Understanding Depression and the Sinking I Can’t Breathe Feeling


dragged under by depression

Depression began at a very young age for me. I think that fact added to the belief that I was somehow defective and different from other people. 

Depression always began with a sinking feeling. Sometimes I fought it. When I fought depression it felt like I was fighting in a mud bog and I was too tired to battle my way out. It felt like my legs were tangled up in vines or underwater foliage and I couldn’t get free of them. They were pulling me under. I could see and feel hands grabbing at me, trying to drag me down.  “Something” or “someone” was pulling me under.

Sometimes I felt like someone was sitting on my chest and holding me down. Holding me back; Keeping me under; I felt like I was fighting just to be seen. I felt like I was drowning in a deep black swamp and people were standing around but they didn’t notice me. People, only a few feet away and they could not see how close to death that I was. And they didn’t CARE. They were laughing and talking as though they were at a cocktail party and no one cared that I was thrashing around, fighting for my life and sinking in that swamp.

Many times I thought it would be so much easier just to give in and let the dark water close over me. But it never took me completely. No matter how tired I got, I lived a partial death but complete escape from the dark was not attainable.

That was before……..

That was before I found out how I ended up in that swamp

That was before I found out who “they” were ~ the ones who stood around laughing and talking while I was drowning, sinking, and dying only mere feet away.

That was before I fought for my life and fought to find the truth about how I could escape that oppression and darkness that I lived in for so long.

Depression almost killed me but I didn’t know that depression itself was “a result” of something. There was a root to depression ~ there was a reason that depression was so prevalent in my life.

I wanted “someone” to save me and I felt guilty and unjustified in wanting that. I also felt like I was not worth saving. There were roots to those conflicting thoughts too;

  1.  I had been taught growing up that I was nothing without “them” that I needed “them” (people, relatives, adults, teachers) in order to survive. I had been taught to depend on these people for my value and to try harder to obtain that value. Controlling manipulative people always ask for “more”. They want more effort, more proof of submission, more time, more love, more compliance. The more that I tried, the more THEY felt validated. And today I realize that fact is about them; they used me to validate themselves. They made me jump through hoops to prove their own value. They asked for more and more because their own self esteem was so low.  AND I believed that if I could make them feel good about themselves, then I would feel good about myself.  If I could prove their worth ~ then I would HAVE worth.  That is what they taught me. I had no choice but to believe it. There was no other option presented to me.

“I felt hands grabbing at me trying to drag me under” ~ or perhaps  those hands were trying to grab at me so they could use me to get themselves OUT from under the water in their own murky swamp. My purpose and value to them was in making them feel better about themselves.. Restoring their order and their value was what they wanted from me, and it was what I wanted to do (because I truly believed that was the only way that I could be valid) ~ but it was never enough.

  1. I had also been taught that I was unworthy of their approval. Over and over again I failed to restore their value. It was never enough and I didn’t know that restoring the value of another human being is not possible. It was the definition of love that I had learned and I believed it. I kept trying. The truth is that in their view I was not “good enough” or “deserving enough” for “them” to bother saving me. My only value (as they saw it) was in saving them.

Those two conflicting beliefs ~ that I needed “them” the very people who defined me as unworthy in the first place, to validate me and the fact that I (believed) I was indeed not worthy to be validated, warred in the depth of my soul. 

As my life progressed I found myself sinking more and more. Descending deeper and deeper; fighting less and less. Murky visions of what it might be like to stop fighting for life (and validation) became more frequent. Sometimes seeing blurry sunlight through the frozen ice above me; perhaps there was hope but I had no idea how to access it. The older I got the more tired I got. The more I fought (the truth) the more I sunk. I was exhausted.

Until; I faced the roots of depression. I finally looked at the truth about the past. Not just the events, but what those events communicated to me about me.  What happened to me? What had gone wrong? What was at the root of depression and the way that I felt about myself and my life?

I finally realized how I had been defined by the actions and communications of others and that these trauma events and the hopelessness surrounding them had resulted in the constant depressions.   

I realized that validation could come from me.

I started to change the visual. The underwater foliage broke free. I started to see myself kick those hands away. I raised my fist to all those that restrained me. I started to fight back. I got angry at the way that I had been held back, held down and oppressed.  I saw the roots of the depression and they were not my lack but someone else’s false definition of my worth.  I started to see myself strive for the sunlight. I wanted to be IN that sunlight. I fought to be there. I broke through the ice. I emerged from the depths. I shivered and shook with cold and fear and self doubt but I pressed on. I fought for my life. I fought for my birthright; my original value. I fought for me.

And I won.

Please share your thoughts. Remember that your information will not be shared with anyone and you may use any name you wish. EFB has a Facebook page, however your comments here are not connected to facebook nor are they published there.

Darlene Ouimet

The Emerging from Broken book is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing

 Other Related Posts ~ The black hole of Neglect by Pam Witzemann 

Why I didn’t Know how I Felt about anything ~Darlene Ouimet

If Happiness is a decision WHY couldn’t I make it ~ Darlene Ouimet

Categories : Depression



I’ve been reading “The Courage to Heal” and this post reminded me of the part in the book that says most abuse victims live life at about 20% of their capacity. I agree. I’ve lived the bulk of my life at that 20% only rising above that if it was for someone else. Namely my son who required me to operate at 110% and I did that easily because he needed that. But after he died, I want back to 20%. For awhile I thought I was just tired, sad or needing a break from the hours I was keeping caring for him. But now some 3.5 years later, I am still at 20% even though I’ve done the grief work and am at peace as far as his life and death go. It wasn’t until I found this site that I really understood that I am at 20% and will always be at 20% until I deal with the past and make peace with it the same as I did with my son. I have spent my life depressed only coming out of it to try to save someone else’s. Never my own. That is all changing.

