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again

it’s probably nothing.

but 3 days ago it suddenly dawned upon me like some revelation that something was wrong. the failing memory seemed pathological. my knees have been buckling more. i have been experiencing an odd loss of balance. when pieced together they pointed to the brain as the root cause. i was reminded of last year when i had weakness and numbness in my legs and the neurologists had to rule out Multiple Sclerosis. they did, but my left leg remained weak since. the MRIs of my brain and cervical spine showed suspicious “spots” which the neurologists said could be nothing, but at the same time they also could not be definite about that.

2 days ago, i was due to see my psychiatrist. i asked him about the amnesia- the word finding difficulty and problems with memory recall which happened some time after my last ECT. he said it was uncharacteristic of ECT’s side effects, and he ruled out any possibility that my diagnoses, medications or ECTs were causing such amnesia. he also thought i had a malar rash actually. so he told me to see a neurologist and my rheumy and ask for their opinions. after that, i promptly got a referral and appointment to see a neurologist.

yesterday, within less than 72 hours of figuring things out, i saw the neurologist. he looked into my previous MRIs and agreed with the doctors last year that it didn’t look like MS. he did a full neurological exam, and said that my symptoms are manifesting rather mildly. and i agree, although it still affects my daily life. he noted hyperreflexia (though not to the point it is pathological), coordination problems and limb weakness. however he was most concerned about the memory.

so we are going to repeat the MRI with contrast. honestly, i don’t expect any changes in my brain imaging. i seem to have this propensity to have physical symptoms without proper evidence, as shown with my struggles with my rheumy and my RA over the past 10 years. i struggle, but because there’s no evidence it must not be real. i don’t have any expectations that these issues, especially the amnesia, can be explained and/or treated, even though i am mad desperate because my final exams are in December and i don’t remember shit about any thing i have learnt since April. in a way, i’ve given up. resigned.

so yeah. it’s probably something. but it’s probably nothing at all.

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opened heart



it dawned upon me that my memory has been deteriorating further, because my word-finding difficulty is now at its peak, and my memory recall is terrible despite having some time pass from my last currents. and then… i am reminded that everything that transpires in this long journey from nothingness to recovery has a lasting impact on this temporary body which i abuse pretty much. this was something that i might already have known, but was too defiant to recognise and acknowledge. and alas, this leaves me with some regret.


it’s been 7 years at the brink of hell, i’ve always said i’m on the threshold of giving up, and it never seems to be getting better. what gives? i don’t know. the people around me don’t know what to do. they either stay silent, or comment nonchalantly. why are you still like this?; it’s been so long!; you are like that because your faith is not strong enough (i lost a friend for that because it was totally inappropriate);  huh!!! you cut again ah!!!; what did you do this time??? (must i have done something to be not feeling well or admitted???); aiyah i think you really need a boyfriend (overwhelmingly popular comment); etc.

but at the sidelines have been my family and close friends (NO boyfriend), cheering me on in the ways they know. this however, was hard for me. most of those who loved me didn’t know how to support me, and all i could perceive was silence and isolation. the loneliness i felt all these years, imposed by myself and wrongfully felt was crushing. it took years of therapy and retrospection to realise that my family all had their different ways of expressing their love for me.

i isolated myself nevertheless, and took down the facade i worked hard to maintain once i’m alone. i could trust myself most times, but i can say right up till today, i cannot trust a single person. not even my parents. and it actually aches right in the heart to know that. it is hard to put it in words, but the psyche of a chronically depressed, a bulimic, and a chronically suicidal borderline who severely self-harms, is hard to understand (and that is already discounting the fact that i also cope with RA and fibro at the same time, complicating everything!). and even that is a terribly sore understatement. i spent the last few weeks in much agony (although i had all these 7 years to explore this) trying to accept that maybe, just maybe, i am just one who cannot be grasped with the mind and the heart. or maybe i could tell you everything, but would you be able to take it? *hmm* it was difficult to accept this as i repeatedly spoke to my psychotherapist about this. i’m a borderline. i am needy. i thrive on being understood (or seemingly being understood). even as we tried to rebuild relationships, my parents and i, as we continued family therapy, i had my separate life from them when i’m alone. i couldn’t find the courage to integrate the self which i’ve relied on for 7 years and carried the painful pasts, weaknesses and unforgivable failures, together with the fake and detestable self that is fronted by a facade which was built upon lies and lies and lies, but also successes that felt unmerited (and layers and layers of defense mechanisms). how could i ever tell you, or anyone for that matter, that when i’m with you i am not entirely genuine? how could i ever tell you that my lack of authenticity with you at times might be because say, you were talking and i was listening and nodding my head, but ‘because i felt so dysphoric all i was thinking of was cutting’.  (i’m a terrible person. i know that, and i believe that most times. and perhaps i really do deserve all of these.)

