Tag Archive | quote

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

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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.

 

still trying

at the dawn of my depression, my younger sister once told me that “when you’ve hit rock bottom, the only way is up”. wise words which i tried to believe in, but up was never where i went. rock bottom became my “normal”, and everything else ran on well, what else? negative.

dad reminds me that today marks 7 days out in the wild. i’ve begun to appreciate being “out in the wild” since the days of lengthy hospital stays because of my depression. he and mum got me a gift, sorta like a pat on the back, for staying out this long. the last time i was out, i didn’t make it past 4 days (i’ve had worse though). this act, together with going for confession (after months of procrastinating), begs me to rethink things. rethink life.

to be honest, it’s really much easier to slip than one could ever imagine. and for several years battling depression without so much as my faith in God, i butchered myself. hard. i only had extrinsic motivations to stay “well” and out in the wild, and never intrinsic ones. i truly believed i deserved everything i lashed upon myself. even worse, i thought it insufficient. for awhile things seemed to get “better”, and there was once i passed 500 days without a single admission. that was something i celebrated. but could you imagine? i was actually celebrating a freedom which has been given to most people so freely. it didn’t feel like living. it felt like existing. while i counted my days out in the wild, i tried my utmost to not have to reset my count on my days free from self-harm. of course i never really succeeded in that. i failed so badly keeping the body that God has so lovingly given to me, safe and intact.

i know that plenty disagree with my self-harming ways, and i’ve soured or lost friendships because of this matter. but if one could just try to not think so hard about why i do it, just understand that self-harm has allowed me to still exist. in person (and online). because otherwise, i wouldn’t. i would be long gone. it’s so effing twisted, but this is what it is.

i ask myself why the past year has been so particularly bad, especially with self-harm. i ask myself why this is happening despite my encounter with God a year ago in Treasure 3. i have no concrete answers, except that with each episode i was triggered. and triggers to me, are the usual reasons why i hurt myself, go into crisis, and/or get admitted. i previously wrote that the past one year has been bad, but right now, after 2 psychiatric admissions and whatever that transpired during this period, this past year has been even worse. it’s been such a nightmare, i don’t even dare to hope that the coming year will be any better.

recovery still eludes me, i think. but i continue to ask our loving and merciful God to give me the strength and courage to continue to trudge on. i ask Him to help me to keep my ways straight, that i don’t turn my back on Him and go savage on the self once more and again. i know i can never do this alone, and i thank God that more than ever dadmum are trying to stand by me. the girl who has been so fiercely independent since she was even just 7 years old, is now trying to let go and depend on dadmum and God. everyday i that i live and breathe, is a decision i make to continue to live this life that has been given to me. it’s a conscious decision that i have to make. and i guess that with depression, learning to want to live again and stay safe and intact, is a huge part of attempting recovery.

 

the will of God will not take us where the grace of God cannot sustain us.

-Billy Graham

 

Providence 

it’s been a crazy week- it was one which i could not see myself getting through when the week first started. the dysphoria i experienced shackled me in chains and threatened to pull me under. i flailed my arms and thrashed them around wildly. i was going under, and there was nothing to stop it from happening.

the outpouring of support in the midst of my despair, both online and in person, was something that lifted me up, and it’s also something that i am grateful for. i don’t think i could have lived past this week as safely as i did.

more than ever, His providence was more than i deserved. those waters i was sinking in became the waters in which He worked his graces and blessings. i don’t know what pushed me to pray when anxiety set in at every living and breathing moment, but praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy every morning as i start my day, though seemingly a mere routine, became my refuge. i grew increasingly aware time and again that we walk by faith and not by sight. 

when i could walk no further, it is You who takes up my cross, holds my hand and tells me, “come follow me”. i fall on my knees at Your unfailing love, Your abounding grace, and Your divine mercy. i don’t know what i’ve done to merit this grace, but i know You never fail.

looking at matters, i know i will trip and fall again (and again). but i know also that when i do, He’ll stretch out His hand and tell me “it’s ok”.

 

what sparkle?

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i have always believed that I have stayed true to myself. that despite criticisms and disagreements with who i am, i remain unchanged. but being reminded of this saying however, perhaps “my sparkle” has long been dulled. this realisation upsets me, because i take pride with who and what i am.

i feel extremely helpless when i overwhelmed with what i think is avolition. i lack the motivation to engage in meaningful activities, to leave the house at all, maintain relationships, and basically self-care. i guess i might have ‘”switched off” up in my head, because it’s just too exhausting to care. i can’t seem to wrap my mind around all these- i am lacking, yet it is too much.

“my sparkle” took a hard grinding. i’ve fought and struggled for a long time that i am exhausted. it has come to the point where i ask myself if it is worth it. do i cling on to everything that i am despite the exhaustion? or do i give it up to retain some semblance of sanity? i believed this is something that i’ve struggled with for a long time, and what i am now is me caving in and begging for some peace of mind.

if anything, i hope this bit of avolition is part of this refractory depression that constantly eats at me. that “my sparkle” will return one day, and that it’ll shine so bright. i am reminded that out of the darkness comes hope and salvation. sp let me never stop hoping that i’ll see the light again.

loving and learning


aup10
photo credit: Lawrence Lim

as of now, i’ve only been SUP-ing for about 2 over months. and i’m glad to say that today, i was fortunate enough to take part in a SUP race! i joined the fun boards category, because my board of choice was only 10-feet, and also really because i didn’t think i can push myself further than 2km.

