I’m Maria Dennis, creator of ZaZegga, founder of the World Well Being Movement and I have a story to tell.
Creator & Founder.
The story of my radical approach to healing from mental breakdown.
I’m Maria and I have a story to tell. It’s a story of a crisis of being in the world. This story was private and personal and was never going to be shared with the world, but when the global mental health crisis emerged, I felt compelled to get involved.
There is a long backstory, but this post isn’t the place for that. What’s pertinent is how my crisis of being manifested itself. It started with panic attacks in my teens, as a repeating pattern of being in unhappy relationships, of chronic and at times frightening anxiety, in numerous bouts of depression, in persistent suicidal thoughts which acted out in a what should have been fatal car accident, in an encounter with madness and eventually a complete and total unravelling. Despite all of this I functioned in the world quite well, I was very adept at hiding my inner world and at presenting to the world the person I expected me to be. Only on three occasions did I seek help, a call to the Samaritans and two visits to my doctor. The first one when the anxiety became so overwhelming it frightened me and the second when a doctor friend of mine suggested I should after I described to him how I had broken down and felt on the brink of ‘going mad’. For the anxiety my doctor referred me to a clinical psychologist who taught me a useful practise to help to alleviate the crisis element of it. The second time, he told me I was suffering with depression and prescribed me anti-depressants and 6 sessions with a counsellor – though he said it would most likely not help me but there was nothing else he could offer. He was right, it didn’t help me, I always came out feeling worse than when I went in. This is one of the side effects of talking therapies, it can be like picking a scab, you sort of manage to paper over your problems so you can cope and function and then you have to painfully pick it off in front of a stranger leaving the raw wound exposed again.
I was very adept at hiding my inner world and at presenting to the world the person they expected me to be.
As for the anti-depressants, they made me feel so bad, I had a 4-day admission to hospital for some very strange and unnerving symptoms. I did some research on the tablets I was on and they had been linked to an increase in suicide. So I wasn’t that comfortable taking them and most of all I could see no way that a pill could solve my crisis of being. Sure for some they are a vital lifeline, but I didn’t want to feel medicated and I found it very hard to sign over my entire well being to a chemical and a counsellor. After 3 months I decided to throw the tablets away and go on a motorcycle trip, riding pillion on the back of a Ducati sports bike down to Northern Italy – I had always wanted to taste an authentic Italian pizza – the little things in life are often the best. I came back revitalised but with a very numb bum. At this point I decided that if I was going to live, to feel the way I knew must be possible, only I could make that happen. This was the beginning of years of personal exploration, of learning, of seeking, of healing. I explored the spiritual, the esoteric, Indigenous science and wisdom, philosophy, quantum mechanics, anthroposophical medicine, energy psychology and spent a great deal of time journaling and being with myself, expanding my conscious awareness. I wanted to understand pain and suffering, why my life was as it was and how I could make it different, how I could change my story to be the one that I wanted it to be.
I didn’t wake up one morning and say, hurray I’m healed; it unfolded over time. It felt like an incredible gift that had emerged from deep within me. It had been profound, torturous, inspirational and very hard won. We talk glibly about transformation; I think too lightly sometimes. Nature’s transformations truly are an emergence of something unrecognisable from what preceded it. That’s how I feel.
I wanted to understand pain and suffering, why my life was as it was and how I could make it different, how I could change my story to be the one that I wanted it to be.
Fast forward to 2017 and I was hearing more and more about people struggling with their mental health. Quite shocking statistics, people committing suicide while they were waiting for an appointment with their doctor, huge numbers of people on anti-depressants and everywhere it seemed people were talking about suffering with anxiety. The deeply curious part of me wanted to understand why this was and the healing part of me wanted to help. Could I make an impact on this problem? I could but it had to be practical. I had read so many books that were very interesting, but there was rarely more than a tiny nugget that I could put to practical use. I wanted to be able to inspire people to heal, to empower them to be self-reliant and to reframe the problem and change the conversation. It would prove to be a monumental challenge to distil the depth and complexity of what I had discovered and to present it as a practise, real, tangible that anyone could grasp and could use. Feeling daunted but excited I decided to do it, then I stepped into action and three years later ZaZegga is here.
ZaZegga is an online programme that expertly guides you through a path to inner fitness. It isn’t just for people who are experiencing mental health issues, it’s a programme that radically re-orientates you to your true nature of wholeness and inner strength. We are near obsessed these days with mindfulness and mindset and mental health. ZaZegga opens you to so much more of what it is to be human. Through a new understanding of your Integrated Intelligence, of the heart as the centre of this; of the layers of personality and need that shape your experience of being and to the resources that you have within you.
I have long been uneasy with the language of mind and mental health. I feel it is very confining and doesn’t reflect the true nature of what is going on. More so now than ever as this pandemic brings with it a collective crisis of being in the world. We are being confronted with our vulnerability, individually and collectively. Beyond the very real worries of how we navigate the change in our circumstances, we have questions of why this is happening, why are some people suffering and dying and not others, what does all this mean? These are questions that transcend the mind, they are the searching of our souls, of the deep human need to find meaning. And these all have their attendant feelings, anxiety, sadness, tearfulness, anger, grief, despair and many others. It’s the feelings that we’re aware of, that we don’t like and seek to be free from.
More so now than ever as this pandemic brings with it a collective crisis of being in the world. We are being confronted with our vulnerability, individually and collectively.
Even before this I was passionate about the need to expand our language and the whole landscape of mental health to a broader and more inclusive one. It jars with me on the news reports telling us to look after our physical and mental health – this duality is limiting and sounds superficial and inadequate both for this time and for the global problem. This is why I talk about being human, of wholeness, and of psychological well-being - Psykhe was the Greek goddess of the soul. And ZaZegga opens us up to this richer experience and it’s healing potential.