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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

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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, ┬áso 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.

scorched

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i just returned from Chiang Mai, Thailand. it was a 5 day trip with my parents. considerably shorter than the 10 days we had booked for, when i first arranged for my spiritual retreat. in the days leading up to the trip, i was still bitter that i was rejected for an agreed upon retreat, because i was forthcoming with my depression. the people around me, friends who are Catholic, tried to comfort me by telling me that perhaps this was not the time for me to spend so much time in silence alone with God. i was also frustrated at the fickleness of my parents and their insistence that we did not set an itinerary. the thought of spending 24/7 with my parents, sharing even a hotel room, scared the shit out of me. i didn’t think i could deal with it. so before we flew, yes i was literally going crazy.

we enjoyed Chiang Mai, except for the scorching heat and rowdy tourists. dad and i would bicker, and he threw his usual “tantrums” several times. but whatever it was, i knew i could i look forward to a zip line adventure that i had booked much earlier. one which i could go for without my parents. i had an amazing time zipping through over 10 lines. the longest we had was a 700m line and that was fucking amazing. i felt so free then, although admittedly the physical aspect of hiking really challenged my poor heart. i also enjoyed good ‘me’ time shopping alone. H&M gave me a sweater that i’d wear with everything. and that never comes that easily.

i had many mixed feelings coming home. i didn’t want to return to the monotony that is my life. i didn’t want to return to somewhere i feel most vulnerable. i didn’t want the control of my parents (but believe me it is worse in Chiang Mai). i didn’t want to have to be in my room where my mind is left to its monsters.

but alas. home it is. therapy the day after i arrived home. and school the next (which is today). many things distress me now.

i’ll just leave things here for now.

 

i will not settle

in the past 5 years, many people have told me what i cannot do, many of them have this tendency to decide what should be done to me, and many liked to point out my shortcomings, even though it is glaring that i am aware of it myself. i am turning 26 this year, and it still goes on. i have given in, caved in, due to the pressure given, and the insistence that they know better.

i have let people disparage me, decide that i should stop work, and tell me that i am unfit to work although i have been cleared by my doctor. i have let people bring me down, and oh i let them do so, and others have given me grief for doing so as well. i have been told i cannot do this or that, because my depression renders me “weak” and a “liability”. i have let people lock me up, making damn well use of the Mental Health Act. i have allowed people to tell me in my face “why are you still like that?”, and tell me the precedent of my depression doesn’t seem to warrant such a long and severe bout of depression.

i am asked sometimes why i have such a low self-esteem. i tell them that it has been low all the while, but in the past 5 years, i have been trampled on time and again by people. and it has been a very vulnerable period for me. so tell me again. why am i down, and why is my self-esteem so low? why is my recovery process so slow? why am i the way i am

most times i let them get to me, because i believe them while being extremely vulnerable. but was there ever any basis for such words? oh no, i don’t think so. the only basis is that of stereotype. depression just seems like such a vulgar word that it doesn’t call for any empathy. and it seems rather apparent that tearing a person with depression apart is pretty apt.

after my discharge on Friday and finding myself fighting to not go inpatient again, i realised that i have found some strength in me to defy what people like to condemn me with. perhaps a part of me is tired of just going with the flow. or maybe i’m just filled to the brim with all these disparaging.

i simply will not settle, from today onwards. i will fight, and i will damn well talk them down, if they were to even begin to mutter a word about me. and for those who have already done damage (95% of them don’t even know that they’ve trampled on me), God bless you, and i don’t have the space in my life to accommodate you.