In this article, I will teach you the simple step by step process of how I finally found internal peace and how you can too! After 40+ years of living with severe, debilitating depression I have clearly outlined what brought me through it to a life of peace and happiness.
This is not an overnight fix, but a very simple effective process, once you know the steps! Don’t give up! It’s worth it, I promise!
I’ll share each of the steps, so you can work along as we go. I’m so excited to share these tools, so that you won’t have to go as many years as I did, suffering while trying to seek the answers!
Grab a pen and notepad so as we go along, you can create your wellness tool. Leave some space between lines so you can go back and add new thoughts / memories that pop up at random times, as they often will!
Writing as you go, will help you during the healing process. It will allow you to review it as often as you feel the need. Sorta like a therapy journal.
I’ll start by saying that my article is mainly for those of you who live with depression mainly, but my principles can be very insightful, and helpful to everyone. I’m writing this based solely on my experiences, and my intentions are not to offend or upset anyone.
Trauma vs Chemical
Over many years of severe depression, from 11 years old until the age of 32, I finally gave-in to the scary fact that my depression maybe more than a result of a very traumatic childhood.
I graduated nursing school when I was 29, and I began my career employed in a clinic. During the next 3 years, I’d discover that mental health issues were not as rare as I’d always thought.
Part of my job was to pre-screen patients prior to them seeing the doctor. During these screenings, I realized that I wasn’t alone! As a matter of fact, more people than not, were taking some sort of medication due to one or more mental health issues. It blew my mind! It’s truly an epidemic.
Although I was very saddened by this discovery, I was hopeful that seeing as there’s so many people like me out there, maybe I could be helped. Maybe I had a chemical imbalance? After all, it ran in my family, on both sides.
When I was a baby, my mother tried to take her life, so my sister and I were split up and put into foster care. My mom was put in a “mental institution” and treated with rounds of electroshock therapy!
I was terrified that this was gonna be me, and that one day, I’d die in a lockdown unit. I wasn’t sure that I’d ever get the courage to tell anyone how messed up I felt because I didn’t want that label or stigma. I was super embarrassed and too afraid to admit that I was one of “them”!
It took me three years of working in the clinic, but eventually, it got so bad that I had to tell someone. All I thought about was suicide. I was at work one day and for weeks, I had felt like I was losing my mind. So, at the end of my shift, I mustard up all the courage I could and asked to speak to the clinic doctor. He knew as everyone knew me, always joking, smiling and happy, so to see me crying my eyes out, he knew I needed help!
That day I began what would become a 20 year off / on trial and error. I tried a variety of meditations, but after 9 years, I finally found the right pill. It was a long process let me tell you. But so worth it. I wanted to stand on the rooftop and scream it to the world NOT to GIVE UP! It was the first time in 20 years that I knew what it felt like to be normal! To wake up and have new found energy, and the motivation was something I’d never known!
I won’t get into how my mental illness has adversely affected my family, but I’m sure you have an idea.
Fast forward to age 52, and I’m proud to say, that through many years of hell, hard work and NOT giving up, I hit that place where a switch went on and I’m no longer on meds, but I’m living in the moment! So, although there might be a chemical imbalance, it doesn’t mean you cannot free yourself with mindfulness and determination. I’m proof that traumatic childhoods and chemical imbalances are not a life sentence for depression.
When you were born you were totally dependent on your parents / family to provide you with all your basic needs for survival ie. food, shelter, safety etc. These things are required for basic survival however; the amount of nurturing love you received is what determines your self-worth, and ultimately a healthy mind.
As a new born, and through the early years, you’re very pure with no pre-conceived thoughts, or knowledge. You started your journey with a clean slate, and as you grew, your environment taught you about you and life.
Your lessons came from many experiences, both good and bad.
So how exactly did you come to be a mental mess? Well, in short, all of your interactions, and experiences taught you to be a mess! You learned how to behave, how to act / react, how to protect yourself, how to survive, how to suppress, how to love / be loved etc. All of these experiences played a key role in the belief system that would become your guide.
Your way of thinking, your reactions and your disposition are all reflective of what you were exposed to at an early age, and how you were taught to process and cope through difficult experiences.
Were you alone in this complex process? Did anyone teach you how to process all the shit you had to deal with? Probably not, I’m thinking!
