When a friend of mine suggested that I read Erica McKenzie’s book Dying to Fit In, I both wanted to read the book and didn’t. I don’t read many self-published books because I am a bit of a snob when it comes to what I choose to read in my spare time. However, I want to support other NDErs, and I knew McKenzie’s book examines the subject of addiction; this is part of my story as well. I appreciated Dr. Raviv Parti’s description of his struggles with prescription meds, and since he wrote the foreword to her book I gave Dying to Fit In a chance.
What I Loved About the Book: McKenzie covers many topics in her book, starting with bullying and the deep pain it can inflict on others. This topic is timely and relevant as bullying continues non-stop for many students in online environments. Junior high is a tough time for many, and McKenzie captures the cruelty of this age early in her book. Her descriptions are relatable, and I hope that young women who are being bullied, struggling with bulimia, or a body dysmorphic disorder might find her book. Dying to Fit In might give solace and spiritual solution to such pain. Wounds from our early years can indeed affect our emotional health for a long while if we don’t actively work to release them.
We live in one of the cruelest, most materialistic cultures, and women are punished for a lack of physical attractiveness and punished because of their physical attractiveness. The beauty of a woman’s soul and mind is often neglected in favor of judging her corporeal form that is only young for a brief part of her overall life. It is no wonder that so many girls and women consider shuffling “off this mortal coil” when they are under constant assault for their appearances and not seen for their true self.
To make matters worse, women rarely bond together to support one another and care for one another’s souls and journeys. The gossipy nature and judgmental nature of many women is disheartening, and the author clearly captures these disappointing interactions. I was reminded of why I preferred to give unconditional love to my students and stay in the mode of helping them, than to sit in teacher’s lounges and listen to complaints and judgements about students who I adored.
One of the most well-written chapters in the book is the discussion of prescription medications for weight loss and the author’s reliance on these pills. Her background as a R.N. is evident, and that makes her argument for how the medical community should change in response to NDEs even more powerful.
The Near-Death Experience and Aftereffects: The descriptions of the unconditional love of God is always my favorite part of everyone’s near-death experience. Basically, no one has a clue how to love themselves completely the way that God loves us. To feel that love, is to experience the greatest force imaginable, and Dying to Fit In demonstrates how profound and life-changing a moment like that can be. I won’t give away the details of her experience. She talks openly about her NDE, and you can view her story on YouTube. In Dying to Fit In, McKenzie comprehensively covers her experience in the afterlife, and these lessons stayed with her. McKenzie chooses to continue to hear the voice of God and believe in this connection, and she works to help others see their unique value.
What people sometimes forget is that dying is itself a physical trauma that can cause panic attacks, and in many cases the accidents or the reason behind the experiencer’s death can leave the experiencer with health issues. Dying to Fit In covers the author’s journey to greater health which is usually found through detox and rebuilding of the body. Holistic medicine and approaches make a lot of sense to me, and I couldn’t agree more with her focus on health.
Paranormal Occurrences: I am a very open-minded reader, and communicate with spirits, guides, angels, and God. I, too, experienced premonitions and pre-cognition after my near-death experience. The reminders McKenzie gives us to pay attention to the voice of God and our intuition is an important message, especially when we might be able to help others with this information. I felt lucky, blessed even, to have so many students flowing through my classrooms, and that kind of insight came to me unexpectedly when I opened myself and asked to be of service to my students. I don’t doubt that the author has helped many people with her insights and psychic abilities.
In my life, I have also received messages about when someone was going to die, much like the author. It is quite common to have a biological and spiritual tie to those in our families and know when they might die. Psychic abilities, after-death communication, out of body experiences, lucid dreaming, and angels appearing in human form are not out of the ordinary, and I did not have a problem with these descriptions while reading this book. I even relate to what she is saying about Heaven School and how she continues to receive guidance from beyond.
However, claims of psychokinesis or telekinesis are harder claims to digest without verification. If this can be verified and duplicated, then that needs to happen. For centuries, these claims have been proven false, so most readers are not going to accept this part of her story as fact. The description of moving pages of a phone book with her mind as a child comes unexpectedly and early in the book. If telekinesis is something many people have experienced or witnessed firsthand, I would like to hear about this from readers.
I am more than familiar with the aftereffects of NDEs, and I know that my energy has an effect on light bulbs, watches, cell phones, and computers. I was skeptical in the beginning, but over time I cannot deny this phenomenon. I also know firsthand that energy work can be powerful and healing, even from a distance. However, levitation is another claim that is difficult to believe.
I occasionally listen to Neil deGrasse Tyson, and he has a humorous bit about swami levitation. Basically, I need further convincing to believe that telekinesis and levitation are possible. So, if you happen to witness a NDEr float on the way to the bathroom, for the sake of the rest of the world please pull out your phone and capture this moment. I want to be as open-minded as possible, so this is only my reaction based on what I have experienced and read. However, I can imagine that some readers might also have problems with the descriptions of telekinesis and levitation.
Sweet Moments: The author’s description of animals and the beautiful patients in hospice are heart-warming moments in this book. Animals do teach us unconditional love, and being near those who are dying and supporting them in that transition is easy and natural for NDErs since we do not fear the dying process.
Overall, the author’s heart seems to be in the right place. She describes her struggle, so that others might find a way out of pain and choose to bring more of the light of God into their lives. She speaks with the hope that the medical community might better support NDErs and certainly never classify these experiences as a mental illness. A connection with a divine, loving God is the exact opposite of illness; it is healing.
Dying to Fit In is written with the intention to help others, so I don’t want to play the role of a literary critic and discuss sections that might have worked better eliminated, or told in flashback without an adherence to chronological order. This book reminds us of our connection to one another and the importance of being gentle and loving with our words and actions. This book reminds us of what is possible and what might be possible.
Kindness and compassion for others was one of my biggest lessons after experiencing a oneness with others during my NDE, and I especially enjoyed the descriptions in the book when the author bestowed great kindness upon those around her. I know the author’s soul is greatly blessed by those moments when she helps others, and I thank her for bringing more attention to near-death experiences.