not once did the thought ever cross my mind that I could founder, for I was unstoppable, the world was my oyster, and failure was simply not an option.

Then I went to graduate school and my world crumbled. Or to be more precise, I did.

During my time in graduate school, I had the misfortune of working under an advisor who systematically undermined my sense of self-worth and competence; he stripped away my entire identity, only to replace it with wild-eyed, desperate fear. I worked with this person for FOUR years as he determinedly chipped away at the bedrock of my confidence, until I slowly slipped away into a gloomy sea of despair.

These days, I think it has become somewhat trendy for people to dabble in depression, perhaps in a bid for attention, or so they can make some claim on something that they think makes them special or interesting or deep. This was not that. This was not me feeling like I was in a funk, or needing to up my intake of Omega-3 fatty acids, or simply wanting to play sad songs on an endless loop while I lay on my bed and wept. I won’t dwell on it, but this was a very dark time, one in which, amongst other things, I was physically incapable of getting out of bed for days at a time and steadily retreated from the world. The belief that I was helpless and worthless dragged me down deeper and deeper. My fear metastasized until I was quite literally afraid of life. First my fear paralyzed me so that I could no longer keep from drowning, but ultimately it began to consume me so that I no longer wanted to.

Thanks to Tony, I got help. Initially, I balked at talking to a psychiatrist, terrified I would be told I was defective and broken, but eventually my need to not feel so goddamn awful every second of the day prevailed and I made an appointment and was swiftly diagnosed with clinical depression, anxiety, and a dash of post-traumatic-stress-disorder just to keep things interesting. Like I said—when I do something, I give it my all.

The various medications I wound up on helped kick-start my brain and re-calibrate it, but it wasn’t until I started talking to a therapist that things really started to get better. As my energy began to return, so did a maelstrom of emotions, the ones I had managed to deaden myself against for so long. We take our feelings for granted, but honestly, after having been without them for so long, I had to learn how to feel again. So many feelings that had been repressed began to bubble up, but the one that came back with the most ferocity was anger. I was angry at my advisor for everything he had done to me, everything he had ripped from me. But I was also furious at myself for having let him do it.

I realized that in my darkest moments, I hadn’t given up on myself because in truth, by that point, I had already given myself away.

My therapist pointed out to me that anger is a secondary emotion, one that hinders us and masks something deeper and more primal. Was mine due to sadness, guilt, disappointment, shame, or something else entirely? Corny as it may sound, I had to do a lot of soul-searching to find the answer, and even then, it wasn’t pretty. Certainly all of those things contributed to my rage, but digging all the way down, I found that the root of it all was fear. I was scared because I had lost the one thing I thought would always be mine: me. I didn’t know who I was anymore and I didn’t know if I’d be able to find my way back to myself.

I may not remember the exact moment when I realized that fear had taken my life from me, but I can tell you about the moment when the tides began to turn: after nearly two years of intense emotionally draining work in order to get myself back to feeling halfway like the Steph I had loved and lost, I acknowledged that although I had made good progress crawling out of my pit, I was struggling again. Knowing that I had hit a wall in terms of what I could do on my own, I went back to therapy, this time with a new therapist.

And my world shifted on its axis once more.

Even though I could recognize objectively that there were flaws in my thinking and outlook, my heart and mind were at war, because deep down, there was this part of me that just didn’t truly believe that the lousy things I believed and felt about myself were really untrue.

In my first session with Heather, I told her about the feelings I was struggling with, how overwhelmed I felt most of the time, by my own thoughts, mostly, which had this nasty habit of keeping me up late into the night as they rolled around my brain like marbles spilled from a jar. I told her that I knew all about cognitive-behavioral therapy, that I had read the books and done my homework, and even though I could recognize objectively that there were flaws in my thinking and outlook, my heart and mind were at war, because deep down, there was this part of me that just didn’t truly believe that the lousy things I believed and felt about myself were really untrue.