If you had a loving, nurturing family who taught you to problem solve, and supported you in all emotional needs, you’d be way more likely to develop a healthy happy mind. On the other hand, if you were in an abusive, unhealthy environment, with lack of support, then you only learn survival techniques.
Toxic environments are so stressful that it doesn’t allow for you to develop proper coping mechanism due to its often, chaotic nature. Your mind is wrapped up in trying to understand the why’s and how’s of what’s happening, never mind figuring out coping skills or this positive self-talk stuff!
The chaos leads to stress, and stress leads to more stress, and before you know it, you’re curled into a ball wanting to escape your mind. And sadly, through your experiences you begin to blame yourself for how you were treated.
Here’s what I mean!
A) If your dad beat you…you’re angry, you hate, but you begin to justify his actions by believing that perhaps you deserved what you got. Why else would he beat you?
OR, you think that he doesn’t love you, you’re not worthy of love.
B) Perhaps you were sexually abused, but when you told your mother about it, she didn’t believe you or maybe she just brushed it off. So, now you justify that feeling; it must have been your fault or surely, he wouldn’t have touched you and she would’ve protected you!
With ALL abuse and neglectful situations, you go through so many self-loathing emotions. You feel worthless, helpless, shameful and many other toxic things. So, as you go through more and more traumatic experiences, you gradually build all these stories, about yourself, in your mind. Then, as time goes on, you replay these excruciatingly painful stories over and over, trying to make peace with them, but ultimately the stories turn into beliefs.
Sadly, what you came to believe about yourself was based on how you were treated.
You certainly didn’t come out of the womb with a “fucked up head”! You were completely “conditioned” by everything you were told, and how you were treated and you subconsciously adopted these stories to be truths, because you didn’t know any better.
Let’s say that you were born on a desert island, abandoned and raised by animals, would you think like you do now? NO, you’d develop your OWN stories about yourself. Do you see where I’m going with this? Makes sense right? Okay, so now that I’ve turned your lightbulb on, let’s explore what happened!
I want you to make a list! Write down as many of the negative stories that you’ve come to believe about yourself. Do the list and then continue on reading.
Here’s a few of mine:
I’m unworthy of love
I’m lazy (still am) 😊
I’m not a good friend
I’m a mistake
I’m unlikable etc.
As you were writing those beliefs down, I bet that you associated specific memories came flooding back, with each belief?
Okay, so now I want you to go to your list and write down whatever you remember about the first time you felt this feeling!
A) who said / did what? (list all separately under each belief, with space to write) B) how old were you?
C) how did you feel?
Complete all, or as many as you can. You can always do one-a-day to break it up.
Okay, now … This is where I want you to take each item, one by one, close your eyes and see yourself as that child. I want you to take hold of that child’s hands and look them in the eye! Now, tell that child the loving story that they should have been told! Show them compassion and understanding through words. Hug them and tell them that you love them, and that you will always be there for them! Tell them that what happened was NOT their fault! As you do this, you may feel an overwhelming array of emotions, so go ahead and let them out!
Next, have that child tell the person / people exactly what’s on his / her mind… yell, scream, jump, stomp… whatever!
Once that is completed visualize your inner child forgiving their offender. Vocalize the words used, saying that they forgive them for…(Even if you don’t feel forgiving). With time and practice, that child (you) will let it go!
It helps in understanding, that the person(s) who hurt you is also on a life journey, where they also have their own demons that others gave them. They’ve got their own truckload of baggage (just like you), and you just happened to be the easy target for them to take it out on!
Your healing process has started! Congratulations on the first steps! Keep your list somewhere, so that each day, you can review and practice this process of letting go. It will happen quicker than you think!
Understanding that we’ve been conditioned (brainwashed in a sense) to believe our thoughts, is a falsehood. There is zero truth to those stories! We weren’t born with those beliefs! We were born only with innocence, love and with joy in our hearts. You still are that baby underneath all these adopted stories. Change that story and clear that slate and create a new story (belief)!
Here’s another very important point! To move on in healing, you must forgive yourself!
If you’re living with guilt from the things you’ve done to others, you need to find a way to forgive yourself, or the guilt will stay with you and prevent total healing.
