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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!

going into the New Year…

i apologise for the lack of updates. it’s been rather mad since the last time i posted.

i’ve fought continuously against the deep anguish and pain within me since Christmas, making a decision to repair my arm which i’ve cut up, then keeping myself safe for awhile. i managed to leave the hospital to spend New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day with my family and friends. but till today i still wonder if i should have left the hospital. i was still drowning, and nothing was making it go away.

i attended a 5-day retreat in the first week of January. this retreat has been purported by most to be extremely life-changing. and although i went into it rather apathetically, i held high expectations. instead the first 3 days were a complete nightmare. i had strong urges to hurt myself. i had strong urges to fly. i was most atrociously physically violated (sexually too if you asked me) during praise and worship. of all 15 confessors, i was assigned to the priest who hurt me deeply (which led to a 3rd degree burn that had to be grafted; but i’ve forgiven him already) 1.5 years ago. i wanted to pack my bags and walk out of the retreat every single moment of the first 3 days. but i thank God for His love and grace, for sustaining me through each and every moment. i was also blessed that a brother from my community journeyed with me. the next 2 days were better, although i remained in the shadows of the “trauma” from the first 3 days. i encountered God and the Holy Spirit during the praying over and outpouring.

to be honest, i felt like God has washed me clean of my sins. it felt like He reached for my hardened heart, softened it, and emptied out my heart of all the pain it carried. it felt like i was going to be starting on a clean slate. tabula rasa. Mother Mary also appeared to me (incidentally i was standing in front of the Mother’s statue during the praying over) after i had fallen. She had reminded me of her fiat– the fiat that kept appearing to me since last year. her Magnificat also resounded in my head. to me, there was no doubt that all these experiences lead me to the very heart of Jesus and Mary. ending the retreat, i came out of it more confident in God’s mercy, and more convicted to the obedience that Mother Mary displayed. it was not a surprised that during the last talk by our Archbishop led me to this bible verse:

I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. -John 14:18

coming across this verse, i was even more assured that i could trust in God in my worst times- times which would have me extremely despaired and anguished. this, together with my encounter, would become my anchor for which i would hold on to. going back to the real world would mean that i would be continuously challenged and tested. and i felt extremely blessed that even though the retreat wasn’t as life-changing as it was purported to be, i came out of it with this anchor. this knowledge and this trust that i have in God.


so for the past 1.5 weeks (post-retreat till today), i struggled very much physically. i’ve been extremely fatigue, and despite so, insomniac. out of the 11 days, i’ve left the house only about 4 times? my head constantly hurts. my entire back hurts. i’ve had repeated bouts of nausea and/or vomiting. i’ve spent hours and hours horizontal on my sofa. i’ve indulged in so much caffeine but it doesn’t work. it frustrates me because i don’t know where this fatigue is coming from. RA, fibromyalgia, and depression all cause fatigue/lethargy. i feel like if i knew which was the source, i could better manage it. but who am i kidding?

and so i will continue and take each day as it comes. i’m not in the best of moods, i’ve been rather cranky, i’m perpetually tired, but eventually one of these will give. i will leave you with a part of a prayer a community friend said for me on the 3rd night of the retreat (it’s slightly reworded because my failing memory can’t remember the exact words):

“every moment is a new creation in Your hands…”

it’s short, yet it holds an extremely beautiful meaning, and encompasses so much hope!

with every breath

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it has been a tough many weeks for me.

i spent the entire time holding on to my faith for my dear life.i feared that had i let go even a little, i’d completely lose myself or my life. it was not a time to compromise.

i had gone for a surgery, and then transferred to a psychiatric hospital/ward. i was quite sick i suppose. because even 8 electroconvulsive therapy(ECT) sessions didn’t make me better. i was discharged by a doctor whose clinical judgement is extremely lacking.

what happened next was a disaster. i ended up in the hospital’s high-dependency ward, clinging onto my life. at my worst i was only breathing a mere 4 breaths a minute. when i was better, i was yet again transferred to the psychiatric hospital/ward. i tried to make it all go away again with ECTs to no avail.

till date, i’ve done 56 ECTs in my life, and my memory is failing fast and furious.

meltdowns i had plenty during my admissions. be it tears or blood, i could never really hold myself together. and when they asked me what i’d live for, i could not answer them. i’d also a fiery temper, and got into trouble a few times. twice, i fell from a certain height while in the ward. i ended up with a really badly sprained ankle, and many bruises. in these admissions, for the first time, i had to be sedated several times with IM Haloperidol, IM Promethazine or IM Lorazepam.

here i am, discharged once more. i don’t want to go back in there. i don’t belong there. whatever personal crises i’ve had, they are over now.  and because of all of these, i’ve resigned from my job and i’ve deferred my studies. my parents have been telling me that i’ve been too hard on myself.

really? i don’t know. i am only trying my best to exist. every breath i take is every breath loved by my Lord.

