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Childhood drowning leads to lifetime of after-effects

I'm almost 60 now and my NDE happened when I was about 10 at summer camp. This was the only year my little sister and I went to camp. She is 3 years younger than me.

The camp was a western-themed camp in our home state of California. We had a great time riding horses and exploring. The day of my NDE, all the camp kids and adults went to the Russian River for canoe rides.

This was in the early 1970's and rubber rafts weren't a thing; we used wooden canoes. My sister and I were good swimmers and when life jackets were being handed out, they ran out. Kids that could swim did not get one. Neither my sister nor I had a life jacket.

The river is very long and our camp was divided into two groups. The first group did the first half of the river, the second group did the last half. My sister and I did the first half, very calm water, enjoyable and fun. In the canoe was me, my sister and an adult woman. When we got to the half way mark some people chose to continue and do the second leg of the river with the second group. Our canoe was one of those that decided to continue.

We were behind the other canoes and no one was in sight. This second part of the trip was a bit scary. After a while we ran into white water and lots of small and large rocks protruding from the river. It was exciting but scary, navigating around the rocks while being knocked around in the water. We lost control of our canoe and veered left toward a large rock about five feet from the edge of the river. We hit the rock and the canoe flipped over. I was pinned underneath the canoe.

I must have hit my head on the rocks in the river. I remember "waking up" and realizing I was pinned under the canoe. I was not scared, I felt calm and was not freaking out about not breathing. It was pitch black and quiet but I knew I was lying on my back under the canoe. I felt for the canoe edge to see if I could lift it up but I couldn't. I then searched for the air pocket at the bottom of the canoe which was above me. I did not feel an air pocket and I could not lift my torso up to reach it anyway so I decided to sleep. I was very calm and it was dark so a nap sounded like a good idea.

All of a sudden, I was awake and was watching what looked like a slide show of photos. These were my life, good times and bad being shown to me so fast I could not even think about each slide; all I could do was watch. I had a good feeling about my life. I was happy and peaceful.

The next thing I remember was standing up in the water, next to the canoe with my little sister clinging to me and crying. She kept saying, " We thought you were dead! We thought you were dead!" I looked at the adult and she seemed to be in shock, just kind of standing there looking at me, not saying anything. I was angry because I wanted to be back at the nice dark quiet place where there was no noise or pain. I was in a lot of pain, scratches hurting and bruises everywhere. 

We made it back to the pick-up site where the truck took us all back to the camp in time for dinner. The adult never said anything to the other adults and my sister and I never told anyone, not even our parents. I did eventually tell my dad when I was in my 40's.

In my 20's I saw a medium and she told me that I had died and was told I needed to come back because it was not my time, even though I wanted to stay. I have been depressed since I was a kid (dysthymia, a low-grade depression that's always there and never goes away). I am also very sensitive to light, sounds and temperature. I can become very overwhelmed and have panic attacks.

In my 20's I had a lot of pre-cognitive experiences. I would see things before they happened. I would also have dreams that would come true. Lamps and my TV would go on and off when I came into the room. One by one, street lights would go out when I drove under them.

In my 30's I had a very hard time with my depression getting worse and I was in a clinical depression and was suicidal. I felt like I was watching my life and not participating in it. Like I was waiting for my "real life" to start. I felt a dissociation with my body, like I was wrapped in insulation bubble.

After many years of therapy groups, one-on-one therapy and Prozac, I felt better and was able to move on.

I’ll be 60 in a few months and I have a good life, taking care of dogs, working for myself. I'm mostly happy and am not afraid of dying. 


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