I finished spilling my guts and then waited for Heather to say something. She sat in quiet contemplation for a moment, before exhaling deeply and remarking that it sounded like I carried a lot with me, that it must be exhausting to deal with all that every second of the day. She asked me if I would be willing to try some things that were different from the techniques I had worked on before, and when I nodded, she said she wanted to see whether the practice of mindfulness meditation would bring me any relief.

I admit, I was dubious. Meditation seemed like new-age mumbo-jumbo. But I had been wary about therapy in the first place only to find it really helpful, and I decided to give it a try because I truly had nothing to lose.

At its very core, mindfulness meditation focuses on being present in the moment. It requires that you take the time to sit with yourself, and, without judgment, acknowledge your thoughts and feelings. And then you must let them go.

For 10 minutes, Heather and I sat with our eyes closed, simply breathing deeply, attempting to focus only on the movement of air through our bodies. When thoughts entered my mind, I was told to simply acknowledge them, accept them, and then let them go and return my focus to my breath. It sounds so hokey and simple, and yet after just 10 minutes of this, I felt lighter and more focused. With Heather’s guidance, I sought to make mindfulness practice a regular part of my day. Whenever feelings of anxiety began to overwhelm me, or my thinking began to feel scattered and frenetic, I would pause and take the time to slow down and address each thought and feeling in turn.

By acknowledging everything my mind threw at me, neither rejecting or accepting it, but simply recognizing each thought and feeling as simply being a part of me, I found I was better able to leave the unhelpful ones behind.

Despite what you might think, this wasn’t an easy process. Early on, I would say I spent 2 hours a day (in smaller 10 to 15 minute intervals) engaging in mindfulness meditation in a bid to calm my racing mind and rising anxiety levels. Mindfulness was initially quite counterintuitive for me, because I had spent a lot of time ducking unwanted thoughts and nebulous fears, thinking that if I stopped and gave them attention, I would give them a foothold and allow them to flourish. Instead, I forced myself to confront my negative, hurtful, hateful thoughts and taught myself to truly look my deepest fears in the eye and found it had the opposite effect. By acknowledging everything my mind threw at me, neither rejecting or accepting it, but simply recognizing each thought and feeling as simply being a part of me, I found I was better able to leave the unhelpful ones behind. Of course, this was all a process, and it took time to be able to sit with myself without judgment. I learned to forgive myself, to love myself, to treat myself with kindness, and perhaps hardest of all, to believe that I was deserving of this compassion.

Believe me when I say that giving myself over to mindfulness meditation is one of the hardest and scariest—but also best—things I have ever done. It brought me to a new level of awareness and to a place of peace that I don’t think I ever really believed I could find in this lifetime. At a time when I was searching, it helped me realize that I wasn’t really lost, I was just different, changed by what had happened, and it reunited me with myself.

Telling this story is probably the second scariest thing I’ve ever done, and were it not for Torre’s prompting, I might not have done so. Honestly, very few people—not my closest friends, not even some of my family—know what I went through, not while it was happening, and not even afterwards. The truth is, I wanted to believe that my depression and anxiety was situation-dependent, something triggered by the confluence of unfortunate events that befell me, not something systemic to myself. I wanted to believe this because I treated what happened like a dirty secret, one of which I was deeply ashamed.

I don’t want to be ashamed any longer. I have come to understand that denying the existence of my depression & anxiety doesn’t prevent them from being real.

Even if I were so lucky for these things to have been an isolated incident, why should I secret it away in the footnotes of my life? Instead, I’d rather bravely say, “I suffered from this affliction, and yes, there were times when it crippled me and nearly choked the life from me. It almost beat me. But it didn’t.” Is there not some small triumph in that?

Throughout his lifetime, Winston Churchill suffered from clinical depression, which he referred to as his “black dog”. Personally, I’ve come to see mine not as a dog, but as a shadow, one whose location changes as with the position of the sun. Some days I feel it walking beside me, tracking me and matching my stride; on good days, I feel it behind me, giving me space to breathe; and on bad days, I see it looming up in front and know that I may have to walk through it once more. I will not let it define me, but for now, I can at least accept that it is a part of who I have been and who I am today and who I will be tomorrow.

