My Journey from Trauma and Abuse to Healing
Integrative health and well-being coach Leah Martinson tells her inspirational story of reclaiming her mental and physical health and finding her purpose in life after childhood trauma.
It was 2007 in the emergency department of the Boulder Community Health hospital in Colorado. The lights were unbearably bright, the taste of charcoal in my mouth was making me gag, and the social worker that was attempting my psych evaluation seemed extremely frustrated with me.
I was barely coherent, but I remember feeling completely defeated and thinking that I could not even successfully kill myself. This was my rock bottom—and it was the beginning of my journey into wholeness. This is a story about how I found my power and unlocked my soul from the bondage of trauma and mental illness.
I was born with a progressive eye disease and have slowly lost my eyesight throughout my life. I have about 10% of my eyesight remaining and continue to lose what is left at a slow and gradual pace. In addition to receiving the diagnoses of my eye disease at age five, I experienced childhood trauma as the victim of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.
I struggled socially and emotionally as an adolescent. The pre-teen and teenage years are tender and challenging for everyone. But when there is something about you that clearly sets you apart from your peers, it can be a recipe for isolation. I was a target for bullies. I felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere. I believed that this world was not meant for me and I did not deserve to be in it. By the age of 26 I was regularly binge drinking. I’d received a diagnosis of bipolar II and felt depressed, anxious, and hopeless.
This is a story about how I found my power and unlocked my soul from the bondage of trauma and mental illness.
My suicide attempt was my wake-up call. With the support of my amazing younger brother, I threw away the booze and pills. This began the long, arduous, and incredibly beautiful trek of putting the pieces of my life together for the first time. I found a therapist and community of support to start unpacking the trauma and uncovering the beauty and light of my soul, which I had lost sight of.
Stepping into the untouched realms of my trauma was terrifying. I was not sure I could handle processing all the pain, facing my deepest fears, and releasing the resentments I carried. Every step I took into the darkest corners of my past experiences unlocked a part of me that gave me the exact amount of strength and courage I needed to take the next step. As I walked the path of healing my deepest pain and finding relief from my suffering, I became more and more curious about life and the human experience.
I always believed somewhere in me that there was something bigger out there running the show of this thing we call life. When I finally found my way to tapping into that bigger something, everything started coming together. I have now come to believe that our human experiences are part of the soul’s journey to learning the lessons we were sent here to learn, and that the experiences we have cause our suffering to have meaning.
I have now come to believe that our human experiences are part of the soul’s journey to learning the lessons we were sent here to learn.
My path to becoming an integrative health coach was a pivotal turning point on this journey. The training involved a deep dive into understanding myself, my beliefs and behavior patterns. As I developed an intimate understanding of, and relationship with, myself, I was able to see the beauty within that I had been blind to.
In addition to cultivating a deeper level of self-awareness, I did a complete overhaul of the way I was eating, started moving my body on a regular basis, and found a meditation practice. I discovered how essential routine and ritual is and learned that consistent, regular sleep is foundational for me.
After finding my way to feeling physically healthier and a little more mentally stable, I found myself wanting to go deeper. I was on the search for deeper meaning and purpose. I discovered various spiritual realms such as shamanism and Sufi spiritual healing, and this is where it all came together. For me, having an intentional practice around connecting to God/source energy/the universe—whatever you happen to call it—fulfills my sense of purpose in this world and gives meaning to all aspects of life. Gratitude, love, compassion, and deep connection to the beings around me is what makes my soul sing its power song.
Several practitioners and healing modalities supported my journey. I have worked with therapists, coaches, bodyworkers, acupuncturists, functional medicine doctors, various spiritual healers. I have trained in mind-body practices and self-compassion work.
My path to becoming an integrative health coach was a pivotal turning point on this journey.
Fourteen years into this journey, I feel the most grounded and connected I have ever felt. I no longer have a diagnosis of bipolar and am free of all medications. When anxiety creeps up, I know something is out of alignment and this is my cue to pause and re-center.
There are four things that I always keep sight of:
- true work – Does my work align with my values and purpose?
- true learning – Do the things I put my energy into learning support my work and personal growth and development?
- true rest – Am I getting enough sleep and time to simply just be and not do?
- true play – Do I let myself tap into my creativity and let myself be playful and joyous?
Making sure all four of these areas are tended to and expressed regularly is essential.
Today, I have a quite different perspective on life and my life’s journey, and I know these three things to be true for me:
- I once saw blindness as a disability, and now I see that it is my superpower into insight and connection.
- Everyone has value and deserves love.
- My soul’s purpose is to see the lovability of the soul inside every human being, and all my life experiences were necessary for me to learn my passion and purpose.
I see love, both love for self and others, as the remedy to our suffering. The journey into loving is a path that invites courage, strength, and the willingness to allow others to be of service to you on this voyage into the art of being human.
We all have the ability to heal, to become whole and truly aligned with our sense of purpose. This is the telling of how my experiences led me to the uncovering of my soul. We all have a unique path and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to healing.
As a nationally board-certified health and wellness coach and founder of Visionairium Healing, LLC, Leah Martinson empowers individuals and teams to live healthier, emotionally balanced, and productive lives. Her graduate-level education, advanced training through the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, nearly 20 years of professional experience, and deep, intuitive listening style suit clients with chronic stress and other challenges. As a speaker and workshop facilitator, Leah combines her own personal story of hope and strategies adapted from motivational interviewing, nonviolent communication, appreciative inquiry, positive psychology, and mindfulness, among other approaches. www.visionairium.com