QFTD: (Quote for the day) Depression is a choice. QFTD: (Question for the day) Is this true?
A photo of a rose from the convent’s garden made into a card and two words that I still keep as a transcript of sincerity.
To know someone cares was good enough to fight for my life.
Do not give us advice.
Do not tell us what to do.
The most important thing is:
Listen to us.
Let our voice be heard.
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I have a mental illness, and I am fine. Me Too conversations event is designed to help shatter stigma surrounding mental illness through sharing and listening to stories.
“Don’t kill it.”
She was startled by what I said when I exclaimed to one of the walkers at the Camino trying to take a bug out of my neck.
“It’s only a ladybug.”
“Still, please don’t kill it and give it to me.”
She gently picked it up and placed it on my arm.
With a sigh of relief that it is safe, I brought it to the nearest bush, let it settle on one of the leaves and whispered have a good life.
It was warm fall weather, and I was on my way for a vacation to Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico. I should be thrilled in going for a week-long all exclusive holiday, but I wasn’t. Depression was taking hold of me at the time.
I didn’t want to go. There was a foreboding feeling that should I go, I will not return. Another thought that comes and goes that life is not worth living when depression arises.
“Give me one reason to live?”
I was talking to the statutes on my altar. They are the statues of Mother Mary, a crucified Jesus Christ on the cross, the saints, and angels. Can they hear me? I doubt that they can. They are just statues.
It was a moment of madness.
Over and over again, I repeated: “Give me one reason to live!”
Tears are flooding my eyes, everything looked obscure. As my eyes were wandering all over my bedroom, I saw a small red dot just above the curtain wall.
Curiosity took hold of me and went close to check what it was. When I came closer, it became clearer that it was a ladybug.
Instinctively, I tried to pick it up to release it outside. However, it flew away, and I lost sight of it.
I searched the walls, the curtains, the ceilings, the floor, the bed, behind the door of my bedroom for the ladybug and for the life of me I cannot find it.
“Where are you ladybug?”
“You cannot stay here.”
“ You will die here.”
“There is no life for you here.”
“You need to show yourself.”
On and on I talked to the ladybug. It felt a long time searching for it, and I became aware of the time that I need to leave the apartment otherwise I will miss my plane for Mexico.
Imploring to the ladybug, I beg: “Please come out. I have a plane to catch.”
As I said this, my eyesight cleared up from crying and saw the ladybug in the far corner of the west wall of the ceiling.
Finally, I caught the ladybug, placed it in between the palms of my hands so it won’t escape, went to the balcony, opened my hands and gave a soft blow of air from my lips to give it a nudge to fly. And it flew. Free, the ladybug is now free.
In Nuevo Vallarta, a new door opened up to a different meaning of living a life.
There I experienced other forms of life: releasing a bucket full of baby sea turtles into the vast ocean, talking to the iguanas and lizard, watching the sunset, walking barefoot on the sandy shores, tasting the saltiness of the sea, feeling the warm rain on my skin, horseback riding along the Andes Fault and visiting some ruins.
Coming home, my disposition in life is a bit brighter. Depression still exists, but I don’t find it overwhelming.
When life becomes unbearable, I think of the ladybug. A Godsend. I firmly believe in the God of small things. Life grows into a series of little things in faith of gratitude. The possibility is due to a single ladybug.
The power of one.
To find a light streaming through a hole on a door
in a dark room made my outlook brighter.
In the threshold of my thoughts that gives me a
glimpse of hope that life will be bearable
in between these spaces lie a threshold
a passage that will open a door of transformation.
The awareness of the light,
I am grateful for the threshold
for without it, there is no possibility to know
that there is a brighter life behind this door.
I consider it as a gift and a blessing. I am more appreciative of life and to look at in both sides.
What do you think of depression or any so called “mental illness”?
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, or you wouldn’t have come here.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) has three components thoughts, behaviour and emotions arranged in a triangle. These are important factors in personal change. The three sides represent the three aspects of my lives. When one side of the triangle changes the rest also change. When I change my way of thinking, I will act and feel according to my thoughts. When I change my emotions, my actions and thoughts will change. When I change the way I do things, then my thoughts and emotions will alter.
Sounds easy, right? Not really. In order for me to understand the psychology of CBT, I thought of three words that is the driving force of my whole being. These are faith, hope and charity. Drawing the same triangle, I came up with this.
Then I incorporated the whole thing based on what works for me to get better. I called this new and improved diagram the Theology of CBT.