Prior to leaving on our Big Trip, Tony & I had created a list of places we had wanted to visit as well as some core experiences we wanted to have along the way. I had tossed out the notion of attending a meditation retreat, perhaps in Thailand, or maybe even in India, and I put it on my mental list of “things I would like to some day do.”

I never really forgot about it, but when I started looking in earnest into what these retreats involved, I started to get a little gun-shy: not only did the shortest ones seem to require a minimum of a 10 day commitment (we hardly ever spend that long anywhere!), but they follow a very regimented routine, involving 4:00 am wake-up calls and only two small meals per day, the last one at noon. Worse yet, Tony & I would have to bunk separately and wouldn’t even be able to speak to one another during the retreat. In fact, we wouldn’t be able to speak to anyone at all! It seemed like so much to ask, and part of me worried that I would sign up only to find I didn’t have the discipline or mental strength necessary to hack it. What if I found that I was actually a failure at the one thing that had brought me so much peace?

Torre’s call to action has proven to be something of a wake up call. She has asked us to reveal a fear and face it. Writing this post likely qualifies, but I want to do one better. The time for fear is over, which is why this winter, with or without Torre’s generous plane ticket, Tony & I will be heading to India (another fear!) and I will spend some time at a meditation center, facing my fear, and myself, once more. I don’t have all the details just yet, but this post is my oath, a promise to you—and to me—that I will do it. I don’t know if I will fail at it or succeed; all I know is that I owe it to myself to try. And so I will.

Love with a Chance of Drowning – A Memoir by Torre DeRoche

This post is part of the My Fearful Adventure series, which is celebrating the launch of Torre DeRoche’s debut book Love with a Chance of Drowning, a true adventure story about one girl’s leap into the deep end of her fears.

“Wow, what a book. Exciting. Dramatic. Honest. Torre DeRoche is an author to follow.” Australian Associated Press

“… a story about conquering the fears that keep you from living your dreams.”

“In her debut, DeRoche has penned such a beautiful, thrilling story you’ll have to remind yourself it’s not fiction.” Courier Mail

Find out more…

Popular in: Inspiration

Popular in: Musings

48 comments Leave a comment

  1. What a wonderful post! You are so brave to show your emotions like this. It isn’t something I’m able to do yet, but hopefully one day I’ll be able to conquer my fears and bare all in this way. Good luck with your journey!

    Jun. 10 2013 @ 11:17 am
    1. Jackie (Farm Lane Books) author

      Thanks for your kind comment, Jackie. It means so much to know that my post spoke to & inspired you, and I hope one day you too can bring your fears into the light & banish them!

      Jun. 11 2013 @ 8:31 pm
  2. Beautiful story, Steph, and you’re really brave for having shared it! You should also be proud of having the tenacity to put up with that jerk advisor for four whole years. I have so many friends that crumbled under lesser conditions, denied their dreams, and dropped out of their program. I’m glad you’re finding peace in meditation, it’s something I’ve wanted to learn to do to calm my wild and always anxious mind but I’ve never been able to do it. A few years ago I sought out a Buddhist organization that does meditation classes and went to one. While I found it physically relaxing, my mind buzzed the whole time with noises from the street, the sound of other participants jeans rubbing together as they moved, and so on. I really should try again. I’ve thought one of those quiet retreats like you describe would be what I need to break through. I’m looking forward to hearing about your experience and I’m inspired, personally, to try again.

    Jun. 10 2013 @ 11:20 am
    1. Cassie author

      I nearly left my program on several occasions as well because of my advisor, but I am stubborn and something in me wouldn’t let me quit. I was miserable but felt I couldn’t give up, and in the end I did finish, though happily under the direction of another advisor. I’m glad I didn’t let the first one take that from me to, but in retrospect, I really wish I had had the courage and confidence to stand up to him or cut ties with him earlier rather than letting it go on for so long. I likely would have rebounded from it better if I had, but I suppose we all have to learn our lessons in our own way.

