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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.

 

 

 

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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!

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.