Thank you!


Hi Jen
YAY… I can really relate to what you wrote and the way you shared it. That was what it was like for me. And I put everyone ahead of me too. And it is fantastic to get that 80% back. Interesting little fact ~ now that I have all that capacity back, I am WAY more here for my family. But I had to do the dealing first.
Love your comments!
Hugs, Darlene


I can relate to these early feelings. I would sit on my bed in the darkening evening and bounce for an hour and watch the light particles swirl around me, wondering if they would swallow me up, contemplating all the sad feelings my life seemed to produce. But during that time, and other times as well, I would sing.

My mother played the piano and I learned songs in church as well, so I sang ALL the time. I truly believe THAT is how I did not get depressed. I was probably more dissociated than depressed. Ironically, I knew a song called “Heavenly Sunshine”. “Heavenly sunshine, heavenly sunshine, flooding my soul with glory divine. Heavenly sunshine, heavenly sunshine, hallejuah, Jesus is mine.” And the tune was fun to sing. Singing became a big part of my life and still is. My dad asked his pastor’s wife (figures) if I should have voice lessons because I sang all the time. She said wait until I was an adult. What kind of a person/people could be so limited in their thinking?

Today I study with a phD teacher and got the solo in the community/college choir. I was chosen over current voice majors nad local teachers. I can’t even say what an honor that was. And another phD from Eastman School of Music was impressed with me.

Someone who heard me sing at a funeral two years ago is planning his own wife’s funeral and asking for me to sing for them. Truly an honor it is to FINALLY be equipped to do that for which I was created.

My parents, btw, never praised my singing to me. My mother would sit beside me and plug her ear when I sang. My dad only praised me to others. If I bring up the subject today, they are silent.

I am planning on becoming a therapuetic musician.


Darlene, After the last conversation I had with my mom, I felt like I’d been cut off at the knees and it was a familiar feeling. I knew for certain that my depressions were rooted in the rejection and disapproval that my mother has always treated me with. Because I understood why I felt crippled and unable to move, I was able to pull myself out of it by directing anger toward my mom for not loving me and supporting me the way a mother should instead of just laying there like a cripple. I really agree that abuse victims only live at partial capacity but every day now, my capacity for living increases. It’s amazing what can happen when one embraces their own truth.




Fellow singer here! I know exactly where you are coming from on this. In fact, over the last few days while trying to piece my childhood back together, I decided to compile a list of my favorite songs from age five and up. It’s quite eye-opening to see and remember the songs that I sang my sorrows out to. I didn’t like the fun cheery songs, but instead all the heartache ones. This truly seemed to manifest at age ten.

And like you, my parents never appreciated my singing though I was part of a college theatre group and went on to sing publicly for a time and people would always want to know if “I” would be singing at whatever place the opportunity arose. My husband DOES appreciate my talent though and I sing for him and to him both publicly and privately.

It was truly my only release and it’s amazing how much pain is forced out when you hit that high note and hold it beyond what you thought you could do.

I would have killed to have a mp3 player back then to take my music with me more easily. Like you, I think it kept me sane and now it is helping me put together the broken pieces of my past memories and it continues to heal my heart.

I say, sing your heart out! That’s God’s gift to us for sure.


Kate, Congratulations! I’m so happy for your success! I understand what it is like to be told you can’t sing, believe it, and then find out as an adult that you can!

What you wrote reminds me of a poem by Maya Angelou called, “I know why the caged bird sings”. If you’ve never read it, you really should.:0)



I saw that book in a drug store many years ago, and I don’t think I ever read it, but I sure remember the title. It reminded me of a poem that an amish man in our hospital had. He was my patient as a nurse’s aide. Something about “no prison, my bed.”

Jen, I would have dreams with these same images of trying to run and not being able to get up, just complete failure and doom themes.

And about hitting those high notes, in my last lesson, my teacher said that I need to feel the “ah” more in my head, from my nose upward. That helped me at that point. Singers need constant feedback from a voice coach, since we can’t hear our own voices well enough to know how they sound. We learn to sing by feel. I also learn by imitating my teacher.

My husband plays the piano for my songs. We are doing mostly Italian Arias right now. We must have worked an hour last night. It was just exhilorating. (sp?)

I just auditioned for the local community choir’s solo, and this choir is so weird and political that…well, they just don’t have trained singers in it and don’t attract trained singers. I knew I wouldn’t get the solo, and I also knew that I sing better than last year, so the satisfaction was in the process and knowing I did well.

Yes, singing in the complete voice (head and chest mixed) raises the endorphins in the brain like chocolate does. I seem to do both!


Pam, that is so intersting how your body gave you those same messages when you last saw your mom and you read those messages! You didn’t always know how to read them, but it is all clear now?


I also had failure/hopeless feelings that went with my singing. I couldn’t break into my head voice or even find it until college. I felt that I had to have “permission” from the right instructor or friend so sing that way. I had choking sensations that took me years to overcome.



I was always a strong alto and what some would refer to as a belter. I could hit the high notes (high C for example) in a chest voice. Going to a head voice sounded like a yodel for me and I did not like it nor the sound of it. I think I just wanted to yell REALLY LOUD and on pitch. That softer head voice wasn’t allowing me to vent. I’m sure you know what I mean. However maturity and good lessons helped a lot and now I can transition between both with ease and without the loss of power of feelings of weakness (both vocally and emotionally.)