      I can meditate with Tony in the room, but I’m not sure how I’ll do with many others around me… I guess I’ll find out!

      Jun. 11 2013 @ 8:35 pm
  3. Thanks Steph. It is only through honesty and transparency such as this that we all realize what each of us has to overcome in life. I have long said that ‘everyone has a story’; thanks for sharing yours.

    I also sit here shamed. I have long wanted to participate in a meditation retreat. I’m not sure why as it’s not something I study or have practiced at all, but I like the thought of the challenge and the introspection that must surely result. I thought of doing it while in Thailand but talked myself out of it everytime it entered my head. I was there four months; surely I could have spared 4 days (the shortest I found there) or even 10. I am shamed to say that I didn’t even try. And so this is my pledge to you; the next time I am somewhere where retreats are held (and there will be a next time) I will seek out a center and join you in your pledge.

    Jun. 10 2013 @ 11:41 am
    1. Gillian @GlobalBookshelf author

      Thank you for your comment, Gillian, and for your pledge to join my own quest to give one of these meditation retreats a try. I don’t really think you have any need to be ashamed that you haven’t done it thus far, but if my post has provoked you to take action, then I am happy for it! It will certainly be an adventure, and I think it’s always worth being reminded every now and again that we should make desires and dreams a priority rather than storing them away for some other time.

      Jun. 11 2013 @ 8:37 pm
  4. Steph – I’m increasingly impressed with the person you are. I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been to publish this post. I have my own dirty little secret – severe anxiety, and it’s so easy to chalk it up to some failing in myself. It wasn’t until I called my mom one night several years back, afraid I would die during the night because I couldn’t get a deep breath, that I could even admit something was wrong. It manifests itself in all sorts of unpleasant ways, and when it happens, no amount of logic can alter it.

    Your story of doing it all, being Type A+ reminds me so much of myself and my own expectations for my life. And that dratted fear. I don’t know that I could do any of what you’re doing, but I’ll say this: you continue to push the boundaries of what most would feel comfortable with. You’ve done it every day since you decided to take this trip. I can’t imagine you’d stop now.

    Jun. 10 2013 @ 12:28 pm
    1. jenn aka the picky girl author

      I focused on my depression in this post, but like many other sufferers, it went hand in hand with some serious anxiety as well, so I completely understand how you feel. Honestly, these days, I have more good days than not when it comes to my depression (every so often it comes creeping back on me and sidelines me for a little while, but mostly I am in a good place), but my anxiety has been more persistent and present. There are rarely days where I don’t have at least one moment of pure fear pierce me and a sense of uneasiness settle of me for no real reason and if I don’t deal with it then and there, it can very easily spiral out of control. I have also viewed this as a weakness or some personal failing, but I really am trying to push through it and take my life back from it. Like so many things, it is a process.

      Also, if you ever want to talk to someone about what you’re going through, someone who has grasped around blindly in that darkness for long stretches of time, please email me any time!

      Jun. 11 2013 @ 8:45 pm
  5. Steph, this was such a beautifully written post and sadly one I feel I could have written myself almost word for word. I won’t go into my story because it’s far too long and it’s too similar to yours but all I’ll say is that there are ‘others’ like you out there – we’re out here and we’re staying strong and facing fears even when they scare the hell out of us.
    We can do it!
    I really am so glad that I stumbled on your post…I had tears in my eyes when I read your shadow ‘theory’ for your fears because it’s so true…some days you can walk with your head held high with nothing in your way and other days your shadow won’t let you do anything. I feel you; I really do x

    Jun. 10 2013 @ 1:40 pm
    1. Toni author

      Thanks for your supportive comment, Toni. It is always really rewarding to hear from readers who have connected with something I have written and feel that my own personal truth accurately reflects their own. For so long I saw what I suffered as a sign of weakness, because of how crippling it has been at times, but now on good days I can see that if anything, all of this is just a testament to my strength. Because you’re right, we have to deal with a hell of a lot, but we manage and refuse to let it beat us even when we are terrified. As Tony always says to me, that is the true sign of courage. Good luck to you on your own journey, and thank you again for reaching out.

