I Wouldn’t be Where I am Today (or Alive) if it Wasn’t for this one Thing I Did - OC87 Recovery Diaries

I Wouldn’t be Where I am Today (or Alive) if it Wasn’t for this one Thing I Did

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Listen to Executive Director Gabriel Nathan read this post aloud:

I wouldn’t be where I am today (or alive) if it wasn’t for this one thing I did.

Every morning, twenty-year-old me would wake up, alone in a North Miami apartment, with the stark realization of being alive. I’d exhale a despairing breath as my entire body would sink into the bed in defeat. This was my morning routine.

I was severely depressed back then. I’d go to bed at night begging God to mercifully take me in my sleep. But each morning’s awakening seemed to confirm that either God didn’t care, or He didn’t exist. I was doomed. It lasted a decade.

Not a good place to be.

But I learned from it. I learned a lot.

The biggest thing I did, the thing that saved my life, was this:

I got help.

Not from others who hadn’t been through what I was going through.

Not from others who didn’t understand what I was going through.

Not from others who didn’t know how to help.

And definitely not from myself.

I went around and around in circles trying to “fix” the problem on my own, but I was of the same mind and energy that created the problem, so I invariably made it worse.

Seems odd to say, but some therapists made it worse.

And most well-meaning friends and family made it worse, too.

Meditation helped, but it was a slow crawl out of a dark pit.

It wasn’t until I finally found the right therapist, when I was in my late twenties, that things truly started to turn around in a big way.

On my first visit, she taught me about generational trauma and told me that I soaked up the energy of my mother in her womb, along with that of the environment outside us. I was born in Vietnam during the War, and the energy surrounding my beginnings was that of fear, suffering, violence, trauma, and grief.

The impact of war on my family, particularly my parents, has had a profound influence on my life. My dad was an American soldier in the Air Force. He enlisted in the war to serve his country and met my mom there. Despite the chaos and cruelty of war, along with the language barrier, they married and had three girls together. I was four years old when Vietnam fell and we moved to the United States, only to discover that there was a different war on American soil. In kindergarten, my teacher told me my dad was a “baby killer” and while I was too young to understand her words, I felt the heaviness of her hatred.

The rage over the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War and the shame felt by many in America permeated my being and I soaked it in, not knowing how to separate my emotions from those of others, or at that young age, even understanding the difference or what was happening.

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I understood the meaning of being empathic and highly sensitive. I was a sponge for society’s emotions.

While everyone I had talked to before asked, “Why are you so depressed?”, my therapist said, “No wonder you’re depressed.” In that absolute matter-of-fact acceptance of it, something essential in me loosened, and I cried.

For an hour.

She was the first person who allowed me to be depressed without trying to fix me or figure out a solution, or subtextually accuse me of having not earned the “right” to be depressed in the first place. She sat with me in her office as I cried myself dry, allowing me to experience pain and sorrow unconditionally, without judgment, analysis, or the need to say or do “the right thing” or, well, anything, except be there.

When my time was up, she gently asked me to come back the following week. So I did.

 

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It was the first time in a long time that I not only felt hope, but that I wanted to feel hope. Usually, when you’re at the bottom, you don’t care to feel hope. But this sense of wanting inside me, taking delight in the fact that I felt hope, was like a little flame revealing a glimmer of light.

All I did was cry during our session, but something had changed.

In prior years, I had shed infinite tears on my own couch and other therapists’ couches, but this was different. This type of crying felt purposeful as if there was a mysterious unknown and meaningful reason behind the tears.

The next visit, I sobbed on her couch again. Except, this time, I remember at one point not even knowing why I was sad anymore. But as sorrow kept rising and filling me up from deep within, I kept crying.

It was like going to the beach and digging a hole in the sand near the water. At first, it’s empty, but then water seeps up from the bottom, and then you scoop it out with your hands until it’s empty again, only for water to seep in again a few moments later.

It felt like I was scooping out sorrow from the bottomless pit of my heart.

She gave me a safe space to explore my pain and encouraged me, with complete acceptance, to feel it and let it out.

During our sessions in the months ahead, she helped me mourn for the loss of a country I could barely remember, millions of lives I had never met, and the innocence of a highly sensitive, empathic child born into a war. She gave me permission to weep for reasons I didn’t understand and she told me that I needed to make peace with pain and the conditions in which I was born.

I didn’t even know I had been at war with that, but my crying proved otherwise.

The heaviness of my depression began lifting, and for those who have experienced this type of a clearing from their depression, the song lyric, “I can see clearly now the rain is gone,” has become a battle cry with deep resonance. Johnny Nash must’ve been through the same thing for him to describe it so perfectly.

I’m in my fifties now and I can truly say that getting the right help saved my life. Back then, energy healers weren’t a thing. At least, if they were, not many people knew about it. And if they knew about it, it was considered snake oil. But now that I understand energy, I’m convinced my therapist was an energy healer. Even though we talked a lot, much of the deep work was done quietly, in the mysterious backdrop of her acceptance and allowance of my emotions. She was an LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist) and didn’t advertise herself as an energy healer, but there are many healers out there in different professions and different walks of life who might not even know about energy healing, however, their work can still heal something inside you, as if they’re intuitively mending a broken soul.

It’s because of her significant impact on me that I began studying trauma, emotions, and energy and have now become a coach to others who are seeking that type of help.

If you’re currently struggling with depression or know someone who is, here are some things that helped me the most when I was in the midst of it.

You are not alone. Most people who are struggling with depression think they’re the only ones who feel what they’re feeling and going through what they’re going through. This magnifies their feelings of isolation and their sense of being alone and misunderstood in the world, and that causes them to go deeper into depression. The truth is many others are experiencing similar struggles. Sites like this one are crucial in helping people break through these misperceptions.

Sometimes it’s okay not to get out of bed. I remember when just the idea that I had to get out of bed and put on pants was a monumental, seemingly impossible task. But I forced myself to do it because everyone said I needed to. It didn’t make me feel better, it just made me feel compliant. Sometimes it’s a win to get out of bed and prove that your depression doesn’t control you. And sometimes it’s helpful to give in and surrender, let go of the resistance and just let it be. Not every day, but just one day every now and then, of pure and total surrender to it can do wonders in lightening the load, releasing the constant pressure of having to pretend to be okay.

Get qualified help. As described in my story, the right help offered me a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. It course-corrected me and set me on the path through the darkness. Find someone who understands the importance of holding space for your emotions, whether it’s a therapist, counselor, healer or coach. It might sound a bit spiritually “woo-woo” but I truly believe the old saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” I was depressed for nearly a decade and tried multiple therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists before I found my teacher in the form of a therapist, but when it was time, it was like a doorway opened up in my soul and she walked in.

​EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR / EDITOR: Gabriel Nathan | DESIGN: Leah Alexandra Goldstein | SITE ORIGINATOR: Bud Clayman

 

 

Tree Franklyn is a bestselling author, coach and founder of the Empathic Awakening Academy. She helps sensitive, empathic people master their energy so they can heal their past and create a new and empowered future. She’s been featured in ABC, NBC, The Huffington Post, The Shift Network, Authority Magazine, and more, and is best known for her down-to-earth practical healing methods that create deep, transformational growth for her clients and students.