And the image I had of myself around age five was of me sitting at the piano playing all over the keyboard and singing all over my range at the same time. It was true; like a prediction, I do that now, everyday. It was the image I had of myself overcoming the sadness in my life.

When our church split after high school and I lost almost everyone I knew, I arranged a hymn to express the sadness in that time period. I played and sang this in that church before I stopped attending there.

I listened to it on tape last year, after decades; it was amazing to hear those sounds again, and I just bawled my head off because I could feel that pain again, the loss, etc., and grieve it and know it and own it.


Kate, I just thought I was broken and I was but it wasn’t because my brain was broken. I’ve always felt emotional pain physically. I don’t know if other people are like that. It’s hard for me sometimes to separate what symptoms were actually from physical illness or emotional pain from all of the abuse. I’ve come a long way in five years as before that time, I still didn’t understand much of what happened to me. It feels better just to have events correctly labeled. That probably sounds weird. I don’t know how else to say it.

It sounds like you’re coming a long way too!:0)



Hi everyone,

Pam, I’m just considering what you wrote about “feeling emotional pain physically”. When I read it, my head said “nope” (thinking if I do that), but when I thought a little more, I realized there’s a fair chance I do…. or at any rate, like you describe, I have plenty of physical symptoms that I’m unsure of the cause of (but could well be emotional pain).

Actually I spoke to my GP about that just recently — I don’t ever remember getting headaches when younger (not enough to stand out anyway – stomachaches were the common one), but now I seem to get them almost constantly (headaches). I’ve often thought of them as due to “head spinning” from too many (or upsetting) thoughts, and asked mr GP if there’s a difference between just a random headache, and one that seems to be triggered by thoughts/feelings etc. (He said headache’s a headache, btw)

Nice to hear of all the singers, btw! I love singing along to things, but not very confident. Been meaning to try lessons actually if I can find an understanding teacher (would need to be very gentle).

Kate, I totally relate to bawling along to music (“along to”… perhaps “because of” is a better description; sounds kinda like a “crying solo” in time to the music otherwise! :)) Earlier this year (and maybe last year) in particular, there were a bunch of songs that would set me off pretty bad nearly every time. Kinda didn’t mind though; I have a lot of trouble letting myself cry if I’m alone, and I think I kinda figured if there’s that much grief inside, better out than in!

Jen, I hope you don’t mind me saying that it struck me as so beautiful that you were able to do what you did for your son! (Obviously it’d be awesome if you were able to do it for yourself as well, but given that you’re functioning that poorly yet still managed to do it…. I hope this makes sense.)

So, depression….

Hmmm. I really liked (and related to) a lot of your descriptions, Darlene. One way I thought of it one time was like trying to push a massive boulder up a mountain made of quicksand. (Not real sure that such a thing could exist, but, meh. Poetic license!) 🙂 I remember when I was first diagnosed, it was the biggest relief of my life, because I finally had something to blame other than **ME** for how shit my life was.

We’ve got a family friend in their 60’s who has depression, and at first I kinda liked knowing someone “got it”, but then ended up more depressed at the thought of going through my whole life like this. (This was prob coupla years ago). Still holding out hope that things will change for me.

Done the old trick of leaving this sitting here for ages, so think I’ll post it now.

PS started doing my inspection sheet for new place today – often tend to leave things til last minute, so proud of that! Also rang electric co. (they were supposed to put it on monday; rang back & apparently it’d disappeared in the computer netherworld, so hopefully this time it’ll happen!)



Yes, the convolutions of bad nutrition and emotional abuse. What really causes those stomach aches that my dad insisted were all in my head? I sure felt a whole lot better in my 20’s when I quit drinking milk!! But being told that I don’t know when my own stomach hurts was enough to cause it to hurt. Being yelled at every time I pooped when I was a toddler was enough to MAKE me constipated, even though a wonder bread/dairy based diet WILL make me constipated.

And YES, I love this: “It feels better just to have events correctly labeled.” That is why I read books, have conversations, and write my history; it helps to label or identify abuses and results. And from there, the understanding of my life grows.


I love your analogy of the underwater foliage getting tangled around your feet Darlene….and someone sitting on your chest. And that you draw the conclusion that depression doesn’t just happen cause – but that it is a symptom God gives us, a warning to tell us there is something we need to deal with! I have also fought with depression over my life, especially after having kids. I remember reading some where that if it was your marriage/relationship adding to your “unhealthy” state of life – then it was time to say good-bye. I couldn’t believe this was an answer for me since divorce wasn’t an option and since I just believed life was hard, marriage was hard and I wasn’t going to make an excuse just to get out.

Yet, as I have removed the “foliage” from my feet this past year…as I am reclaiming my own power and learning what from my past drove me into this relationship, as I am cleaning up my own “garden” from the yuck and filth of misplaced words and beliefs about myself – I realize the depressed state I was living in these past 6 years of life.

I know I have a LONG way to go still, but I am so thankful to people like you, to my counselor, to healthy friends and to my Life Skills class …all of which have given me tools to face those negative thoughts, to change those negative thought patterns into positive thought patterns. Even in the midst of a messy divorce with 2 small kids and all that it entails – I have been able to get off my medicine and am doing well. When I start down that “slippery slope” of depression, I know spend the time to analyze my feelings, thoughts that drove them and the events that triggered the thoughts – instead of letting them all fester and simmer underneath the my awareness. These tools have been and continue to be life saving.

Learning how to “rephrase” your thoughts and tell yourself the truth is just so empowering, isn’t it?