      Jun. 11 2013 @ 8:49 pm
  6. Steph, thank you for your post. I’m sure there are many of us who can relate and your post inspires us in ways that cannot be adequately articulated here.

    Jun. 10 2013 @ 3:44 pm
    1. Kathleen author

      Thanks, Kathleen. I am sure that my post speaks not just for myself, but for many others out there who are not able to share their own struggles, failings, and triumphs. I am glad that my words have meant something to you, and your comment means a lot to me!

      Jun. 11 2013 @ 8:50 pm
  7. I wish I could give you a big hug right now! You are so not alone in your struggles and there’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Safe journey to India and wherever this path leads you. Don’t think about failure. Just showing up and trying is the biggest success.

    Jun. 11 2013 @ 12:21 am
    1. Colleen author

      Along with my many issues, I’m also a crazy perfectionist, and for a while it got so bad that if I didn’t think I could do something perfectly or completely right, I wouldn’t even attempt it. My thinking was that if I don’t try, then I can’t fail. But of course, the flip side is that if you don’t try, you also can’t succeed, and you miss out on so many experiences and opportunities that way too. I’m trying to remind myself that it’s not the failing that’s so bad, but the never having tried at all!

      Jun. 11 2013 @ 8:53 pm
  8. This is beautiful. I can only imagine the courage it must have taken to write something like this. While I was reading it, I started thinking about all the personal things I could write about in terms of facing fears, transparency and honesty. I don’t think I could do it. I’m sure so many people can relate to what you wrote about here, and will find inspiration in your words and courage. Good luck as you continue to conquer your fears, and look forward to hearing about the meditation retreat. It is also something I have thought about, but similarly I’m not drawn to the idea of being separated from Dan for so long. Good for you for making the commitment!

    Jun. 11 2013 @ 2:50 am
    1. Casey @ A Cruising Couple author

      It definitely was scary to press “publish” on this post, though it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve bared a part of my soul to you readers! 😉 The internet is a tricky place because we can so easily hide the parts of ourselves that we don’t want others to know about, but what I’ve found is that even when something is intensely personal, there has always been someone out there who completely understands what you’re going through. And the only way to find them is to reach out and show your true face. There is comfort in knowing I am not alone in this, that there are many things that make me unique, but my fears are not one of them!

      Still not loving being apart from Tony for 10 days (we’ve never been apart for that long in our entire relationship!), but I think the end result will be worth it. I guess we’ll find out!

      Jun. 11 2013 @ 8:57 pm
  9. Thank you for sharing! Good for you for realizing that these issues aren’t something to be ashamed of. Though American society seems to want to tell you different… My brother has struggled with depression. Since discovering that, I have had this fear that maybe something is wrong with me too. But then I began to realize that there’s nothing “wrong” with being different, and nobody’s really “normal” so I’m working on banning those words in terms of people’s personalities in my thoughts and words. I’m kind of neurotic and that’s okay!

    Jun. 11 2013 @ 3:39 am
    1. Rachel author

      Yes, I think there has been a lot of talk about accepting people with depression and anxiety, how it’s not something people choose, it’s a mental disorder, one with a genuine biological basis, but still, I feel there is a stigma attached to it. While we would probably still not blame the person who gets lung cancer (even if they smoked packs of cigarettes every day), I feel like there is still this notion that people who “succumb” to depression and anxiety are just mentally weak or don’t have mental fortitude to NOT be depressed and anxious. I struggle with how to think of it, because one the one hand, it’s not my fault that I have to deal with this, and yes, it really is beyond my control and I think I am pretty mentally strong yet that isn’t enough. Yet I also balk at the thought that I have an actual illness, because I don’t like to think of myself as mentally ill or suffering a mood disorder or anything like that. So, it’s a tricky thing to deal with, not just because of society, but because of who I am too.

      Jun. 11 2013 @ 9:02 pm
  10. Wow, Steph. This is a great post and one that obviously is held very close to your heart.

