Letters to Your Younger Self: Overcoming Injury, Depression, Anxiety and Substance Use (Alain Cormier)

Letters to Your Younger Self

This is an ongoing project that YOU are able to take part in!

Ever wonder what it would be like if you could go back and talk to a younger version of yourself? What advice would you give? Would you warn them about things to come? Or would you just give them a hug? This page is dedicated to people who have written letters to their younger selves. This process is incredibly healing and by sharing them, I hope they are healing to you as well.  If you’d like to take part in this project, please email grant@balancedtrance.com



How old are you now? 27


If you could give this letter to your younger self, how old would you be? 17


(Alain, age 17)


Alright man, brace yourself, Life is about to get Real! You are moving out of the suffocating, yet comfortable confines of the educational system and beginning a serious quest for answers. It is with reason that you feel lost. You’ve never had proper time to find out who you REALLY are. You’ve been forced to try and fit into the mold of social expectations and it just never felt right for you. Now, you step out of this “trap” and you are free to truly start living. This is your warning though, the first 10 years of this ride will be, let’s say, very eventful.


Your first struggles are based around “the decision”. You know, the one that all students who graduate high school are expected to make. The moment when the childhood question of, “What do you want to be when you’re older?” is expected to be be resolved. But you, like many, many others in this day and age, don’t have a sweet clue what you want to do. You feel pressure to go straight to University like all the other “good students” seem to be doing. But the thought alone of committing to a 4-5 year educational program that would have you THOUSANDS of dollars in debt, basically signing your freedom away, just feels so wrong on so many levels. Good choice on trusting your instincts man! Even though it felt like you were letting so many people who cared about you down when you left for Alberta to work on the oil rigs, you listened to your heart, and now, 10 years down the road, I can tell you that it was the right call!


Alright, so here you are. “The Accident” just happened! You were out working in the oil field when a heavy piece of metal landed on your extended left leg, right at the knee joint. Your knee is messed right up, it never stood a chance. Yes, it seems like a freak accident, something totally out of your control.  But now looking back, I can tell you that it was somehow all planned out. Some sort of Divine Plan at play. What seems to be the biggest curse of your life in the moment, actually becomes a great gift, you just can’t see this yet. Your surgery goes well and you move back to your parent’s place in New-Brunswick. You’ve had enough of Alberta!  


Your knee is starting to feel strong again. You can skate and run and jump. You feel alive again, what a feeling!!! You decide, now is finally my time to go to University. It doesn’t feel entirely right but, if you never go, how will you ever know, right?!? So you begin a journey to becoming a teacher. It actually feels kinda good talking to people about it. You feel a sense of pride in saying, “Oh, I’m accepted in the education program at U deM, actually!” But you also feel a bit lost still. “Do I really want this, or am I giving in to social expectations?” But off you go anyways!


Your first year is a bit of a struggle, you’re smoking a bit too much weed while trying to get back into the groove of being a student. Due dates, quizzes and tests left and right… a lot to handle for a head that’s constantly stuck in the clouds. Here’s when anxiety starts to kick in, you get your first taste of it. Nothing too alarming. You tell yourself, “It’s probably a healthy thing, a bit of pressure never killed anyone.” Besides, most student seem to be in a similar boat, always worrying about what’s next.


Then, “Accident #2”! You wake up one morning, ready to take on the day, bounce up the stairs and BAM! You feel that same pop in your left knee, “NO! It can’t be!”. Your knee is locked straight and swelling sets in. You know right away, you’re fucked! Yup, you just tore that ACL, AGAIN!! You try to stay positive about it, somehow, but as the days, weeks and months pass and you’re still trotting along campus on your crutches waiting for your second surgery date, depression slowly sets in. Your will weakens and weakens until your “positive attitude” becomes clouded over by a full blown depression. You can’t even watch sporting event any more without feeling like crying. “Will I ever be able to play sports again?” You begin to constantly worry about the health of your knee.


This new pattern of worry grows and leads to worries about the overall health of your body. You also worry about your late assignments that you don’t at all feel like doing and you worry about the upcoming tests and exams. Before you know it, you’re living in the prison of your mind. You’re always worrying about the future! Always imagining the worst possible scenarios. Your thoughts become very destructive and a tight stomach and sweaty hands seem to become your new “normal”. You just don’t feel like yourself anymore and you feel like you’re always acting “weird” and that others are noticing. You become lost in a seemingly downward spiral of destructive thoughts about the past and the future. You’ve become a depressed and anxious wreck! “How did I end up here?”, you remember thinking. But hold tight man, it gets worst…


Your real “rock bottom” happens after your second surgery. You think you are doing better. Your knee is getting strong, AGAIN! You’re taking your rehab seriously this time. Optimism fills your being. “I’m getting out of this! I’m becoming myself again!”


