How I found my way out of the struggle with depression and back to the light of my childhood

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Okay we all know that really it's not about suddenly finding enlightenment, we're all there. It's just about remembering how to access it in our day and night. It's finding the moments in our life where we can use spiritual keys, techniques and meditations that open our bridge to this natural state.  A client once asked my, "Are you enlightened?" "Sometimes," I said, "Like everyone else." 

How I found my way into and out of depression


My family lived on a farm deep in the bush of South Africa. My father wrote for the London Times on nature, Mom was a homemaker and artist and they both were very active in anti apartheid activities, as were my much older sisters. 

Even though we lived in a torn, dangerous and  struggling country, most of my childhood was lived in an inner place of comfort, joy, light and happiness. I danced, sang, played with  on our land and went to political rallies with my parents. There was a knowing that I was good and right and accepted in both the white and black communities. I was who I was and that was enough, without question in my mind.  Although I didn't consciously know, (like a fish in water)I just felt easy and comfy in my life. 

 My parents and me in Africa

My parents and me in Africa


 When I was eight, my parents felt that it had become too dangerous because of their anti apartheid activities and we left. They sold and packed up what they could and we headed to Australia with only a small portion of their money. The government would't let them take the rest. I had no idea that things would be changing , it was just a trip to me. Even though everyone was sad, we were together as a family and they were my home. 

The journey was for me amazing, so many new sights, new people, new tastes and new feelings. My family was with me and even though I could feel that they were sad sometimes, we were still together. I sat on the deck of the ship and watched the ocean, it was so beautiful and made me feel very light and happy. They served ice cream on the decks each afternoon and I ate it slowly, we didn't have ice cream often on the farm. After a trip from Perth to Adelaide in a train, my parents purchased camping gear and a car and we drove around Australia. We sang and told stories as we travelled the east coast looking at towns, to see which one suited us.

I was acutely aware that this was hard for them, even thought they tried to hide it from us.  When I cut my hand on a glass, I kept it form them, I held it closed and packed it with a handkerchief and peroxide. They were struggling and I didn't want to add to their worry. No one noticed and I was just eight.

There wasn't much money for buying decorations, so Mom got some colored papers and we made chains and used glitter to make other things for our tree. We had fun and it didn't matter that there were weren't many presents. Jasemin my sister made home made candies and we enjoyed them together. 

After  a few months of traveling and a short time living in Toowoomba, Queensland they finally deciding to settle in Adelaide. Our parents purchased an old stone house, with a wonderful almond tree that grew over a leaky septic. There was a huge fig tree in the back and a field of oxalis or sour sobs as we called them. The pretty yellow flowers danced in the wind and my sister and I lay in them watching them dance above our heads.


Relatives told my parents to send us to a private school, so my sister and I excitedly went to school for the first time. She was 13 and I was still 8, for a bit neither of us understood what was happening. We had never been spoken to like this before, had never seen people hitting children before and it terrified me. My sister became very rebellious, I was just terrified. There was nothing I could do, I had no way to know how to deal with treatment like this.

Our family was splintering, my parents had to work and start a new life and career at over 50. My other sisters 11 and 13 years older also needed to work. I began sinking inside to escape the violence and loss of family cohesion. For awhile in the beginning I could still find the place of happiness and ease inside pretty easily. Then it got covered up completely, with a deep impenetrable mud of depression, which slowly slipped over my light and covered all of me.


  I can remember sitting behind my desk making up stories in my mind and watching flies crawl around the ceiling. "Fiona, what is your answer?" I realized I'd missed a question and felt the heat rising in my face. " I don't know." I said.  Would she hit me? She screamed " Will you pay attention." So often I couldn't. I jumped up into the isle and looked at her, it was hard to be there in the classroom and so much safer to be in a dream world in my head.

I was lost in the crawling depression, only nature, singing and dancing could bring back the access to the light space that had been my home as a young child.  I began to feel as if I wasn't acceptable, too chubby, not able to concentrate, not smart enough and worst of all I was not Australian. They kids made fun of my 'toffee' (English) accent and called me 'hippopotamus'. During the time or stress before we left, I had become heavy. I began for the first time in my life to feel 'not good enough.' This had never been a thought before. 

Dad said, " Don't worry, school is only for one kind of brain and you have a one that is different." This was in the fifties, he was a unique, smart and wise man. His words didn't stop the slow devolving into depression, but it helped me to feel that there was someone who understood me.  He studied with me each night and presented things in different ways, so I could remember and understand them.


It became harder to remember that feeling or state I had in Africa. I didn't feel safe here, in a place that was so much safer than where I had grown. No dangerous animals, no snakes that chased and attacked you and no conflict on our doorstep. I began to feel that I needed something to fill me up, complete myself. There began to be an emptiness inside, a feeling of aloneness, I wasn't whole and thought I could find something or someone out there to make me better.    

This depression lasted for over twenty years. I searched and quested, looking for a way back, but I only found glimpses of that feeling of lightness and ease, that Africa feeling. After college I back packed around the world searching. In the Himalayas of Nepal, I waited for a teacher to come down and say, “Aha at last I’ve found you.” Someone who could show me the way back, but no one came. I even felt alone in my relationships and chose men who criticized me, wanted me to be different, or who abused me. 


A quest began, a search, to discover how to return to me. Traveling all over the world, I searched, looking for teachers who could lead me, looking for ways to remember. Depression still hung over my mind and filled it with tornados of emotions that I couldn’t get through. Nature was a haven, for a little while I could touch the place of light inside and then the tornado returned and the light was gone.

Finally after twenty years of searching, trying all sorts of techniques and studying with many spiritual and Qi Gong teachers, I realized the depression was gone. When did it go? What date had it left, I couldn’t remember.  What I found was that it wasn’t through trying, understanding, expressing, sharing or struggling, 'cause I tried all of these.

Here are a few ways I discovered, a few keys or pathways that really helped. In the next blog, I’ll go into them in more detail and share a bit more of the story.


MEDITATION: didn’t help when I did it for long periods. In fact it made the separation between the inner and outer world a chasm. This worsened the depression. I discovered that I cold build a bridge between the inner place of light and the outside world of reality  with moments of mediation. I'd stop, put the corners of my lips up, drop my eyes to half mast and feel my body. When I did this I could access that inner enlightenment.  I began to lift out more and more.

NATURE: Has always been a key for me. Taking time to be with nature first thing in the morning, a cloud outside an apartment, a little flower growing in the cement, a tree an animal. These bring me for a little while.

QUESTIONING MY THOUGHTS: We think thoughts are real…did you know that you change your thought each time you return to it, as Dr Hansen, in “Hardwiring Happiness” tells us. Byron Katie came out of massive depression through just questioning her thoughts. I discovered that thoughts are just thoughts and I began questioning them.

MINDFULNESS: I took time each day to be with everything I did. When we remember and are present in what we do, it brings us away from our thoughts and into a moment of meditation and light. I feel the water on my hands when I wash them, feel the tea slipping down my throat as i drink it and I just took time to be with moments of life.

SETTING UP MY DAY: Before you getting out of bed I'd decide how I wanted to feel today, then remember a time when I felt this way and feel it through my body. I sit outside with the dogs and watch the sun rise each morning. When I set up the day, it usually goes well, or better and it's easier to access the bridge to light. 

In the next blog I’ll explore how to navigate relationships. Listen to our podcasts on itunes and check out our website