Hello! Who are you?
Hello! I am Michelle Thielen, born, raised, and still dwelling in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband Derek and our 4-legged kids.
I had a career in Architecture and Design for 15 years before starting a yoga school, YOGAFAITH, in 2013. After a wilderness season, divorce, depression, and a suicide attempt, gratefully, I found my way back to a beautiful and thriving life, where I am the happiest I have ever been!
A few of my passions include the arts. I grew up dancing, acting, playing piano, and modeling. These run deep in my veins, along with traveling the globe, speaking to others about living a life of purpose and passion, aiding in anti-trafficking efforts, and raising awareness about animal suffering.
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What is your struggle and when did it start?
After an affair and divorce, I lost my job and what seemed like everything at the time. I began to fall into a deep dark pit that felt like there was no way to escape. It seemed like I was in heavy quicksand that kept burying me in any attempt to escape. Everything around me was dark and heavy. I was angry, bitter, and held resentment and unforgiveness that was poisoning my insides.
The deeper the pit, the more isolated I became. Isolation is the enemy of our soul. It keeps us alone in our shame, anger, or fill-in-the-blank.
When we are alone in despair, there are no voices of reason. In this condition, our voice can’t be listened to because it’s full of lies, fears, and halfway truths that only sound good to our ears.
But these voices are unreasonable and dangerous. They may convince you to harm yourself or kill yourself as in my situation. I entertained these lies for far too long and acted out on them. The more isolated I became, the deeper the depression and hopelessness set in. There was no exit to this wilderness, or so it seemed.
There have been times when depression tried to rear its ugly head once again. Not too long ago I heard the same old – and dangerous – voice, “The world really would be better off without you.”
How did this struggle make you feel at your worst moments?
This isolation, anger, unforgiveness, depression, and hopeless feeling were nothing I had ever experienced before. It was downright terrifying. The battle warring for my mind, heart, and my soul was tangible. I no longer remembered what happiness was or felt like.
Darkness and light can be like oil and vinegar, they just don’t like each other, and it’s impossible to mix the two. In my depression and darkness, I didn’t want to let light in. This included friends, and family, the ones that could help me, pull me out of the pit, and speak with voices of reason. Oh, if only I knew then what I know now.
When you experience a traumatic or grieving life event, it’s heartbreaking, yes, but it can be so shameful that those dangerous voices lead us to believe that our best days are behind us. That we can never be happy again – laugh again, and they just keep talking…talking…talking…
It feels impossible to change the narrative. We need others, we need help. Whether someone is offering their help or you need to ask for it, do it. As much as we want to stay isolated or ‘check out’ from life, hopelessness and isolation is the most dangerous place to be.
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Was there a moment when you started to turn things around?
One day my mom used her spare key to come in. She came upstairs to my bedroom and told me that I needed to open the blinds and let some light in. She walked over to open the blinds and the light blinded me like a vampire.
Neither of us had ever understood depression. As a child, I would ask, “Why can’t they ‘just’ get out of bed?” After she opened the blinds, she asked me to sit up, walk around, and just ‘get up.’ But I couldn’t. All I wanted was for the light to go away. “Please close the blinds!”
Eventually, after many attempts, it would be God and my mom who ushered in the light during these dark times. I was depressed for over a year turning down friends, jobs, church, and many other events. I was so close to ending my life, until God reached His arm down and pulled me out of the deepest, darkest pit I had ever known.
What steps did you take to overcome your struggle?
At my darkest point, I attempted to take my own life. When I went to commit the act, I heard an audible voice say, “If you do this you will kill your mom of a broken heart.” It was as if a lightning bolt stuck through my entire body and jolted me out of a longtime trance.
Those words sobered me up and I began to crawl back into the light of day.
I received knowledge that if God could create this world by His words, then I could do the exact same in my world. I began speaking life instead of death. I had to change my thoughts to change my world.
Though the uphill climb out of the valley was difficult and long, I put one foot in front of the other each morning.
I did the things I knew to do: Get out of bed, get dressed, brush my teeth, and declare that I mattered, that I belonged, and taking up real estate on planet Earth was a gift to be treasured not snuffed out.
It’s vital that you speak life-giving words aloud. You must get them out into the Universe – so that you hear them, believe them, and that God, the Universe, and all the laws of attraction can hear you too!
Another life-altering action I took is to forgive those who were harming my internal landscape. I had to release the poison within, Lord knows that those people moved on with their life years ago, they weren’t thinking of me, yet I was still stewing over them.
Have you shared any of this with people around you in real life?
Adultery, divorce, depression, and suicide like us to be in isolation, stuck in our shame, and causing us to live with the lie that we are no good… That we have messed up far beyond repair and that we will never be the same or accepted again.
I was stuck in shame, and you may be too. We were not built to be alone. We need community and this will be the one thing that can pull you out of any pit of despair faster than anything. Surround yourself with supportive and loving people, people who are rooting for your success.
Find someone you trust, a close friend, a pastor, a parent, or perhaps you need someone you don’t know that well allowing you to spill all – such as a therapist or a counselor.
Be sure it’s a safe, nonjudgmental, and supportive space. When you’re in the healing process you are vulnerable, one hurt can trigger you back into a downward spiral.
Stay connected to a support system and you’ll learn that love always wins!
If you could give a single piece of advice to someone else that struggles, what would that be?
Forgiveness is key. I could forgive others easier than I could myself. I’m writing these words just for you:
It’s time to forgive yourself! It’s time to let yourself off the hook so you can live again! Don’t waste one more second of your life believing lies. You matter! You belong and you deserve happiness and love!
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, YouTube channels, or other resources for you?
- The Bible: The day after I almost killed myself, I opened the Bible to Psalms 1, what started as a whisper and wishing, turned into confident affirmations that I believed!
- Your Best Life Now by Joel Osteen: Joel’s first book changed my life during my depression. It taught me how to think right.
Where can we go to learn more about you?
The last decade I’ve spent sharing YOGAFAITH, certifying instructors around the world, and authored two books, Stretching Your Faith: Practicing Postures of Prayer to Create Peace, Balance, and Freedom, as well as Exit Wilderness, A Road Map Out of Depression and Hopelessness.
💡 By the way: If you want to start feeling better and more productive, I’ve condensed the information of 100’s of our articles into a 10-step mental health cheat sheet here. 👇
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Want to help others with your story? We would love to publish your interview and have a positive impact on the world together. Learn more here.