J, I’ve learned to identify some of the physical feelings I have that are emotionally based. Insult make my face hurt. Dealing with an old problem that I can’t solve, makes my bones ache. The emotional neglect I experienced as a child, was a painful weight at the middle of my chest. Depression does make my head hurt and I move very slow, I can see this in old family videos. I’ve spent up to six months where I was in bed most of the day and only got up for things I absolutely had to take care of. It used to immobilize me, which is a pretty big physical symptom of emotional pain…



Hi Pam
Exactly! That is a huge part of my message Pam! just as you say “It’s amazing what can happen when one embraces their own truth”.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Holli
Love your comments! Thank you so much for sharing this. Love your garden analogy too! Thank you for sharing your victories!
Hugs, Darlene


I may have shared this before. When I first got into 12-Step programs, many of my friends were on medicines for depression. I wondered if I was depressed. I have been sad for most of my life. I remember feeling that deep sadness as young as 7 years old. It felt like it was always a part of who I was. I didn’t understand until I went to a psychiatrist where that heavy sadness came from. I shared with him that I was an incest survivor who was abused by my dad at least from age 11-17. I didn’t know at the time that I saw the psychiatrist that it maybe started much younger. I still just have clues, no proof of anything happening earlier. I know at age 3 that I labeled myself an adulteress in a little country church that one of my grandmothers took me to.

Anyway, back to what the psychiatrist told me. He said that with my history of incest, I wasn’t depressed and didn’t need to be on medicines. He said that I was grieving the many losses of my childhood because of the incest. I was so blessed that I went to this man instead of someone else who probably would have put me on medication like they have done with my sister over the past few years. Instead of doing the medicines, I have worked really hard on healing my issues, as Darlene has. I know that medication helps some people with their depression. I am just glad that I went in another direction thanks to that doctor that I visited about 20 years ago.


Hi Patricia
I did the anti-depressant route for several years. I am glad that it never got into multiple meds, but it could have.
Although the abuse may not start from birth but the message that the child is not “that important” or not as important as the adults, begins really young. The message that I got was a huge part of the damage that I had to recover from. I had to discover my true value and realize that the value they put on me (or lack of it) was wrong. Thank you for this share. It is so relevant that you labeled yourself as an adulteress from such a young age. Very telling and very interesting.
Hugs, Darlene


The fact that you connected with something said from a pulpit at age three and turned it on yourself means that something wrong was happening. You knew that much. I am horrified to think how MUCH of this kind of thing happens to how many children and young people and adults in these “teaching” settings. Tactics of control. Make them feel they are worthless but must come back each week ($$) for what I don’t know anymore.


The minister, I think, was preaching about adultery because his wife, who was not a church member, was an adulteress. I figured this out later when the church decided that they didn’t want a minister with a wife who was so out of control.

My sexual abuse didn’t happen at the church. It happened in my own home. The fact that I labeled myself an adulteress tells me that I was being sexually abused by the age of 3 for me to label myself and to even know that the minister was talking about sex. I knew what he was talking about. The minister was talking to the adults of the church. He had no idea that I took on that label for myself. I didn’t tell anybody until I heard myself telling my story to a group of 12-Steppers around 1992 or 1993.


Oh, so much to think about here. And, to read. I’ll be back. My Micro final is tomorrow, so I can’t wait to come back after that and read everything!!


How did you get to that point….the point of being able to do something with the roots? I know where & what my roots are, yet I’m still in captivity to them, the depression. I don’t even know if I’m at 20% or less. I need more & so do my kids. The last thing I want to do is have my heartache cause my actions to express invalidation to my children. I am a cycle breaker. I accept that role because it needs to be done, but I am exhausted emotionally. My kids mean so much to me. I cannot let this pass on to another generation. Please advise (:


Yes, I remember you writing about this time in your life before, so I remember this story. The part about the minister’s wife is new for me today, though. Wow.


Hi Ma V.
Welcome to emerging from Broken.
I have written extensively in this site about the “how” I did this stuff. How I dug down to the roots, and realized the lies that were attached to the roots of the events. AND then changed them.
I was exhausted too, but I got my energy back when I did this work. There is hope!
Hugs, Darlene


Thx for your response Darlene. Which blog post do you recommend I begin with? And…how do I search your archives? V


Hi Ma V
Take a look at the category buttons under the header graphic and see where you want to start. Each post will refer to other posts too and that should get you started.
Hugs, Darlene


Well, I’m not depressed anymore. I don’t know if I was every truly depressed or if was a side effect of all the self-medication I did with marijuana in order to squash my real feelings. Now that I’m sober and excavating the truth, I’m damn sure not depressed. Often I’m angry, sometimes sad, lonely, confused, bitter, and sometimes actually happy! I distinguish between depression and emotions like sadness and grief because I think of depression as a NUMBNESS and an avoidance of painful emotion, but I see sadness and grief as active expression of emotion that I am facing and accepting.

Lately I have noticed just how angry and bitter I am toward MYSELF for all the ways I have hurt myself and misused my life up until recently. I am actively working to heal my life and I have accomplished much considering how far back I was, and I have certainly moved beyond the 20% living capacity….. but I hear this inner condemnation whenever I am alone and quiet, like just before bed. I hear the thoughts, “I hate you! You’re a loser! You’re stupid!” over and over again.

I guess this is more than just disappointment at “wasting” my life and squandering opportunities because I was such a mess. This probably derives from old insults and criticism that came from others to begin with. I am still comparing myself to others in terms of worldly accomplishment, physical appearance, and other things, and not giving myself credit for achieving a level of truth and healing that is really spectacular. There are people like my brother, who knows how I was hurt, but somehow doesn’t believe that I am healing because I am not making more money or have the kind of job he feels is important. He ignores me mostly and I take it as a rejection, but I know that it has to do with who he is and not who I am.