Understand, that it wasn’t your fault! It was your beat-up, injured soul, that was retaliating against whomever, because of your pain and its association with past painful experiences. As we grow from childhood into adults, we develop behaviours as a direct result of these hurts.
Your old scars hold every memory, and so every time you find that you’re over-reacting, it’s because subconsciously they’re bringing you back to a place of great pain. When that happens, be mindful and go back to a time when you felt the same! It will bring you not only an awareness, but it will help you change your reactions.
Here’s another example: if you grew up with someone who teased you for being overweight, you have a previously developed childhood pain that comes flooding back when someone says anything similar, thus causing you to react. So if today, someone made a comment towards fat people, you’d react with the same coping mechanism you learned back then: anger, isolation, avoidance, alcoholism, comfort eating etc.
If you want to heal completely, you must make amends with those that you’ve hurt. Help them to understand that the way you’ve been living / acting has not been you, but a direct result of your pain. Point out the way you feel when they say / do things that hurt. I’m not saying to tolerate their abuse, but if you give them reasons you react the way you do, it gives them the chance to change the way they treat you. If they’re not open or receptive to your apology, then at least you’ve cleared your conscience and you can move on.
If for some reason, such as a death, you are unable to to apologize, you can write them a heartfelt letter and either burn it, tear it up or put it in a bottle and send it out to the sea. It will help you to let it go, and forgive yourself.
Breathe in, know that you’re human! We are ALL on our own learning paths, and we’ve ALL fucked up here and there! It’s not about what you did, it’s about learning from it!
CHOOSE POSITIVE PEOPLE
Choosing to make this transition of self-love, requires a few important choices! If, in your circle, you find that you can’t be yourself or speak your mind (for fear of judgement, retaliation, abandonment etc.) then separate yourself from those people! It’s OK to walk away! Anyone that leaves you with an uncomfortable feeling, is not worth keeping around. Choose uplifting, positive friends to hang with.
Also, STAY off of any social media that brings you down! This is important for you to be successful in healing. It causes you to compare your life to theirs, and until you reach your happy state of mind, it will drag you down.
I’ve had to walk away from many people I love! As a matter of fact, my entire family! It was the hardest choice, but by far the best choice! You can’t choose your family, but it doesn’t mean you have to put up with abuse! Trust me, if you’re always trying to please your friends OR your family, you’ll always be the one to suffer! Let them go! It’ll be a weight off your shoulders while you gain strength.
Once you’re stronger and you’ve gained your inner strength, inner love, confidence, & understanding, you can always try to rekindle those relationships again.
When all is said and done, incredibly, you’ll be able to brush off people’s irritating ways much more easily with your new found confidence! Because, as you NOW know, they’re also on their own life journey! Remember that!
During this time of healing, as hard and as painful as it will be at times, force yourself to spend as much time as you can, just being alone with your thoughts! You may go through times that you think you’re going to totally lose your mind, or you may go into a temporarily deeper depression, but this is part of this battle and it will resolve!
During this time, practice thinking loving kind thoughts for everyone! The reason I say this, is that … if you feel envy, jealousy, hate, you will not feel good. And, you will be in a viscous cycle of doing bad, feeling bad, forgiving yourself and more negative self-talk. I promise you that the more kindness you practice, (thought and action wise), it’ll reinforce what an amazing person you really are!
Just know that you will come out of this in a brand new light, feeling like the world is yours!
This is something I found on the challenging side, but with practice it’s incredible how it comes together!
I want you to be mindful of your thoughts! You know … those stories you’ve been telling yourself for years?! STOP! As soon as you begin to notice negative self talk, visualize a huge red stop sign and redirect your thoughts onto a positive , loving story. At first, you will find yourself some way into the thought, before you realize that you’re doing it. But, the more you practice the quicker you’ll pick up on them.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
The one thing I want to tell you before finishing up here, is that you will be amazed at how nothing will ever affect you the same way again! You will have such a great inner strength and self love that nobody will be able to alter it!
Eventually, you will have so much peace in knowing that you won’t get angry or upset about others actions / words! Why? Because you know that this is their learning curve in life’s process, and they will have to face their own demons at some point, just as you have, or live in misery!
Blessings and peace to you all!