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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!

stronghold

Image result for the lord is my stronghold

each morning, i wake up to a mood that usually dictates how the rest of my day goes. it usually isn’t a good one. and while i sigh, resigned to the day my mood has already condemned, i forget there is a greater Being in my life in the midst of it all.

He is my stronghold.

i sobbed in therapy last Wednesday, and asked rhetorically if i would ever see the light again. i was reminded gently by my Catholic psychotherapist, that recovery is about growth. that it’s a journey, not a destination. in my own true fashion, i retorted that it’s been so long. would i ever live to see the light?

the disordered mind rages and talks, asserting itself, while the heart aches. i feel too deeply what my mind thinks, and i can’t seem to help it. the mind never ceases to demand that i should despair. that i should go, when it finally gets too much. but the heart keeps fighting. fighting to cling onto Him, fighting to stay, fighting to tell the mind that i just need to hold on and trust. that i will surely see the light, if only i gave it more time.

back then in a matter of years, my doctor told my parents to be “mentally prepared”. i was dying then. and i was dying of sadness, of utter despair. i don’t think i know though, if i ever got better from that state of being. the mind still asserts that it is easier to go, while the heart fights and clings on tightly to the One.

i may despair or rejoice from day to day, or feel nothing at all. the pain from the despair might feel so visceral, and the tears may fall. everyday is a struggle to hold on, and i still don’t have the confidence to say that i will live to see the light.

but the Lord is my stronghold. what do i have to fear?

i will continue to trudge on, and i will continue to give thanks to Him for all that He has given to me. my heart will keep fighting to live, even if my mind says no.

 

yet another inpatient stay is over. i survived. it was a result of being impulsive. i acted on my emotions, rather than on logic. very regrettable. i’ve finished my 63rd ECT today. i finished off the cycle of 6 that i started the last admission, but didn’t finish.

it’s been extremely trying, being away from home. i clung on so tight to my faith, praying the rosary when i can. being inpatient always allows me time to think about things. about the things i think and act upon. it is no secret that i have very maladaptive coping skills. i’ve always though about how i should cope. the right way. yet i have no answers, even though i am extremely aware of what’s right and wrong.

the ECTs have helped, but they are not the solution. much of the work still lies in me. i have to stop wanting the pain, stop wanting the blood, stop wanting to hurt. but because it’s been my life for 6 years, these need time to change.

my confessor has been extremely edifying. he anointed me with the oils for the sick. the first time it’s been done all these years being sick. it’s God-given, and i treasure it very much. my community- Sinners- have supported me a lot too, and i am extremely grateful. i’ve been extremely blessed in this manner.

i hope there won’t be anymore inpatient stays, but that is unrealistic. i just hope there are greater intervals between stays. that i don’t have to rely on inpatient stays to keep me safe. i have to stop wanting to terminate the pain. pain is part of life, and i have to learn to cope or live with it it.

back to life. and back to reality, where the real seems so unreal. where reality is tougher than being undead.

 

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.

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.