    I’ve spent a lot of time in therapy and I try my hardest to allow myself to admit it and not be ashamed of it (obviously when it comes up, it’s not like I run around with a sign on my chest). Anyway, I’ve gone through some serious bouts of depression for a number of reasons, but regardless of the situation, return to a very similar place in my struggles. I think describing it as a shadow is a very accurate analogy.

    What greater fear to take on than your own head? I’ve thought about retreats, but more along the lines of a yoga retreat because I tend to quiet my mind most when in motion. I haven’t really tried mindful meditation, though. I’m very excited to hear how this retreat will go for you.

    Jun. 13 2013 @ 10:45 am
    1. Carmel author

      Thank you so much for your comment, Carmel. It makes me so sad that for so many of us for whom therapy has been such a boon, we still feel ashamed about our having gone. I know this is true for me, even though I truly wound up loving my therapy sessions and felt that they helped me grow and understand myself so much better. I actually wish everyone could (and would!) go to therapy, because while I don’t think everyone would benefit from it, I am pretty sure most would!

      Tony & I started dabbling with yoga when we left on the road, and once I am back in fighting form, it’s something I definitely want to incorporate back into my life. I wasn’t very good at it, but I did generally feel a bit calmer and centered after I had done it, and it makes a natural complement to mindfulness meditation.

      Jun. 14 2013 @ 9:23 pm
  11. This is a wonderful story to share, Steph. I think many people can identify with what you went through, or at least I can. You effectively put me in your shoes for 10 minutes while also calling out my own insecurities. I don’t know how you did it, but kudos to you ;-).

    I have thought about meditation retreats, and Kim and I even looked into a few while in India. Frankly, they scared the crap out of me. I now enough of myself that 10 days wi th nothing but my own thoughts would probably do more harm than good right now – but I am not ruling it out some time down the line either. Good luck!

    Jun. 13 2013 @ 8:03 pm
    1. Brian author

      Thank you for your comment, Brian. I am really glad that my post resonated with you and that you identified with parts of it. This story feels so personal to me, but since sharing it, I have realized just how many people it speaks to and for as well outside of myself.

      I wound up switching advisors in graduate school, and I loved my second advisor who offered me all the support and constructive guidance that my first did not. I told her when I began practicing mindfulness meditation, and she said something similar to you—that if she stopped and really sat with herself, she probably wouldn’t like what she heard, so for now at least, she just keeps herself busy and steers clear of meditation. Though it has been so helpful for me, I can definitely understand her (and your!) point of view! 🙂

      Jun. 14 2013 @ 9:34 pm
  12. Lovely, wonderful and brave post Steph. I have so much respect for you for sharing your story, I know how hard it is to share these things that you have kept hidden, but I know releasing it like this will just help to free you. Thank you for sharing with us.

    Jun. 16 2013 @ 3:44 am
    1. Kim author

      Thanks for your supportive comment, Kim. It’s true that by keeping all of this to myself, I have also ensured that I have kept all of this with me. Even now I have to acknowledge that I still struggle with everything I have been through, and part of that is simply because I am still embarrassed of the nature of my battle. I think I have sometimes conflated “acceptance” with “complacency”, even though the two are not the same. I hope that by sharing my story, I am able to find a new level of closure and can bring a little less baggage with me into the future.

      Jun. 17 2013 @ 10:23 am
  13. Great post Steph, I can see why publishing this must have been so difficult. A couple of weeks ago I re-read Eat, Pray, Love in Ubud and reading your account of depression reminded me of that. The idea of a meditation retreat in India sounds pretty scary to me though, I’m intrigued to hear about what you make of it and of India – a place we’re also a bit nervous to visit!

    Jun. 16 2013 @ 7:35 am
    1. Amy author

      I remember watching the EPL movie and feeling like the time in India seemed so hokey and cliché, and now look at me! 😉 I am definitely nervous for everything India will entail, but I’m also excited to meet it head on and to try something new. I figure that if travel doesn’t involve a tiny bit of fear, then you’re doing something wrong!