But do I really know it? Even when I remind myself of all this, I still hear those thoughts! This lack of self-regard seems really deeply embedded! I don’t seem to be able to figure out how to get to the place where I don’t judge and hate myself. I no longer try to avoid or stifle the voices, or numb my emotions, so as a result I deal with it on a daily basis. I’m PROUD of myself for accepting myself in the state I’m in and I want to heal. I just don’t seem to know how to work this next phase.



I feel more anger these days as well but previously, a ton of my life has been lived in a fog. I would not generally consider myself a “happy” person. Mostly, I’ve always been an “annoyed” person. I’ve always felt like there is some bitter truth poisoning my life. That is a bit perplexing because I’ve always known I was sexually abused, not to mention emotionally and physically abused. I never thought any of that was right and I always lived my home life as if I was biding my time until I could make my great escape. What’s come to light for me in the last few days is that there may be even worse things that I currently cannot remember. I have a ridiculous fear of being locked in small spaces. I freak out. I don’t remember being locked in anywhere but my immediate desire when this happens is to get out and get away.

Like you, I feel as if a majority of my life has been wasted just trying to endure, or living in that fog. I think the next step for me is to allow these hidden things to come to the surface and then perhaps I will better understand why I live in a constant state of annoyance and fog.



For me, feeling my anger was the beginning of my healing journey. As a child, it wasn’t safe to be angry in my home. My alcoholic dad was a rageaholic but no one else was allowed to feel anything. When I left home at 19, I didn’t want to feel the anger so I denied it and stuffed it down with food. When I got into 12-Step programs in my late 30’s, I couldn’t ignore the anger any more. It was hurting me too much. It was also coming out as out of control rage directed at my husband and children. It took me about 4 years to learn how to direct the anger into healthy ways of expression rather than letting it come out as rage. Only because my husband is as patient as he is and loves me as much as he does did our marriage last through those 4 years.


Jen, I can relate to the general feelings of annoyance. For me, it just seems interesting that now that I am busting through the fog, and starting to live my life in a more healthy way, the inner voice seems to have become MORE self-critical. It seems to be taunting me, belittling me for thinking that my progress has been so great, but saying that I am still a nobody by other people’s standards. By the way, this is not what I actually hear from the people around me today, who respect and support me in my journey. And people I work with seem grateful for my hard-won emotional maturity and advice. But this implanted inner critic still sneers and lashes out constantly.


Hi Sophia,
Love your comments! Great insights and great points!
I went through a big stage of ‘anger at self’ too. (I get angry when I
realized I missed or ignored red flags such as when another layer of the fog
About that voice, I started talking back to it. I asked it why it thought I
was a loser.. or stupid. That helped me get to the bottom of the whole
thing! There was a huge amount of insight when I started to talk to the
voice. And it answered, and I kept asking questions. (sounds crazy but it
worked!) One day I realized after that process that I had the REST of my
life! I stopped feeling like so much was over and embraced the present and
Hugs, Darlene
p.s. money etc. is not a measurement of wholeness!


Hi Jen
I totally relate to your comments and fears too. I still don’t have all my memories, but in time that fear of finding out something I didn’t know, (or details that I don’t remember) lessened. And I just kept going forward. There is an excellent book called “repressed memories” by Renee Fredrickson that really helped me with this stuff.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Dave,

I feel like you in that I wish I could push pause on my daily commitments and just deal with this full force. But I’m a wife with three kids (whom I homeschool) so this is just not possible. This past week, things have been so “fresh” again that I’ve found myself doing what I did as a child; doing the bare essentials to keep life going and as soon as that is done, retreating to my own private corner of blackness. It’s frustrating in that I feel like just when I might be having a “breakthrough,” duty calls and I have to leave whatever progress I just made. By doing that, I actually lose a little progress. Like two steps forward and one back. That’s pretty much been my life though and this is what I want to be free of. I have a very blessed life. God has given me a wonderful husband who is the exact opposite of the kind of people I grew up with. I have wonderful children and our family is doing well even in this economy. Life is good so I should be happy too. But what happens when life is good is that I have nothing pressing to focus my energy on so I focus on the past. I am greeted with that inner feeling of doom and it dampens all the joy and peace I should be feeling. And when there is any sort of conflict, that inner doom seems to magnify it. However, now that I see both of these things more clearly, I am not letting that doom have complete control of me. It’s a conscious change that I am making but I truly want to feel better inside so that I can enjoy what is outside.



Hi Jen
The post that you are responding to that Dave wrote is on a different article. 🙂 He didn’t comment on this one.
If you want to cut and paste this comment (it is a great comment!) into the comments for the post “Emotional Healing Does Not Depend ON” then please go ahead and do that!
Hugs, Darlene


OK, In all Honesty I am without words.It is as if you are or have been sitting right inside my concience.Word for word push down by push down. And when I tried to explain how I was feeling no one could “hear” or understand what I was saying. I never thought about that how I was stroking their fur. But that makes so much sence~why would you understand and have the person that was making your life happy CATCHING ON AND STOPPING ! DUH ! Thank You


I have felt like you all my life, though I now understand why now and I am finding me…


Hi Marybeth,
I am glad that part resonated with you. When I started seeing some of the truth about that part, my whole world changed for the better.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Susan
Welcome. I am so glad to hear that you are finding YOU now! That has been a huge part of the joy in recovery for me.
Hugs, Darlene


What are you supposed to do when your doctor tells you your depression is caused by Seasonal Affective disorder, which means that during the winter months, your body gets deprived of vitamin D and causes depression, b/c vitamin D helps control moods?
I don’t just have a depression created from experiences, unless you want to count starving your child of necessary vitamins b/c you’d rather drink booze “depression from life experiences.”
I had full-blown iron-deficient anemia, that’s why they sort of took me out of the home. But, to hear everybody else in my family talk, the law came in like some Russian soldiers and ripped a “perfectly healthy, happy child away from her parents.”
I don’t even understand what makes them believe themselves. Even when I “liked my mom and dad despite what they’d done,” I still at least knew what they did.
These brothers and sisters give no indication that they even know.
I’m just wondering how long I’m going to be completely alone with this issue. In terms of my family, I mean. You guys are supportive, and that’s great, but nobody in my offline life will believe it happened. And it can be really annoying that someone doesn’t believe you had anemia. It annoys me anyway.
I’m still TRYING to win. Still trying–and hoping there’s a light at the end of this tunnel the way there was during my near-death experience. The light meant hope, that’s why it felt so wonderful and peaceful.
Anyway, that’s where I am today. Some of my depression is caused by vitamin D deficiency and some is from experiences.


Yes, I am strictly talking about depression resulting from life experiences. I didn’t need anyone to believe it in my old life. That is not one of the requirements in the process of overcoming.
Keep reading. This site if full of the insights that I had with regards to all of what you are posting here.
Hugs, Darlene


I everyone
I just published a post that was inspired in part by some of the comments on this post.
You can read the new post here:
Manipulative and Controlling People and some tactics used to Control
I look forward to hearing your feedback there!
Hugs, Darlene


I can’t think of how or what I want to say, There is so much rushing though me atm, I do want to THANK YOU ALL for sharing and caring. as I read more and more it’s like someone is that voice I just couldn’t find, it’s so hard when you aren’t able to talk to others because your in fear of people thats to tbi and ptsd, I thank you all and I thank God that someone linked me here….. much love and peace to everyone.

Darlene Thank you for being my Angel ( hugs)


Hi Nancy
Welcome to EFB! I am so glad you are here.
When I read your “thank you for being my Angel” my eyes filled up ~it just hit me is such a beautiful way. Thank you.
Hugs and love, Darlene


Jen – thanks for your feedback. I looked back frantically for my post on this message and could not find it (i am not losing it thank god !). Jen – you use the word “should” twice – “i should be happy” and “the inner joy i should be feeling” – there is no SHOULD Jen – no one can dictate how you should feel. You feel how you feel Jen. It sounds like you just need to give yourself permission to enjoy the life that you have. When things are good and going well, embrace it. dont go back to the past. Let the past stay there and when things do surface then work on them. If we keep digging up the past we will never be able to truly move forward into what God has for our future. You have done a lot of work – give yourself permission to enjoy it ! Trust that God will bring to the surface anything that needs to be dealt with. Its ok to move forward Jen ! You can keep making that conscious choice not to go back. You can do it !


RE your comments to Jen ~ please be careful about giving other people directives and feedback about what you think they need to do differently or what they are doing wrong and what you think that the results will be if they do what you think is right. This is the kind of thing we are all trying to get away from in the first place. Everyone has the freedom here to share things the way that they want to share them without fear of judgement or directives from other readers. Telling someone “don’t go back to the past” is against my whole message here. Going back to the past is what set me free. It was the past where I found out how I got broken in the first place so that I could mend. I could never find my true purpose in life until I faced the past. I could not enjoy the life I had until I faced why I felt so much unhappiness regardless of how good my present was. I had to go to the past for the missing puzzle peices.
All I am asking is that you share what works for you, instead of wording it at someone else.
Thanks ~ hugs, Darlene



While Dave’s comments did not offend me, I want to thank you for what you said on my behalf. I believe this is the first time anyone has ever stood up to protect my integral need to uncover my past and truly figure out why I am broken. This is the first time anyone has given me permission to look back and heal. Your words touched my heart in a way it hasn’t been touched but has needed to be for so very long. Thank you.

With love,


Thank for telling me; you have touched me the same way back. I feel warm inside. Someone had to help me to understand that I could stand up for me. I want to do that same thing for others.
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene – thanks for clarifying ! I appreciate it. I havent read all the rules for the blog. My intentions are good – i promise. I will try and use “i statements” for the future. I wasnt meaning to say dont go back to the past. I think there is a crucial difference in “going back to the past” vs. “digging up the past” – i have found that some people continue to go back to the same things over and over again and are never able to move forward. I agree that the only way to truly heal is to deal with what happened in the past. I agree that you have to face it and deal with it.

Jen – sorry for giving my advice. I will try and be more careful in the future. I know that “should” has been a huge issue for me and learning that’s it ok to do what i want instead of what i “should” – I hate living my life by what i should or ought to do – to me that is living life based on what someone else wants and not what i want. By no means was i saying dont look at the past or dont deal with it. I have found that it does not help me to continue to dig up stuff that i have already worked through. When i have put something to bed so to speak, i leave it there. Unless God shows me otherwise i just dont go back to stuff i have already dealt with. Forgive me for trying to dictate to you – sorry !!


I feel so fortunate to have discovered this site. At the end of August I left my abusive ten year marriage (I left him not long after he assaulted me-prior to that it was psychological, emotional and financial) and in a hurry, I packed whatever I could into my car, and drove to the closest place which was my elderly father and maternal grandmother’s house. My ex was so adept at pretending he was a prince, he had everyone snowed that I was the villain and my own family didn’t believe me. I had to beg them to let me stay, and they even made me describe in detail HOW he assaulted me. Add to this that four immediate family members died in the past ten years (mother, aunt, two siblings) and I was very sick with a mysterious illness and hospitalized repeatedly over two years, and am still recovering 4 years later. After a total meltdown two weeks after staying at my father’s, my doctor and domestic crisis/violence advocate intervened and got me in to see a therapist who was well known in the area for specialized work and we began to work together in earnest. She got me to see that I basically married my family, insomuch as although I couldn’t at first admit my family scapegoated me and also allowed me to be sexually abused and brutalized by extended family members, I defended them when they wouldn’t even protect me. It took even longer for me to accept that my current living arrangements, while I’m not able to change right now due to finances, are just as bad because I’m living with two of my abusers who continue to drag me down and berate me. I work so hard at being positive and working on myself and my therapist has said she’s never met anyone who wanted to heal as badly as me or as strong as me, but I feel so alone and so isolated. There’s so much more but I don’t want to monopolize the discussion but I’ve been through so much and these past few weeks have been the worst in my life, esp because my late (and only) sister’s birthday was Christmas Eve and my family refuses to observe any holidays because they say, Why bother, everyone is dead. Even when I say, But I’m alive. What about me?


Dave, my experience has been different. I have found that going back and deliberately excavating the past has truly accelerated my healing process. There was much that I had “put to bed” without fully understanding or grieving for, and digging these up and seeking to decipher what they told me about how I developed a false belief system from them has been crucial. I don’t consider it a negative factor if I have to keep going back to them as many times as it takes to fully understand and grieve for them. Some thing were just too awful not to require a lot of grieving. And often, by re-examining these old stories at different times, I gain new insights in light of being further along in my process of healing. Are you saying that you see people who keep bringing up old memories without understanding how to heal from them? I have been in that position, and Darlene and others have provided me with tools for making the healing happen, but I believe that there is a reason a person could not let something go until they have come to understand what the trauma has done to them.


Hi Lainey
I am glad that you are here too. I understand your story. I am so sorry that you are stuck in this horrible situation. Please share as much and as often as you wish here; don’t worry about monopolizing the conversation. That is one of the reasons that I created this space. Great things come out of writing and sharing this stuff.
As for me, one day I told myself exactly what you said. I said to myself, “I am alive. what about me?” and I started the process of taking my life back from the ones who took it from me and the ones that were continuing on from where others left off. That is what this site is about; you found the right place!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Sophia,
I absolutely love what you posted here. The same has been true for me. And I had to give myself permission to visit the past as often as I needed to because I was so brainwashed that digging up the past was wrong.
Thanks for your comments,
Hugs, Darlene


As far as I can remember I have had cycles of depression – roughly every 7 years….Certainly at 14 I got my first anti-depressants – I had been severely abused throughout my 12th and 13th years. For me, its like wading through knee-high treacle carrying a heavy weight – on my chest and back. I now believe I was abused around the age of 6yrs too – and I can certainly relate behaviour changes to around that time – but they were excused due to other factors in my life at that time. Since then, I can say depression pitches up right on time – at 28, 35, 42, 49 – but then the sequence got skewed by the events of the last 5 years – one major life=stressor after another, with no time in between to recover – and I can now see how I got pushed over into full-blown PTSD 2yrs ago. I would be due a depressive episode this year – but I don’t think its gonna come this time. Because??? Because finally I know why I have been getting depressed all these years. Finally I am facing the truth and getting help. I too have lived my life at 20% of what it “should” have been – which I have been only too aware of – but didn’t understand why – I do now. So now I believe it can be different.
And Patricia Spiritual Journey of a LIghtworker – your psychiatrist is a true healer – he is SO right in what he said to you. Our depressions are really grief – for all of the wrongs done to us, all of the things we have been robbed of and cheated out of. If only other shrinks/therapists were so aware…..!
We have a right to be sad – what happened to us was awful, wrong, soul-destroying. It WAS upsetting, why wouldn’t we respond to those horrible events by becoming sad/depressed? Its probably the most “normal” feeling we could have had! But we also have aright to all those other feelings too – rage, confusion – as well as happiness, self-belief, love.
Thanks again, Darlene – love to you


Hi Libby!
This is what I found too. That is why I write this blog and speak my message; I found the root of it and once I faced the truth about that root, (where the depression came from) the depressions stopped. And yes, there was so much grief involved that I had been avoiding and believing I was wrong or unworthy to feel it. I was denied my own right to grieve. And I denied me too.
Thank you so much for sharing this VICTORY today and for sharing that there really is HOPE!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi again.. I hope im not commenting too much but I said a big YAH when Darlene stuck up for Jen in going back to the past.. we wouldnt keep being drawn there unless it was all resolved….how many times did my ex say.. well i hope you can put all that to bed now and only take away the positive.. subscript…… “your valid negative angry feelings make me uncomfortable and id rather you didnt have them”….and “ill never apologise”.. at least now I dont expect it as I have faced reality… what is important is that I know how I feel and how I was treated…I used to have a terrible nightmare but it was so real like a dar malevolent force was sitting on my chest and struggle as I could I couldnt get up or breathe.. at 17 I was literally pinned for over an hour in a car and had to be cut out.. but other trauma came before.. or so my therpaist feels I just cant remember it….the point is that comment the past isnt even really past.. last night I awoke at 3am with a voice.. read page 187 in Peter Levines.. Waking the Tiger there he talks all about the compulsion to repeat which goes on until we resolve the past.. I know we arent meant to give advice but I still say.. ..dont let anyone stop you looking at the past or speaking out about it if that is what you need to heal.


Hi Deborah!
Don’t ever worry about commenting “too much”.
Looking at the past saved me from a present that was filled with depression and sadness and total exhaustion..
Hugs, Darlene

p.s. re “advice” what you said is not the kind of advice I am talking about.. I am talking about telling someone specifically what they “should do”.