Then comes that night, you go out to smoke a joint with a friend like you’ve done many, many times before. On your way home, you start to feel weird, very weird. You keep it to yourself though and drop your friend off at his place. It’s just you in your car now and your mind is racing, “Why am I feeling these tingles in my hands? Why is my stomach tightening? My face tensing? What’s going on here?” You pull over and you give in to the sensations and then it happens! You go into a full blown panic attack. It truly, truly feels like death. In full panic, your whole body tense as a board, you manage to pick up your phone and  call 9-1-1. The ambulance comes and off to the hospital you go. The doctor tells you that it was just a panic attack and that you will be fine. You can’t believe it, “How can my mind create such a destructive experience! WTF!?” You are now prone to panic attacks, and especially in your car. Great, just great!


Alright, so as crippling as you anxiety was, you do get over it. It takes a couple years to fully reverse the effects, but you do it! It actually becomes a great gift in your life because it forces you to search for Self-healing and you find it! You find your healing in meditation. So you stumble on the perfect book at the perfect time. You know how life goes! This book teaches you how meditation literally rewires the brain. Through a structured meditation practice you create new neuropathways in your brain. Ones that support peace, calm and serenity instead of destructive thoughts of fear and worry about the future. Silence truly becomes your medicine. You learn so much about the nature of the thinking mind and how destructive thought patterns are the foundation of mental illnesses like anxiety disorders and depression.


But things don’t get too rosy just yet.


Now you’ve overcame anxiety and depression (well done man!) and you are really feeling life deeply. You have a whole new appreciation for what it means to be human. You’ve quit University because it wasn’t completely aligned with your heart but you still feel quite lost.


So what does someone who is “lost” and has a newfound zest for being alive do? Well you explore, of course! You find work in the restaurant industry as a server, which is a great fit for you at this time in your life. It forces you to “break out of your shell”, which ends up being very healing! You are very curious by nature so you say “Yes!” to basically any new experience that comes your way. This launches you down the “party path”. You begin to find liberation in consuming drugs and alcohol. Initially, you feel like it’s helping you “find yourself”. When you are “partying” you feel so free to express your true self without fear of judgment of others. This liberation is so sweet that you begin to seek it out more and more. Very soon, you can’t have a few beers without wanting more! But, you can’t see the real severity of this habit just yet.


It takes alienation from your real friends and family (from which you keep this new life a secret) to realize that numbing your past pains is not the answer. But even upon realizing this, you still stay stuck in the lifestyle for a few more years. The things that once brought you liberation and ecstasy has now become a dark and lonely path that is void of anything real. You feel like you can’t express yourself fully without substances and these very substances are slowly destroying your health and relationships, which you once valued so much!


So now you’re 26 and in need of a serious change in scenery. You can’t go on living like this. You’ve always believed in your own potential and known that you have a lot to contribute to the world. An opportunity to move to a new city presents itself. You see this as your ticket to a new beginning so off to Halifax you go! For this fresh start, you are very wary of who you spend your time with and the kind of new people you call your new friends. You remember the main purpose of your move. You remain very cautious not to get sucked into the same old scene that you just escaped. You do find that scene a few times but realize that it really does not appeal to you anymore. These are not the types of people that you want to forge new friendships with. So you do yourself a huge favor and put an end to the parties. You finally stop behaving like a child and begin to take responsibility for your actions. And this shifts EVERYTHING!


At the end of your first summer in Halifax, you meet someone who becomes your mentor for your new path. You begin a career as a Lifestyle Coach! You’re FINALLY heading in a direction that is completely aligned with your values and visions of a meaningful contribution to the world. This journey demands of you to let go of many old self-sabotaging habits and overcome some deep rooted fears. You turn to your spirituality as a pillar for your growth and development. You find deep healing in your practices of yoga, meditation, journaling and a few other healing modalities. For the first time in your life, you begin to actually overcome your fears and heal your childhood pains. You realize that you numbed your senses with drugs and alcohol because for your entire life you felt unseen, unworthy, unimportant, not good enough… The more you dig within, the stronger you get.


You meet amazing, inspiring new people who are on their own versions of the journey you’ve just embarked on. These people resonate with you on a deep, deep level. You’ve finally found your tribe! You are a healer! It’s at this point that you realize that before you could step up to the plate as a healer, you needed to experience pain. You had to first heal yourself in order to learn how to help others heal themselves. The last 10 or so years of your life was literally your training ground. It was your “bachelor’s degree in Life”! And NOW, after 10 whole years of trials and tribulation, you are finally living your mission. What a wild ride! You know in your heart though, that there was no other way to get to where you’ve always somehow known you were meant to end up!




Alain 🙂

(Alain, age 28)

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