Of course, this is just for me doodling my way through a ten-week CBT course.
When CBT first came out in Vancouver, I was one of the guinea pigs. I volunteered to be one of the subjects. It helped me tremendously as well as the Faculty of Psychiatry. Of course, familiarity breeds contempt. I thought I got it all made and don’t need to carry on with the “experiment” to myself. Soon, I fell out of practice and old habits returned; automatic thoughts.
Automatic thoughts are similar to a movie; a constant rewind of a scenario mostly negative. I counted how many times an automatic thought came up in a given minute. There are 60 seconds in a minute, I must have thought of it 100 times.
I took the course the second time around two years ago and the modules have much improved as well as the therapists. The therapists are better trained, the doctors are well versed with the course and there are more participants. I speak highly of this course for anyone who needs to “get” a hold of their own well-being.
I never called this disease as “mental” disorder. I vehemently argue about this terminology. I know it is a disease of the brain and I waited a long time for someone to speak about this until I heard in TED “Understanding of mental illness.” This is a big relief for me.
Going deeper to doodling, a new diagram arose based on my love for trees and gardening. This keeps me grounded.
Finally with all these knowledge and training, I realize that medication tremendously helps. There’s nothing wrong with taking medication. Insulin is for diabetics to control the disease taken for the rest of their life. No stigma on that. Antidepressants work well for my brain to balance the serotonin level taken for the rest of my life so I may live to the fullest. Nothing wrong with that!
Someone told me to read the lives of the saints to help me in times of dark night of the soul. Not just the saints but as well as people who had the courage to come back. These are ordinary people who managed to crawl out of their darkness with the help of others and divine intervention.
She was born in Sudan in 1869, kidnapped by Arab slave trades at age seven, sold and resold, suffered much trauma, abuse and brutality during her captivity that caused her to forget her own name. She was named Bakhita, meaning “the lucky one”. Life as a slave terrified her.Forgiveness:
“If I were to meet the slave merchants who kidnapped me, and even those who tortured me, I would kneel and kiss their hands. If what happened to me had never taken place, how could I have become a Christian and a religious?”
Eventually, in 1883 an Italian consul bought her, treated her kindly in his household, took her to Italy and was given as present to a wife of friend. When the new owner left for Africa to attend to business matters, she gave the Canossian Sisters of Venice custody of Bakhita. Here she found out that she is a free person and remained with the Sisters, became a nun and known as the “Black Mother.”
Bakhita, what a life story she had at a tender age. How does one get over the abuse she received as a child? With the help of others that cared about her and discovered that she has a new Master, her God, she recovered.
During the millennium year 2000, Pope Paul II canonized Josephine Bakhita.
Sometimes it can be difficult to be thankful when you feel miserable. That misery usually becomes worse when well meaning people remind you of what you should be thankful for. So, let me offer a prayer of gratitude for all who struggle with depression, or any other mental or emotional condition.
- Thank you for giving me the courage to get up and face another day, and the stamina to work for health.
- Thank you for holding me close when I have wanted to end my life, and for holding others who did die from depression, bipolar, or schizophrenia.
- Thank you also for understanding when I couldn’t get myself out of bed to go to mass or feared confession because the very thought of facing my sins only made me feel more unworthy of love.
- Thank you for providing the ability to hold up my head when people judged me, gossiped about me, or backed away during the times I became ill. Likewise, for granting me patience and understanding when those who saw me at my worst could not accept my health and so treated me as if I were still “fragile.”
- Thank you for teaching me how to carry my cross for love of you, focusing on you rather than my specific pains. I know I don’t do that perfectly but you don’t care and for that I am most grateful.
- Thank you for modern medicine, competent therapists and spiritual directors, understanding clergy, and Saints who had mental health difficulties. These can bolster my hope, lessen my sense of isolation, and even make me healthier.
- Thank you especially for those moments, days, and sometimes months of remission when joy and a clear mind return. These are a foretaste of what heaven will be like after I have finished fighting the good fight in faith and hope.
- Most of all thank you for accepting the offering of my imperfect, broken, and sick self at mass and responding by feeding and strengthening my soul with the Eucharist.
For all these things I thank you. Amen.
When you feel as if you are in a deep darkness because of doubt, fear, illness, or depression, rather than try to desperately climb out perhaps it would be better to “walk in the dark.” Often when we try too hard we only get more discouraged and if we go with the flow while we try, we slowly feel better.