anyhow, at the end, i think the goal is that i’m alive. i don’t necessarily agree with it. but no one can say that i’m not trying. dysphoria, anxiety, triggers and chronic suicidality are a lot of factors to deal with when it come to the causes of my self-harm. and more so when my self-harm has escalated in the last 2-3 years. i’m not proud of it. no no no. but i’m here. i’m still here. although i’m merely existing, until i figure things out and recovery becomes a real possibility. i recognise that life still goes on, so in doing so i’ll make sure i’ll finish my honours degree by December. it is one of those times in these 7 years where i have to tell myself “Steph, you can’t afford to fall during this period. You just can’t.” and there were no buts. because i knew the consequences of falling during crucial periods. you fall, you end up in hospital much to the dismay of your teachers, you end up deferring your module/course/graduation (yes graduation, fuck it), you repeat the module with strangers while you see your friends on social media graduating or progressing on ie. you got left behind, and teachers all start asking what happened to you, or what happened to you, or heaven forbid, things like why are you so fat, why are you so weak etc. and the thing is, i already fell so many times during this school year, and only got out of the hospital a few weeks ago. many rules and sanctions have been placed on me to make sure i’m safe. everything was fixated on my crazies. but i think no one thought to make sure i was a tiny bit happier or pain-free?

i’ve tried. i really have. doctors in the e-rooms always ask me if i’ve gone off my meds, and i wish i have, but i have never gone off my psychiatric meds (so why the crises???). i’ve always found it an insurmountable task processing the sinking sadness of depression, BPD’s ricocheting, instability in affect and interpersonal relationships, neediness, self-mutilation and suicidality, emptiness that can never be filled, the deep ache that is so visceral, the rage, all of it even until today. yet somehow i’ve allowed some of it to take over. may there be a day, like the psychiatrists say, that my symptoms (or BPD) may be ameliorated. Dr G (not my psychotherapist) once told me that borderlines usually take 5-10 years with psychodynamic psychotherapy. i’ve hit 7. i guess 3 more years to truly see if things really get better? (then again, psychiatrists have told me i’m the worst case they’ve ever seen.)

at this point where i am ending this post, i am feeling quite sad and it feels quite visceral. but well, i’m just gonna try to smoke it off.

 

 

 

not alright

and the truth is, try as you might, you will never be alright again.

you feel like you’ve died inside, although you know you’ve died a thousand times. not again? you ask. but again you know you’ll die a thousand more.

you’ll never be alright again, against everything people around you hope for you, pray for you, or tell you. they don’t have the foggiest idea.

so why are you trying so hard to hold on?

27

IMG_3952 (1)

yet another year has passed. and looking back, i don’t know where those days have gone. every birthday is a heartache, if i am to be truly honest. looking back, dwelling in the present, looking to the future, it pains me greatly that my existence has been maintained till today. i know that that is the depression talking. that a life in Christ is so much more. that a life in Christ is filled with love. the past year was spent with at least 14 crises. there never was any semblance of stability, and the struggle was painfully constant.

in the here and now, i dare not hope. what is the state of my life now that will change anything? absolutely nothing. so why set myself up for disappointment and heartache?

happy birthday steph.
may you find the courage to do what you need to do to go on.

dei gratia


by the grace of God (latin)

God doesn’t necessarily gives us what we want. He gives us what we need.

in the same vein, thinking for years that i needed answers to heal? i couldn’t be more wrong. i always wondered why i couldn’t find the healing that eluded me. i believed that if i had answers, i could heal. but to be completely honest, i already have the answers. but answers don’t magically make everything go away.

going to the retreat in early January, not knowing much of what i wanted out of the retreat except that i wanted healing (by default that is always what i want out of a retreat), i left feeling rather unchanged. i didn’t “feel” like i was healed. but then again, what does it feel like to be healed? i felt underwhelmed. but as days go by, it became more evident that God’s grace was working in me. i was more joyful, less melancholic. i was able to cooperate with His grace. i am even more than 2 months cut-free! ah, such grace! also, God’s grace working inside of me though intangible, was even witnessed by my community!

this grace He gives was what i needed. it was a long time coming, but we live in God’s time!

never letting go


(can’t draw to save my life, but this will have to do???)

in the flurry of school assignments, examinations, serving in a retreat and nursing an infected wound, i forgot about what it means to be a child of God, and how loved i truly am.

yesterday, i had a proper chance to sit in the adoration room and talk with God. no distractions, nothing. just me, my rosary, and God. after lamenting about being tried with spiritual attacks during intercessory sessions and Mass, i found it in me to still thank God for what He has given me. the very reason why i would be attacked would be because of how much i could offer up to God. and without a fight, i wouldn’t even be able to recognise the “gifts” in my crosses and my vulnerability. so although i despaired, God consoled me with these revelations. it was like a good warm hug He gave! do i still want to give up serving in intercessory teams, as i thought of right after the retreat? not anymore.

i went back to thank God for all He has done for me, as i always do when i talk with Him. this was when i started crying myself silly. thinking back, it’s been a whole 2312 days. and although i am fighting the odds everyday- fighting the instincts to hurt, the instincts to die- and i am always pessimistic, God sustains me. it’s easy to take it for granted, but with each night that falls, and with each dawn that breaks, it is a victory in God’s name. this is unmerited, and i continue to marvel at His grace and mercy, His tireless embrace, His favour that is forever. for 2312 days He has held my hand, even when i want to pull away, and even when i turn my back against Him. He picks me up with His strength when i fall and tells me “it’s ok, my dear child. let’s try again.”. when i simply can’t do anymore, when i’m too tired, too weak, He lifts me up. He never lets me stay fallen. He never lets me lay fallen on the ground, wallowing.

i could never have done it by myself for these 2312 days. sure, they weren’t all good. some were terrible in fact. but i know God has been with me through it all. He was beside me as i winced in pain and blood flowed. He was beside me as i lay sprawled on the toilet floor desanguinating. He was beside me as i took pills too many. He was beside me as my flesh charred. He was with me as i drove a knife into me. He was with as i drove a needles and a syringe into my veins. it did not hurt anyone more than it hurt God. but still He was unrelenting, never letting go of my hand. He was there with my hospital admissions. He was there for all 63 times they passed the currents through my head. He was there for all my surgeries. and most of all He was there for each and every time words (from others) hit me like a dagger, and held me up as i crumbled. for whatever pain i was in, the pain God felt must’ve magnified exponentially. and for that it is truly regrettable.

He is a loving God. and that is undeniable. i may suffer physically with RA and fibromyalgia. i may suffer mentally from intractable depression and bulimia. but these are the crosses i have been given to bear. these too are the very sufferings i endure which i can offer up to God. He gives me these crosses yes, but He doesn’t let me go through them all alone. what a good Lord He is!

i went for evening mass after, the day’s Gospel was about the Annunciation. i have always loved the Annunciation and everything it stands for, especially Mother Mary’s fiat. when Father talked about what Mother Mary said (“I am the handmaid of the Lord”-Lk 1:38), he talked about how this was a call for us too- “I am a servant of the Lord!”. upon hearing that my eyes widened. it hit me hard, after all that i’ve gone through with the despair of being spiritually attacked, knowing i was vulnerable because of my “sufferings”, then still thanking God for my crosses and for sustaining me… it felt like the fiat was never a one-off thing. instead it was a continuous journey to say yes to God, even if i doubted or feared. all we need is to trust in His will- His ways are not our ways! and if God calls me to suffer, to offer up my sufferings in prayer, i will say yes!!!

it’s not easy, but there is joy even in the suffering. because God gives me the grace to endure, to be steadfast, and to hold on to Him. i feel so loved! it really is a kind of love that brings upon an unspeakable joy!

2312 days, and Christ will emerge victorious for many more days!

“for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”-Philippians 1:21

“The Redeemer suffered in place of man and for man. Every man has his own share in the Redemption. Each one is also called to share in that suffering through which the Redemption was accomplished. He is called to share in that suffering through which all human suffering has also been redeemed. In bringing about the Redemption through suffering, Christ has also raised human suffering to the level of the Redemption. Thus each man, in his suffering, can also become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ.”

Salvifici Doloris (Apostolic Letter)
St Pope John Paul II
February 1984

26

i thought i would dread this birthday just as i have in the past few years. but this year proved to be a little different. i think.

many things have changed in the course of the year- from my 25th birthday to the 26th. i’ve gone savage on myself after a year of relative stabilisation. it saw me free-fall from what seemed to be improvement, to nothing at all. it saw me deciding to leave nursing. it saw me venturing into uncharted waters of psychology. it saw me entering a stint in the social service sector. it saw me going into hospital. i was burnt, cut up, bleeding, infected, unconscious. it saw me being stitched up, patched up, fixed, and convulsed. it saw me fighting to stay, surrendering against my conscious desires to go,  so that i could be saved. it saw me stand up again and again, despite the torment and anguish that haunted me. it saw me cry in desperate despair, in hopelessness and helplessness. it saw me being judged as “too far gone”, as “too difficult to manage”. but i guess like all other times, being broken was being human. i may have been shattered into smithereens, but i can still be put back together.

perhaps i’ve listened too many times, to the Les Miserables soundtrack. what always stands out to me is a part of a verse in the Epilogue:

“even the darkest night will end
and the sun will rise”

it is indeed very simple, but it’s taken me a long time to come to appreciate it. with each dawn is a new beginning. it wipes the slate clean. what was last night’s, is past. i spent more than half the nights of the year wishing i wouldn’t see the light of day again. but no matter the state of mind when i fall asleep, dawn comes unfailingly. i’ve come to accept that with God, i can hope even when hope is gone, that He will give me the strength to carry on. faith, hope, love and joy triumphs. and although there will be more despair than all of that, i can try again at each sunrise, and with it can carry on.

it’s rather simplistic, but it is precisely that that this is important. i’ve been pushing it so far i couldn’t see what’s right in front of me.

i will keep trying. and i will be gentle to myself. i know that i will still fall. i know that it’ll be a tough ride. i know that i still have a long way to go. but i will hope in the Lord and in each dawn.

Happy Birthday Steph. stay hungry always.