The magnificence of nature. Took this photo on a walk.
It reminds me of this famous saying by Lao Tsu.
"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."
I don't struggle anymore with the kind of depression I had in my twenties and early thirties — triggered by a traumatic event in my third year at university. It was a trauma that was one too many traumas.
Along with drinking and a broken heart, I fell apart.
I wasn't suicidal. But I didn't want to be on this earth and often I wished it was my time.
"I can't live like this for another 50 years." was a recurring thought.
I cried so much over those years. And when I didn't have work I wouldn't get out of bed. I didn't know how to be around people.
It was this unbearable feeling that began my journey to healing.
New beginnings (35 years old)
A few years later, I got sober, gave up cigarettes, meat, fish, eggs and dairy. I didn't do these things to heal my depression. Something HAD to shift.
- I got sober to save myself from doing something I'd regret.
- I gave up smoking to get my lungs back so I could breathe.
- I gave up animal products so I could reclaim my humanity. So I could heal the spiritual damage caused by killing and causing suffering.
I didn't know it when I did it, but these decisions went a long way to balance my chemistry.
In that same summer, I started my first self-help books:
+ "Shadow Work". Working with Your Shadow: An Imperative on the Spiritual Path by Lazaris
+ Better Boundaries: Owning and Treasuring Your Life BY Jan Black
+ The Road Less Traveled by Scott Peck
These books empowered me to own my life. I threw myself into daily practical exercises.
This was the summer of my awakening. A book called 'The Key to Immediate Enlightenment' crossed my path. I wanted a spiritual teacher. And I found one.
From the moment I read the first page, I knew I was in the right place. This book explained meditation and the different roads we can take. It affirmed my decision to change my lifestyle.
I immediately arranged to learn how to meditate.
The heavy part of my depression lifted. And, with patience, a holistic approach and time, my depression eventually healed.
I do still feel overwhelmed by life sometimes and can feel low. I've learned over the years how to manage it when those lows hit. Life can be hard at the best of times.
I often wonder where I would be if I hadn’t had the love and support from family and friends. And where would I be if I had continued to drink, smoke and eat meat. I especially wonder where I’d be if the right books hadn’t come along at just the right time — especially the one that introduced me to THAT specific meditation.
I know many are not so lucky.
I look back sometimes and know my story could have had a very different ending.
I’m tremendously grateful for every person who has shaped my life. I walk on your shoulders.
I don’t know what will work for you. What I can tell you is that I didn’t give up. And I spoke to anyone who would listen.
If you’re struggling right now or if you want to share what worked, share your story below.
To your love and healing...
...So much love
Jo Ntsebeza is a qualified professional coach, facilitator, trainer and lay counsellor.
All works are copyrighted. You may quote me or use no more than a paragraph with a link to the article on my website.