 

 

 

 

i wrote this as a stark reminder to myself, that the act of being alive is in and by itself, enough. that in a world that asks of you anything and everything, without pretty much a care, it’s okay to simply breathe.

but i go on to ruminate, ever so often. then everything is for naught.

in Him i seek refuge

sometimes, darkness blankets me, and i stay in it. i know, after 5 years, that depression deems this darkness a good place to dwell in. my faith journey through these all sees me letting in the light- the light of Christ- in the times when hope glimmers. regrettably, darkness triumphs over the light, because i am yet to be in a place where i am more recovered.

since i last wrote, plenty has happened. school being on a break, i’ve been busy with work and serving in a retreat.

i have been blessed to have a change in my job description, where i am no longer a nurse. it was a decision to place my focus on social service, rather than on nursing. my workplace is truly a blessing to be in- all of my colleagues so God-loving, and passionate for our cause. my manager takes it further by being extremely considerate to my wellbeing. for all of these i praise God for His providence!

i was on the intercessory team in the retreat. my prayer life has never been good, nor was it good during intercessions (in my opinion that is). but we experienced for ourselves God working through everyone in the retreat. again, tasting the grace of the Lord has me on my knees.

groping my way around in the dark, i fell and hurt myself badly again. i am ashamed of it, simply because God’s light is there, but in my sadness i refused to let it in. in the end i became the perpetrator and also the victim. i don’t know why i let people’s words get to me, nor do i know why i seek so much healing from physical pain.

reluctantly, at the nagging of my friends, i sought medical attention, and was placed in the hands of trauma surgeons. but i’m fine. i really am. everyone has been overreacting.

i want to let the light in- His light and His glory. light chases out darkness, and in doing so, faith, hope and love comes through easier. everyday is a challenge to choose God, even if it’s not in the ways of the faith. when i choose to be kind to myself, to not hurt myself, to smile, to laugh, to love myself, i am choosing God.

in Him there is no darkness, and in Him i seek refuge.


after edit:

i forgot to mention. remember the last term of school in which i missed 3 weeks out of 5 weeks of lesson due to my hospitalisation? the one in which i spent 1 week writing 2 papers whole juggling school and work? the one which i only took less than a weekend to study for 2 exams?

i checked my results, after almost forgetting that they had been released, and… i scored distinctions for both!!! *phew* this i tell you, is entirely God-given. aside from the extremely tight time frame that i had, i was fighting a terrible war on the depression front at that point of time, and was amnesiac when the exams came. that i could survive, much less work through what little was left of the school term, could never have happened without God’s grace.

 

25

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i’m struggling with my 25th. birthday’s aren’t special anymore (like i’ve said for the past few years). they are a stark reminder of my morbidity and mortality. they make me question my life and my suffering, and for how long more till it everything ends. i seek for the real Steph. the Steph i lost 5 years ago after falling into depression. year after year however, i am more convinced that Steph is gone for good. that the Steph that i am now is the one i have to settle with. and that it will also deteriorate.

in one year i’ve learnt so much about myself and about people. it can be heartening, but more so it makes me disillusioned. i exist with the pure aim of preserving my life. i try to build upon that a life of love and giving, of hope and wanting, and of course growth .

putting back the pieces hasn’t been easy; it’s a sore understatement to say so actually. i’ve tried to learn to accept myself for what i am, and not identify myself for the illnesses i have. i experienced acceptance and rejection in that. more for the latter, rare for the former. i see the kindness and empathy of people, but also the cruelty of reality. i want to see mankind beyond their darker side; there are people who are saving graces, but the rest destroy that ideal of mine. and so you see that as time passes i grow more bitter and disillusioned.

i’ve had to deal with radical changes in my body. weight gain. fibromyalgia. more pain. more medications. i do what i can to cope, but i find myself being unable to. the basis of my suffering with RA first has not been grieved for properly, and simply having to deal with concurrent illnesses and being slapped with new ones, i cannot take it all in. in short i am struggling still, after so many years. i am battered and bruised, i try to be ok with it outwardly, but the dissonance is terrible. in the past year i’ve been more open about the crosses i bear, yet i am clammed up about my pain. i’ve begin to realise that putting up a facade of being well, especially at work, cannot sustain. it is cruel to the self.

recovery for me has a steep curve. from having to hurt myself to none at all. from relying on others (the doctors and hospitals) to save me i’ve begun to save myself. the notion that things can actually get better, that after the rain comes a rainbow, is still  very foreign to me. i dare not be hopeful because things always turn out otherwise. but i’m still learning to do that and yet still be hopeful. how do i do that, i don’t know. i’ve learnt to be gentle to myself. to be loving of myself, of what others cannot give to me. i am now said to be better than i ever was since 2010. but there are still dark clouds lurking, threatening to give thunderstorms and lightning. i am always wary that recovery can be lost to almost anything. it’s in such a precarious state. i never stop wondering how i can hold recovery in my hands, yet not drop it while the rest of my body and mind rebels.

again the aim is self-preservation, and no one can hold  my recovery in their hands. it’s mine to hold and my responsibility to bear.

i have been so blessed however, to be a child of God, a bride of my Lord. experiencing renewal in my faith, and returning to God. i have received so abundantly and so freely, i am loved in spite of my sins and transgressions. what i can say, is that in the last one year, returning to God was the most joyful. because of Him i could live a bit better and love even more. He sustains and heals, and i cannot ask for more.

i’ve been told a many time that i am an inspiration to others, for the things i do although i struggle with my circumstances. i’ve also been told that i am a great nurse. i deny them because i feel i am not worthy and deserving. but i am learning to be accepting of what i am, and the difference i make to others.

i am 25. i’ve lived a quarter of a century. i am shaped constantly by this life i live. and while i hate celebrating birthdays, i must because i am still here. nobody knows if i will get to live till my next birthday. i don’t know what the next one year will hold for me. the possibilities of regression and deterioration are real. however the hope of a better life and healing is always there.

i want to live more and love more. to give selflessly, and not ask. to keep choosing happiness and say no to what brings me down. i want to serve my Lord, and do His will.

Happy Birthday Steph. Stay hungry always.