How to survive falling apart (during your Saturn Return)

One of the most popular articles in my blog is one I wrote in 2020 as I was in the midst of a deep depression (who wasn’t dealing with mental health issues back then, amiright?). I was unraveling, falling apart mentally and emotionally. And apparently a lot of you relate.

Hello darkness, my old friend…

When I wrote that article, I thought my emotional meltdowns, breakdowns and spirals were mostly related to the pandemic. But I was wrong.

I recently learned what underpinned my unraveling (or perhaps awakening?): my Saturn Return. This astrological event happens every 29.5 years and it means that the planet Saturn does a full rotation and returns to the exact location in the sky it was in when you were born.

In astrology, Saturn is the planet that rules Big Life Lessons, Maturity, Tough Love and generally ensures to beat down — to finally absorb and implement — the wisdom you haven’t yet learned up to this point. So you can imagine why this period tends to be messy, filled with tearful tantrums and people feeling like they are falling apart at the seams. (You can calculate your Saturn Return here.)

I visualize my Saturn Return dragging me around and around for prolonged periods of time (as I screamed and wailed lol) then punching me down some more until I was broken enough, open enough, receptive enough, soft enough to learn what I needed to learn.

It wasn’t pretty. Was it necessary? Absolutely. Old me loved dwelling on the past, catastrophizing, giving into my neurosis, deluding myself, etc. I’m grateful to my rocky Saturn Return because it taught me Profound Life concept that I understood intellectually but not viscerally. Things like forgiveness, acceptance, worthiness, intuition, self-love, patience and letting go.

My actual transit was from March through October 2021 which explains the year I had. If 2020 was defined by depression, 2021 was defined by unnerving anxiety and general uneasiness. Ironically, in 2021, I went on sleeping meds because the insomnia (fueled by anxiety) was out of control. In 2022, I considered going on antidepressants because I was running out of options.

What’s interesting about Saturn Returns is that some people may experience its shattering effects 1–2 years prior to the actual transit period. Which explains why I entered a dark void in October of 2019 that I would continue to sink deeper and deeper into until slowly starting to make my way back out of it — after I had learned what the Universe needed me to learn.

But I don’t want you to think I had two shit years back to back — they were definitely challenging and uncomfortable but there was also so much joy, love, connection and delight so if you’re entering your Saturn Return or going through an emotionally dark period, try not to be scared (which is asking a lot) but rather curious. What do you hope this period will bring you? How can you ensure to work with it rather than resist it?

Because when you do work with it, magic awaits you. My whole 20s, I yearned for inner freedom — to have a calm, peaceful inner world. Not the anxiety-ridden storms and hurricanes that I experienced which alternated with avalanches of sadness. And after two transformative, tumultuous, life-changing years, I’m starting to bask in that glorious inner freedom I’ve longed for and recently worked so hard for.

Surviving Rock Bottom

So how did I get through it all? To the point that I have the audacity to encourage you to embrace whatever difficulty or pain you’re dealing with. The simple truth? With change and lots of external support.

My depression rock bottom was certainly in the fall/winter of 2020. That was my lowest point. Then I moved to Mexico in December of that year to embark on the digital nomad dream under vastly different circumstances than I ever imagined (Depressed! Working full time for my job and not yet earning any income from my biz!).

This change of scenery and energy is what I needed. I went there with the intention to heal myself. I got distracted for a few months in the party scene then in February 2021, I started healing in earnest. I dove in. On a weekly basis, I had therapy, reiki and energy/emotional healing sessions that helped me to connect with myself and to feel all the pent up emotions from the past. On a daily basis I meditated, did EFT, did yoga/exercised and did breathwork.

And on a frequent basis I incorporated sweat lodge ceremonies (temazcal), massages, reading Buddhist books, praying while spiraling, confiding in close friends about my journey, taking herbal supplements and anything else that seemed helpful. Sis needed all the help she could get!

I’m gonna be honest here: at some point after months of consistently doing all this, I wondered if I’d ever feel better. Because all this helped tremendously but it didn’t feel like enough. And this was fueled by my expectation of wanting to heal in 3–4 months or whatever timeline I’d come up with in my head. But this process takes time, it doesn’t give a fuck about your timelines. So this requires major courage on your part. To face the depths of ourselves in the bravest thing we’ll ever do, but the most rewarding too.

More recently, life coaching has served me wonders. I’m currently enrolled in a life coaching training and as practice, all trainees are coaches and clients to each other. And coaching has proven to be what I needed in this last leg of my healing journey. Which is why I’m ecstatic to be able to help people dealing with similar emotional issues as myself (ideally, in addition to therapy). And really any other area of life that seems deeply satisfying to you.

The healing, growing and transformation I cultivated this year is because I did things differently. I sought help and support (which I never did before, I always turned to my journal), and I allowed myself to receive it. Of course, no healing journey is the same. So what worked for me may not resonate with you, and that’s okay.

In the past, I’ve always prioritized self-development on my own but there is only so much improvement we can do alone. If you want to quantum leap from the darkness you’re in, you’re gonna need help. To survive your unraveling, you better start forming a team of healers/practitioners to help guide you through whatever you’re facing.

It may be cliched but it’s true: when embraced, breakdowns do lead to breakthroughs.

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Luz Cadena is a writer & the founder of Life of Leisure — a wellness movement to help overwhelmed women reclaim their time during the age of busyness + workism.

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Rocio "Luz" Cadena

Rocio "Luz" Cadena

Luz Cadena is a writer & the founder of Life of Leisure — a wellness movement to help overwhelmed women reclaim their time during the age of busyness + workism.

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