EXPIRED: 01/07/10 – Jerilyn Ross, 63, was on vacation nearly 40 years ago when she was overcome with a fear of heights. Who knew that facing that phobia would change her life, and the lives of thousands of others who deal with extreme cases of anxiety, forever?
A psychotherapist by trade, she had fears of her own, and she knew that laying on a couch and talking about them only went so far. So Ross took her patients out and into the environments that cause them anxiety. She would accompany her clients on plane trips, elevator trips, social situations, funerals, up escalators, dark movie theatres, crowded malls, driving over bridges…wherever.
Facing her own fear was a little more like a do it yourself course. On vacation in Austria, Ross, then 25, was dancing in a club with tall windows overlooking Salzburg. She suddenly felt the urge to walk to the windows and jump. For the next five years, Ross never went higher than the 10th floor of any building. Her boyfriend lived on the 22nd floor of a Manhattan high-rise. Let’s just say it didn’t last.
She managed her fear but never fully got over it.
In the 80’s she became the host of the radio show, “The Phobia Lady.” She would give common-sense advice to listeners on how to confront and overcome their fears. In 1991, she founded the Ross Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders. And just last year she published a book titled “One Less Thing to Worry About.”
Rest in Peace Ms. Ross. You deserve it.