When John’s frantic search for spiritual accomplishment delivered way more than he expected, things suddenly got extremely weird! A reality-shattering event propelled John, an ordinary twenty-two-year-old Londoner, into a terrifying world where the very fabric of reality itself could not be trusted. This sounds like fiction. It is not.
Dear Anxiety is a first-hand account of John’s extraordinary journey of recovery from an existential crisis so profound that it left most therapists clueless about where to even begin. After many years of fruitless attempts to resolve the debilitating anxiety and depression which followed, John finally met a gifted therapist who was willing and able to go with him to the complex depths of healing necessary for recovery, and he shares that journey with us in sometimes illuminating and sometimes unsettling detail.
The book touches on matters both spiritual and clinical, but deliberately leaves any conclusions about the crisis undecided. Was it just a clinical psychosis, or was it in fact a spiritual and transformational emergency? Was the healing which took place a clinical recovery, or did the shamanic and self-love work he undertook have an impact beyond the known boundaries of medicine? John presents the details of his experience and his thoughts and leaves it up to the reader to decide.
Dear Anxiety is a deep and fascinating biography but it is a “warts and all” account of a sustained period of severe struggle with poor mental health which may not be suitable for particularly fragile or anxious readers. As John points out in his introduction, this book has evoked strong emotional responses from readers. Some have said that it helped them enormously. Others have called it “harrowing.” There are failures and successes chronicled here, so it may depend on what the reader focuses on, as to what will be taken away from the book.
The intention though was to tell a story of (ultimate) hope for those who have lost theirs. In demonstrating how dark anxiety and depression can be, it was necessary to share the gory details to illustrate that recovery from even severe anxiety can be achieved. As a result it cannot be called a “light” read! Readers who have a willingness to share in some dark times will, however, be rewarded with the details and joy of the return to better days as well.
John went on to become a successful full-time professional therapist and he has been specializing in the treatment of anxiety-related disorders, helping others to successfully recover, since 2003.