      Jun. 17 2013 @ 10:25 am
  14. Steph, I finally got a chance to read this. Wow. I’m honestly a little bit speechless to read my name in your post as the trigger for this piece of writing. All I can say is that you had me gripped from the start. I know it probably wasn’t easy to write, but thank you for taking us on your journey. I’m so thrilled you participated, and judging by the comments, so are a lot of others.

    Aaaand I’m so inspired by your mindfulness meditation and by your adventure, which is something I’ve always wanted to do myself. I found a beautiful little spot tucked away in nature just north of Chiang Mai while on a motorcycle trip in the region, and I was immediately taking by the quiet, stunning surroundings. This place is a little more flexible than other retreats—you can talk (quietly and infrequently), and you can stay for as long as you like. Trouble is, I can’t remember the name of the place!

    Jun. 17 2013 @ 9:10 am
    1. Torre – Fearful Adventurer author

      Thank you so much for your words of support, Torre. I admit I had been thinking about writing this post for a while, but your call to action really gave me the push I needed to let go and throw myself headfirst into my fear once more. I read this great quote a while back about how the only real way to conquer fear is to walk straight through it, and your competition definitely forced me to do it.

      We’ll actually be heading up to Chiang Mai in a couple of days, so maybe while we’re there I’ll be able to uncover this retreat you mention and can give myself a low-key taster of what I’m in for come India… I’ll let you know what my search turns up!

      Jun. 17 2013 @ 10:28 am
  15. Bravo Steph! I get this, I just want you to know that! I believe some of us need to take action to overcome our thinking and the resulting negative emotions they evoke. As you know, I am one of those people and I commend you on sharing your story. There is NO shame in either what you have gone/are going through, or in sharing about it openly. Your courage and honesty will set you free as well as give hope to countless others. I love you!! xxx

    Jun. 17 2013 @ 9:50 am
    1. Sarah Somewhere author

      Oh, Sarah—I’m so glad my post spoke to you and your enthusiasm brought a big smile to my face. I can’t wait for the day our paths cross… what a meeting of the minds that will be, eh? 🙂

      Thanks so much for your support; I know you have faced your own struggles and been so courageous. You’ve definitely been an inspiration to me on my own journey!

      Jun. 17 2013 @ 10:30 am
  16. Great post! I also submitted a post to Torre’s contest, and I can see why she chose yours as the winner .. congrats! For over 2 years, my step-mother has been suffering from what our family believes to be chronic depression and anxiety. She’s finally agreed to speak with a psychiatrist just a couple of weeks ago. I hope this will serve as an inspiration to her and others that things can get better!

    We’re about to “set sail” in 2014 and travel the Caribbean on our sailboat. I’ve often thought that backpacking in Asia would be a great option once we close the sailing chapter. The temples (I know you’ve gotten tired of them) look amazing!

    Jul. 3 2013 @ 10:47 am
    1. Mid-Life Cruising! author

      Thank you so much for your comment & for sharing your own story; I hope your step-mother’s situation improves and it is good to hear that she is finally in a place where she can accept the help she needs.

      And the temples in Asia are amazing, there is no doubt about that! We have certainly gotten tired of them on occasion, but there is a good deal of variety and diversity and every so often, we stumble across one that stops us in our tracks. We’re a bit more choosey about which ones we purposefully go visit these days, but that doesn’t mean we don’t still think they’re great!

      Jul. 4 2013 @ 11:18 pm
  17. Simply beautiful. So glad to find you. I think you might be referring to the 10-Day Vipassana courses. I did my first one in 1996 in Kathmandu, Nepal and was scared out of my mind. Hardest thing I’ve ever done, but a life-changer. Harder than traveling around the world or climbing mountains, but so worth it. Good luck to you. I know you can do it and it will be one of the most challenging, yet rewarding things you’ve ever done.

