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When we’re depressed, we’re afraid we’ll never feel good again. When we’re anxious, every breath invites fear.
Fear closes us down and keeps us stuck. Fear paralyzes us. When we’re unhappy at work, fear traps us. When our heart is broken, fear makes us think we’ll always be alone.
I have known fear. The youngest son of American parents, I grew up in Beirut and Tehran. I’ve lived through air raids, forced evacuations and revolutions. A bomb went off in our apartment building when I was in first grade, and when I was in fifth grade, my dad was kidnapped. During the Revolution in Iran, we watched from our house as tanks rumbled down the road to fire into the demonstrators who had gathered in the streets.
After receiving a degree in Philosophy and Italian at Wake Forest University, I moved to DC. During those years of living in an anarchist collective and working with homeless families, my life changed. One day I was a whole and healthy 25 year old with my life ahead of me, and the next day I was in the ICU unit with several broken bones, the result of a mugging gone very wrong.
And on that day, my relationship with fear, anxiety and pain changed forever and an intensely personal and practical journey began — a continuing journey of working with fear instead of closing down to it.
I started therapy, liked it so much, that I went to Naropa University’s counseling program and became a therapist. I began to practice meditation and now, more than twenty years later, I teach it as often as I can. I know what it’s like to live with pain and anxiety, and I’ve learned what brings relief and peace.
That’s my story. I am not afraid of depression, broken hearts, bad careers, or personal trauma.
And I’ll work with you until you’re not afraid, either.
Jonathan Kirkendall is a graduate of Wake Forest University and Naropa University. A member of the American Mental Health Counselors Association, he has served on the board of the DC chapter of the AMHA and is has been a student and practitioner of Buddhism since 1991.