We can be attached to our pursuit of happiness and health to the point of forgetting we are human. We can expect ourselves, our doctors, therapists, spiritual directors, and priests to completely heal us, as if they were god. Pursuing health and happiness are good but need to be kept in balance. If we pine for them too much, we ignore the fact that only God can fully heal us and bring us lasting happiness.
When you feel overwhelmed by life’s difficulties St. John of the Cross advises:
“If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.”
“In tribulation immediately draw near to God with confidence, and you will receive strength, enlightenment, and instruction.”
“The soul that is attached to anything however much good there may be in it will not arrive at the liberty of divine union. For whether it be a strong wire rope or a slender and delicate thread that holds the bird, it matters not, if it really holds it fast; for until the cord be broken the bird cannot fly.”
Are you an introvert or extrovert?
Source: Tumblr: Social Introverts
Whenever I start to feel down and out, I think of all these people who became instrumental in shaping the history of Christianity.
Have a blessed Sunday.
Source: Catholic and Depression
On my way to work, something fell from the sky. As I walked closer to it, it appeared to be a small piece of paper iridescent green colour. I bend down to pick it up and it was paper light.
Good Lord. A hummingbird. I don’t know what to do. I was so scared that it might have died from the impact of hitting the pavement. It was breathing so fast. Stroking it as gently as possible and praying to it “Please do not die” was all I can do,
I turned around and went to the nearest bush. I laid it gently, left and hope it will come back to its senses.
On my coffee break around 10 am, I went to check the bush. The hummingbird was gone. I hope it flew away.
This was the first time I encountered a hummingbird.
Fast forward a year later. Spring, a beautiful sunny day, however, the dark night of the soul is trying to invade me.
I was gardening on my balcony at the same time talking to God.
God, where are you. I don’t particularly like how I am feeling, please take this away from me. Where are you?
Suddenly I heard this whooshing sound. It was high pitched buzzing more like it. Am I hearing things now? Or the tension is affecting my eardrums again?
I look up and right in front of me was this beautiful golden hummingbird.
Oh my God. I repeated this so many times in my mind. Transfixed to this small creature, I did not breathe nor move for fear of scaring it away.
Time stood still.
Zoom, it was gone. So was the dark night of the soul.
From here on, the hummingbird is my constant companion especially when I tend to garden. One hummer brought others and they stay around all year.Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year. Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees. And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stand still. For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill. A Robert Frost Hummingbird Poem
Who doesn’t like Bacon? Can’t say I don’t. I happen to like bacon and the smell of bacon wafting through the atmosphere. Imagine me hovering on mid-air following the scent of the bacon. It’s so enticing. Ah ….
Bacon is one of the most common discussions at work. We could talk about bacon all day long except for other belief system that doesn’t eat meat at all. However, they are intoxicated by the smell of bacon. Yet, their faith keeps them from eating this sinful delicacy. They have such deep abiding faith.
Would you care to join me and eat bacon?
When I invite someone, I try all kinds of tricks to join me or join us. But I suppose dangling bacon is not as good as dangling a carrot.
I am actually talking about Catholics bloggers. There are many of us: some are really dedicated, some are lapsed. And there are non-Catholics that are just faithful to their religion. It really does not matter to me. Catholic means Universal. I embrace you all.
For the sake of this post, I am supposed to link two sites that are catholic bloggers. Let me introduce:
Claudia. I like her sense of humour and I can relate to her.
“Whoever suffers from mental illness ‘always’ bears God’s image and likeness in himself, as does every human being.” excerpt from statement by Blessed Pope John Paul II at International Conference for Health Care Workers, on Illnesses of the Human Mind, November 30, 1997.
Not The Sword But The Pen. She wants to join the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows (Beaverton, Oregon). I happen to follow the footsteps of St. Francis.
Friar Musings. The title is exactly what it says. He is a Franciscan Friar. Again, he is another St. Francis in the making. This link speaks about mindfulness and I quote:
The weather and its coming and goings make us vigilant. What else in life causes you to be vigilant, attentive, watchful, observant, alert? Is it the literal thief in the night? Maybe at best I have been attentive – you know… lock the doors and windows, install an motion-sensing flood lights outside, regular things. Did I stay up all night on watch? No. Didn’t install ADT or other home protection systems, either. Maybe a better word for all this is that I was “mindful.” I was mindful of the possibility of a thief in the night, but it was all just integrated into my life.
I did ask the first two but not Father. They are good in what they do already to let their faith shine in the whole blogging world.
As for Better Than Bacon, this is what it’s all about: click on Man Alive.Related Links: