It took a brush with death for Erica to truly embrace her life and her true Self

Erica McKenzie, a registered Nurse, was able to find and love her authentic Self only catalysed through a crisis, which she now sees as a blessing, that led to an NDE (near death experience). Erica’s words will resonate with many;

“I’ve spent my entire life trying to be everything to everyone, and in the process I lost myself.”

Through the messages received during her transcendent state of consciousness, she discovered that it was going within, listening to our intuition and surrendering to ‘God’ (which others term, Source or the Divine / the Universe), is the only answer we need to find our purpose in life. That purpose is to be true to ourselves, for each one of us has a unique gift to offer the world.

Here Erica recounts her incredible brush with death that led her in and out of a psychiatric unit…

Erica McK

Many of us feel lost and struggle to find direction and purpose in life.  In my case, one of the most challenging things I was faced with learning was to love my unique self, just as God made me.  In fact, this challenge was one that stuck with me my entire childhood and accompanied me into adulthood.  I spent too many years wanting others to accept me and was convinced that changing myself to fit in with whomever I was around at the time, was the answer.  This behavior sent me down a path where I made several poor choices which included a twelve-year battle with bulimia and a drug problem that ultimately led to my death.

I was unaware that in my desperation to fit in, I wasn’t changing the right things as I stifled myself and put value on other’s impressions and expectations of me instead of to God.  In doing so, I must admit, it’s been quite the battle to learn to love and accept myself for who I am and be at peace with knowing that I AM ENOUGH.  I had become so lost that in the few moments before I died all I could think was, Who am I?  As I took my last breath, I couldn’t remember my name.

That fateful day in 2002, I went on to have a Near-Death Experience.  That experience was the point of my awakening which led to my transformation.  My experience taught me so many lessons but one of the most important things I learned was that, “Your uniqueness is your value and your value is your contribution on this Earthly Journey.”  It doesn’t matter who you are or aren’t, if you are here on this planet, you are valuable!  I quickly came to appreciate the significance of this knowledge and for the first time in my human existence, I finally understood; My uniqueness is my value because it holds my unique blueprint and unique gifts that serve to truly fulfill my life’s purpose.  In fact, it is who I am and what it meant to be me.

The mind is a powerful thing, and yet it fails in comparison to the knowledge found within our spiritual hearts.  That knowledge is divine power.  If we choose, we can unlock the answers by turning within and reconnecting to our creator through our hearts.  I discovered it is through this connection that I remember who I am and it is through this connection that I am able to grow and nurture unconditional love for myself.  By doing so, we can recognize and develop a connection with our Creator, fueled and sustained by unconditional love.

This unconditional love is the key to ignite the power within.  When we seek that power within, we gain the knowledge needed to help us through every life experience, and as we step into our power, we reveal our blueprint and gifts. Our blueprint is unique just like you, which means no one else has one the same. It is by design, the pattern that when followed; helps us to see that we are spiritual beings having a human experience, our sense of self, our identity and beyond the boundaries that may try to define our authentic life. It is also there we’re able to see that we can overcome fundamental human limitations, and it was revealed to me that it is through our connection with God, that we can access them on an exceedingly profound level. It is there that we find the power and knowledge needed to overcome and heal from every change we face no matter how challenging or difficult. We can get through them, grow, and come out stronger because our blueprint contains the most vital information essential for us to fully embrace change and to attain total health and wellness by gaining the knowledge needed to help us heal from our challenging life experiences.

This blueprint holds the unique information necessary for us to create profound healing of our body, mind, spirit and identify, grow and use our unique gifts at the capacity and magnitude for which they were designed. We each have these unique gifts and these God-given gifts are incredibly powerful contributions on our Earthly Journey. To fully achieve their potential, we must use these gifts in conjunction with each other. It’s only when we come to the table with our unique selves, whether it’s the business table, the relationship table, or the dinner table, that we empower each other and can go on to do great things.

As I realized all of this, then it happened. In the winter of 2002, I surrendered and in doing so, I knew this meant that I could no longer look to others for my value and wonder what people think about me. I had to refuse to let those feelings define me. In the face of change, I may not have all the answers but I don’t have to look to others for approval and having feelings of uncertainty is actually… ok.  I acknowledge those feelings, using them as tools that help me trust there is nothing I can’t get through because I see things differently now.  I have faith that God is at work in my life, and He has the answers so I don’t have to have them. It is a huge relief and comfort to let go and let God. It helps me to be free to focus on my responsibility, to be present for the changes that I am faced with, not trying to control but embrace them. At the same time, I remain true to and love my unique self, for it is there that I will find my value and that value is my contribution here on my Earthly journey.

My purpose is to learn. My mission is to serve. My heart is to love. My boss is God and my work is to be me.  It was easy to accept this challenge when I was in Heaven with God so armed with this new Divine knowledge, I returned from my NDE more determined than ever to share my story in hopes to help to create needed healing and awakening in others who were hurting.

When I regained consciousness, I found myself in a hospital bed and didn’t know how much time had passed.  I was desperately trying to make sense of my trip to Heaven when a doctor walked into my room and asked me how I was.  I remember being flooded with a sense of urgency to share my NDE with him.  As the words came flying out of my mouth, I began to sense his disbelief and concern for my mental health.  Without a word he quietly left the room and returned several hours later.  At this time, my NDE was dismissed, labeled a delusion and replaced with a medical diagnosis of late onset bipolar disorder.  What followed next was a trip to the psychiatric ward against my will for sharing my experience with God.