All this singing stuff in the comments here reminds me of this article I found online about Rapunzel. Have you read this? Astounding. I’m a singer too. I started taking lessons when I was 35. All I would do for a while is sit alone and sing…

Rapunzel, Daughter of a Closet Narcissist


Hi Jenna,

Great article!….The Closet Narcissist defines my mom to the T. I love what is says about creative expression being very important in recovery. So validating…The creative outlet gives the daughter of a narcissist a separate self. I find my paintings and writing healing. That is where I express myself.
Thanks for sharing!!


It wasn’t until I was 17 and I was at college when it truly hit me how very different my childhood has been. It still has hidden triggers and anger lurking, just beneath the surface. I used to be soooo angry at my mother, but it never achieved anything at the time. So I learnt to heal on my own, not tell my family ore partner what I spoke about or what inwas trying to do. It has not really changed much over the last 25 or so years, though I have started the set of dynamic therapy I’ve been waiting on, and this time I will face the issues I skirted around and didn’t face all ther other times. I want to be happy. Not just for show but just happy and connected. Is that so much to ask for?


Hi Carol
That is awesome that you are going to face the issues now! You deserve to be happy and connected! We all do!
That is not at all too much to ask for!
Hugs, Darlene


Hello Darlene,

Thanks for your articles they give me hope.
I was abused during my whole childhood, physically by my grandmother who used to attach me to a chair all day instead of watching me when my parents were working, verbally and physically by my father who used to beat the s*** out of me and my brother and sexually by my uncle from age 6 to 8 (he was 10 years older than me). I’ve always felt there was something pulling me back, I am smart and healthy but I’m stuck at a stage that keeps me from reaching my full potential. When I have a job and a stable life I’m ‘ok’ but as soon as there’s a change of scenery (I moved 7 times in the last 14 years) it’s like I can’t do anything. I have food and sleep disorder as well as BDD and OCD and am very emotionally dependent. As a result, I am 31, obese, unemployed and lonely and I don’t wanna waste any more minute of this precious life God gave me, please let me know how you did cause I’m tired


This is a fantastic article/blog. I was so broken when I posted what I did above. I had no idea how broken I was. I had no idea how depressed I was. I too, began to suffer from depression at a very young age. My self worth was demolished by my mothers constant demeaning of me and demands that I meet her needs, which were often unspoken but nevertheless implied. The rule in our home was that everyone did everything they could to please mom and make her happy but it was never enough. It was that black hole that could never be filled up. No amount of love, support, material things were ever enough. I could not see it for a long time. I have been looking for validation from others for a long time. I never got any validation from my parents. They were both so mean and angry and argued all the time. I felt so much shame as a child and often wished I had never been born. I wished I could crawl under a rock and hide often. I became ashamed of who I was and was ashamed of how I looked. I am sure that was the beginning of my depression. Now I look to God to validate who I am and I work on validating myself. As I have healed the inner child from all the abuse, the depression has begun to lift some. I no longer need family to feel good about who I am or to feel like I belong. I am ok with who I am. Just because they didn’t love and accept me, that was their problem not mine. For a long time I saw it that I was flawed and defective. Now I realize that it was all their dysfunction and chaos. I am learning to love myself. It feels good !


Hi Dave
Great to hear from you! You sound great! Thanks for the update!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Kareem
Welcome to EFB
The ways that I overcame are sort of laced through this website in the different stories and examples I use of how my false belief system about me formed in the first place. (this is also how I help my clients to figure out where they are stuck) The key to the present is in the past! Keep reading Kareem, it can take some time!
Hugs, Darlene

Ashley Allen Leonard
December 28th, 2014 at 11:03 am

I so wanted to comment because of how exactly you speak for me many times, Darlene. But the tears start flowing. I was unable to make the correlation that my self destructive behaviors were directly related to years of sexual abuse from those who should have been protecting me. Hope to share someday how a loving God revealed His love to me and Never gives up on me and is healing me. Thats what I can share today.


Hi Ashley
That is so awesome that you were able to make the connection! That was the beginning of healing for me.
Thank you for sharing your heart and your tears here,
Hugs, Darlene


I do not know if anyone will even read this. It seems to me that this website is old and no longer kept up. I have a question. What should I do when I have fallen so deep, that I am almost positive that I am insane, that my will has left me, and am barely hanging onto life itself. I feel the heaviness, I have so many ideals, memories flowing through my head. I took on an impossible task of helping someone but I somehow messed up even more along the way. I am a Mormon, I believe in God and Jesus Christ. Yet, I am failing and falling. I have reached the point where all that is left is try to continue to scream out, because I want my endless madness to end. I am broken. I feel that only God and Jesus Christ himself could possibly hope to save me, and even then I doubt it. I doubt everything and trust nothing. Please explain to me what I need to do. How do I become sane.


Hi Conner
Welcome to Emerging from Broken
Perhaps finding this website was an answer to your prayer? I hope you will keep reading and sharing. There is a lot of insight and info here.
You have landed on a really old article, but the website is very much still active and current. Please go to the home page (the button with the little house on it) for current material and active discussions.
Please don’t give up on yourself. I am glad you are here!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Conner,

Welcome! I’ll echo what Darlene said – we have a very active and supportive community here. If you make your way to the home page, and then scroll down and look on the right under “new comments”. There you’ll find the most active discussions. Also, the most recent post typically has recent active conversation. I am sorry you are hurting so, yet I believe there is light and hope. Darlene has a wonderful way of putting into words what so many of us experience and feel, and helping us to build up our self-esteem. I know for me I also needed the help of a therapist to vent and feel safe and understood.


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