by God’s grace i was granted an off day today, so for that i am thankful.

out of the day came plenty of insights. i had my monsters, and i had my saving grace. i had terribly weak flesh, and i had some perseverance. but i think most of all, i tried to outdo myself today, which i did! and for that i feel utterly blessed.

i completed my 2km race with sluggish performance. i will not find excuses. i did not hydrate myself adequately, nor did i have a good breakfast. i did not want to compromise of all things, my heart, when i felt my chest heaving in a painful and odd way, and when i was dizzy. i basically did my 2nd km kneeling down although i had a freshly scrapped knee.

i was quite downtrodden when i carried my board off the water and onto land. 2nd last! oh my gosh! my monsters came out. i’m a competitive person by nature, and although i know sports will never be my thing, 2nd last wasn’t good enough for me. but though i had friends around me on the spot, they saw my FB post and the words “sluggish performance”, and J was very encouraging. it is true that all that really matters is that i completed it and i had fun!

later on, after the race was officially over, i told R i wanted to rent the board again for an hour just for a leisure paddle. i took my favourite board out, paddling leisurely with my water bottle and my handphone playing soundtracks, the hour passed quickly. in that hour i paddled about 2.8km, which is the furthest i’ve paddled (and recorded by GPS) at a go. i was surprised that i wasn’t tired. it is mind-blowing what a mindset can do. i said i was just gonna paddle to enjoy- i did, and i even surpassed myself.

so today i paddled 5km+ and walked 2km+ (to and from the beach), which is the most workout i’ve done in donkey years. (i’m not am ‘exercise’ person to begin with, and since i retired from ballet due to RA, then fell into depression, i have been severely deconditioned from hospital stays that stretched as long as 4-6 months.) i even managed to go get a prescription after that, go home, change and then go to church!

for 5 years i’ve been nagged at to pick up a sport or something i like. because of the severe depression i never got to do so. finally being able to pick up both a sport and something i like is God’s grace to me. when my treatment team told me that it would help with my mood i never believed them. that is, until i tried it. after today i learn even more about myself and how i have to find a balance between SUP-ing as something i love and as something competitive- something i was not able to do with ballet although i loved it so very much, because no matter how, then, there was an unhealthy element to it.

my SUP instructor and friend R, who also organised the race, left this comment on my FB after my photo post about the race, and i really liked it. it inspires me so much!:

Way to go, Stephanie. SUP is not only about racing, it’s about uniting souls from all corners of the world towards a common goal. It’s about pushing through your boundary, setting new ones or banish them all. The horizons are as far as you can see and paddle. Chase the rainbow at the end of it. YOUR own Rainbow! Enjoy walking on water, every single time. Jesus first walked on water, we just follow.

You did Awesome, finishing the race! Proud of you! Once stretched, you’re never the same Stephanie again.

i am just so happy right now, i can’t wait for my next off day to go for a class with R, or just go for a leisurely paddle.

i’m a little lazy to post photos here because they are all on FB. i have only a few taken myself, and the rest are by the photographers. i’ll find a way next time? this is my procrastinating again.

Rx for a Nurse

image

I’ve been at work for 2 weeks, and it’s only been 2 weeks. I’m tired. So very tired.

I don’t really mean it in a physical way- of course I get bogged down by my aches, pains and flares. But that is really nothing compared to the challenges I face emotionally and mentally.

I’m an experienced registered nurse, although the true extent, no one really knows. People, even myself, have to find it out themselves. Like the usual rite of passage, I am doing the job of an assistant nurse first to understand and get used to the ground work. Nothing unusual. But when they threw me in the deep blue sea, I knew I was going to struggle.

There was little guidance, and most times I was left to figure things out myself. I learnt things the hard way- asking and then getting scolded, or making mistakes and being berated. The learning curve of what was not my job scope was steep, and colleagues were sometimes unkind. When I helped with procedures per say, which would take up 30-45 minutes at least, I only asked ONE question about the finishing bandaging, and bam! I got rained upon. Sigh.

Of course I have colleagues who are kind and teach me freely. They trust me with procedures which I should know but by “protocol” should be supervised. They let me assist in procedures. They listen to my opinions of my nursing assessment of a patient and initiate proper interventions.

I won’t speak about personalities of colleagues, because there’s just too much that irk me. But what gets my goat really is that when you’re at work, be professional. If you’re working in a pair, don’t completely forget (and abandon/strand) about your colleague. If you like being as asshole, but I talk to you and treat you with respect, I expect reciprocal respect as well.

Everyday at work, I find myself slumped, tired and frustrated. People will disappoint yes. That has always been true. But I wished people wouldn’t stop me from being a good nurse. Maybe I’m being slighted- incompetent, too much a threat. I don’t know!

All I know is that I come to work everyday, wanting to care for my patients, and instead I deal with shit from colleagues. I hold onto my calling dearly, and let the love for and from my patients sustain me. But sometimes it’s really not enough.

I pray to the Lord to help me with these struggles which seem so insignificant compared to God’s great love and the extensive work He does. I prayed over Palm Sunday in church till I wept, because I care too much about nursing which God called me to do.

But you know today, it got so bad, I just wanted to SCREAM.

Sigh. It’s the Holy Week. By the way, I started a blog to chronicle my journey since I returned home to God after the Treasure retreat. I’ll share it soon.

In the name of Jesus Christ, who was never in a hurry, we pray, O God, that You will slow us down , for we know that we live too fast.