Overcome with memories from nursing school, I remembered the rotation I had on the psych ward as a nursing student. It was one of the more difficult things I’ve done. I felt like the patients there were forgotten people. My instructor said it was important to appear attentive and to act as if you were listening. “Mental health care provides people the opportunity to lead a normal life like everyone else, and these people are not normal,” she stated.

She also said not to believe what the patients were saying because they were not speaking truth, but merely attempting to manipulate. I knew it was wrong in nursing school and didn’t understand how some people could be so cruel. I was told they were crazy. Yet several of them appeared to have the ability to communicate with something we couldn’t see. I felt that many of them were medicated because of it. It was horrible.

I grew up believing that the purpose of medicine was to heal the sick, not to turn people into something they were not. Here I was, years later, in the exact same position as some of those patients, being dismissed and medicated because I had an experience, a crisis, the doctor couldn’t explain.

Call sharing my NDE crazy if you must – you won’t hear me challenge it. But what did being crazy really mean? And did it constitute a solution if the cure came in the form of a pill? Maybe I was just broken and lost or maybe I was displaying acute mental distress that was evolving into a positive healing transformation.

I realized through my own experience that those patients needed to be heard by an educated, empathetic and caring staff. I couldn’t help but feel the majority of the drugs administered to many of these patients acted as a Band-aid, only able to reduce or mask the symptoms temporarily, if they were therapeutic at all. I sensed the drugs affected the ability of several of the patients to think clearly. Even more terrifying, I sensed the drugs were changing those people, and I’m certain in some cases they blocked communication to God.

It was a crash course in mental health care, starting with my perceived “crazy behavior and delusions.” I learned in nursing school that medication was the most “therapeutic” way to treat “crazy behavior and delusions.”

Now the tables were turned. I realized it was a multidimensional lesson. Everything that happened to me up until the day I died, including my trip to Heaven, Hell and the psych ward, was preparing me to help myself and others. That help would include educating the medical community about near-death experiences, the presence of God and our ability to connect with our Creator, as a miracle, not a medical issue. In fact, those miracles would provide great healing.

I later learned that my trip to Heaven was called a near-death experience or NDE (http://ndestories.org/). During my NDE, I learned that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. I can’t imagine the countless individuals who have experienced spiritual events and have been medicated and dismissed because of it. When does communicating with the unseen or spiritual realm validate a diagnosis of psychosis? It appears society, and especially the medical community, is in dire need of education on NDE’s from a spiritual level. The effect of doing so would have the potential to increase their receptiveness and support of their patients’ experiences.

Going through the experience in the hospital revealed to me a lot about myself. I honestly had no idea that eventually, I would be able to view this tragic experience as a great opportunity for learning, but it’s true. Today, I can share that I am thankful for all of the experiences in the mental health facility because these lessons have shown me how strong a person I really am. It’s true that no one can define my potential greatness. But I don’t have to be a victim, and that is empowering!  At the same time, I knew before I could begin to fix the system and help others, I had to heal myself. I was broken, so it was going to be hard work because it was a constant battle between healing and changing me. I understood these to be two completely different approaches, and according to everything I had just learned in Heaven, it was more evident to me than ever that the answer wasn’t to change me. Even if the staff had the best intentions for restoring my health, it was clear that their approach was going to lead to changing, not healing, me. I identified the need for education once more, but this time it was essential for all of us, as I came to comprehend the significant meaning of the word “change.” I understood for many that the word change had taken on a meaning that had the potential to improve or destroy the human condition.

And yet there was no doubt in my mind that all the obstacles I had been through and the roadblocks that were ahead were no match for the knowledge I gained in Heaven. I knew that with God all things were possible.

I’ve spent my entire life trying to be everything to everyone and in the process I lost myself. I have loved many but I couldn’t love myself. I didn’t think I was good enough or deserving of that self-love. And I felt selfish for wanting it. Now I see that way of thinking was not healthy because thinking that way and engaging in toxic behaviors changed me and led me in the opposite direction from becoming a self-advocate and completing my earthly mission.

My NDE has not changed my life. It has given me life by opening my eyes to see my value. It has reawakened me to the real Erica, the little child who was in touch with God and His gifts before I let fear in and started to stifle my feelings, doubted my intuition and drowned out the voice of God in effort to listen to others. Listening to my feelings, intuition and God first, I found that I could use them as powerful tools and as a catalyst for creating a healthy life. I knew what was best for me. Which meant I could finally begin to fully access my blueprint. It was time for me to get real with myself by taking full responsibility for my health. So, armed with my tools, I began the long and challenging road that would lead to healing, valuing my life, and becoming an advocate for myself and others. My hope is not just to have the strength to change but to also be the change needed to bring light to the world.

“You matter.  You are important.  You are unique.  You are valuable and most of all You are loved!”

Read Erica’s book here

Click HERE to watch interviews with Erica

If you’d like to share your story for the blog, or to be considered for our Kinda Proud book series, please CLICK HERE 

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