    Jul. 3 2013 @ 12:40 pm
    1. Katherine Jenkins author

      Yes, Katherine, I am referring to a 10-day Vipassana course! I’m so impressed that by the sounds of your comment you’ve done more than one, but that also gives me a sense of just how deeply it affected you. I 100% believe sitting with yourself & your breath for 10 days straight is harder than any physical challenge one might undertake, so kudos to you for meeting this challenge head on multiple times!

      Jul. 4 2013 @ 11:21 pm
  18. Wow, Steph! What an incredibly brave and well-written story. I read that you won on Torre’s site, so congrats and good luck in India!

    Jul. 3 2013 @ 1:48 pm
    1. Monica author

      Thank you so much for taking the time to visit, read and leave a comment, Monica! I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted about India when we make it there!

      Jul. 4 2013 @ 11:22 pm
  19. Hi Steph, I’m deeply touched; I don’t really know what to say.
    I’m crying because I’m thankful that I don’t have to go through that but I’m also crying bec I wish I can relate more and have something more helpful to say and do.
    All I can say is that you’re a wonderful, smart, courageous, and inspiring woman.
    I look forward to follow your journey in India.

    Jul. 3 2013 @ 9:25 pm
    1. Marisol@TravelingSolemates author

      Oh, Marisol, thank you so much for your sweet comment! Quite frankly, I am so happy that you cannot relate more, as while I know there are many many people out there who understand my situation all too well and everything I have gone through has certainly forced me to grow in ways I otherwise might not have, I would still never wish this on anyone else.

      The outpouring of support this post has received has meant so much to me and I really appreciate how heartfelt your comment is. I am nervous—but excited!—to make it to India, and of course, I’ll be sharing every step of the way here for all to read!

      Jul. 4 2013 @ 11:26 pm
  20. “‘It almost beat me. But it didn’t.’ Is there not some small triumph in that?”

    Not small at all — it’s a momentous triumph.

    Jul. 4 2013 @ 9:08 am
    1. David author

      Thanks, David. I think you’re probably right! 😉

      Jul. 4 2013 @ 11:27 pm
  21. Wow Steph. Your story is amazing, but more amazing was your guts to tell it! As many people mentioned here already, I have to imagine that telling it on such a public forum was in some ways cathartic. I really look forward to reading more of your stuff. Good luck.

    Jul. 4 2013 @ 1:57 pm
    1. Franny author

      Thanks for stopping by & taking the time to comment, Franny. You’re right that writing this post & sharing this huge secret fear was definitely cathartic, certainly in ways I didn’t initially anticipate. By sharing this post with pretty much anyone who cares to read it, it was a huge step for me in terms of cutting myself a little more free of the shame that I had been tangling myself in regarding everything I went through. It reminded me that I need to keep digging deep, doing the hard work, doing the things that scare me because ultimately, it’s the only way I can truly find peace.

      Jul. 4 2013 @ 11:30 pm
  22. Penny

    Brilliant writing – and all that courage. You have alot of people pulling for you now, Steph. Thanks for letting us in!

    Jul. 14 2013 @ 5:00 pm
  23. I followed the link in your most recent blog post to read this. I know it’s an old entry, but I just wanted to add to the discussion. I suffer from depression and anxiety also. Some days I just don’t know what the point of anything is, and some days Michael has to beg me to get up because I just don’t want to get out of bed. I’m hoping things will improve once I finish up at my job, but then I’ll have the anxiety of trying to build my alternative sources of income to pay the bills…

    Anyway, just wanted to say, you’re in good company. 🙂 It seems like a lot of us in the RTW community struggle with this – not because of travel, but rather, the depression led us to acknowledge that conventional life doesn’t work, so we are trying to find lifestyles that do.

    May. 23 2014 @ 5:13 am

We want to hear from you!

Required fields are marked with red.

Anything you share with us will not be published, traded, sold or otherwise used outside this site in any way, ever. We will not spam you.

We moderate comments, so if you haven't posted with us before and your comment doesn't show up right away, we will get to it, no need to post it twice. Thanks for your patience!

Name is required. You can only use alphanumeric characters (a-z, A-Z).