The first step is simple, acceptance. I was like you. Sick for many years, both physically and emotionally but especially emotionally. Then I realized what I am. It just clicked one day and made so much sense. It seemed like overnight I started to feel better. It was like flipping a switch inside. Just knowing and believing was enough to change everything. In a matter of months I went from depressed and suicidal, on four different psych meds including an antipsychotic, to off my meds completely and the happiest I have ever been in my life because I know now that I am not broken like I have always been told. Everything I have always felt had a reason and I understand it now. It is a gift and you can learn to grow and control it. It takes a little time but it isn't hard. Especially with a little help, which I didn't have, but you do. So don't worry. You will get there. Just accept and believe.
Welcome to EC Beth. Finding us is a good first step. I would take some time to explore the site and groups. Also check out the Empath Survival Guide in the links at the top of the page there are helpful tips in there to get you started. I do hope you find what you are looking for.