Revealing relapse

“There is trouble in the air, destruction is everywhere
And men are being trampled beneath the soil
And nations, great and small, have now begun to fall
Oh come let us go back to God, go back to God”  written by Thomas Dorsey, as sung by Donnie McClurkin

When I talk about backsliding, I often mean it negatively.  When I backslide, I’m going to back old, often negative, habits and ways of thinking. Like every normal person, I have times when I’m disciplined, motivated, and therefore feeling and being successful.  If I “relapse” into past behavior, it is usually because I’m exhausted, demoralized, and struggling physically, mentally, and/or emotionally.  Life goes in cycles.  It’s never a journey of point A to point B.  So why do I hold myself to that unrealistic black and white thinking?  What if “going back” has its benefits?

Para los que me conocen, y’all know I’m often goal-driven. I take on reading challenges, savings challenges, and prayer challenges. I train for half-marathons and for street performances of various choreographies.  I do weeklong class hops, novenas of daily masses, 40 day fasts, and multi-week fitness programs. But I don’t always complete these goals to the best of my ability.  Sometimes I don’t complete them at all.  Then I spend some time beating myself up about those failures.  Fortunately, time and life experience has taught me to seek humility.  Life has taught me that failure is a good time to turn back to God.

I said it.  As important as my faith life is to me, God doesn’t always come first. “Well, I guess we won’t go to Mass Carnaval weekend because I’m not about to sit in church in my costume.”  God doesn’t always fit on a busy schedule.  While I thank God when I’m succeeding, I spend less time with Him while I’m busy working towards that success.  I’m going, going, going.  Literally and figuratively running.  A quick grace over a rushed meal. Half a rosary done on the commute from one family activity to another.  I don’t build in time for devotion.

It is in times of struggle and failure that I truly give myself over to God.  When I’ve been diagnosed with illnesses, I have stood with God.  When I’ve struggled with work situations, I have had long, emotional conversations with God.  When I have lost loved ones, I have found comfort from God.  Where human motivation and individual goals waver, God is constant.

I know I have lots of work to do in the next few months. I will make my faith life part of that work.  Going back to God is wonderful.  Staying with Him must be a goal. 2eec7f06e6a3add42dfda620cb60b94d

The other shoe drops

I suppose I forgot. With all the glitter and feathers and glorious, glorious purples all around us, I was lulled into forgetfulness. But that 20/20 hindsight soon kicks into high gear, especially when you’re waiting for an hour or more in a waiting room or examination room, and then I remember the clues. The twinges of pain Sunday morning and Monday morning. The low energy which I thought was a symptom of a ressaca do carnaval(post-Carnaval “hangover”, quite similar to the post-race blues I experience after half-marathons). The inability to sleep on either side without discomfort Thursday night worried me most. Friday morning it became all too familiar. 
I am so in tune with my body now that I know when something has shifted. So in saying I forgot, I have not forgotten that my health must come first. I remember to take my daily pills. I know to call the doctor as soon as I notice something. I know to take the earliest appointments. I remember the pain and its accompanying emotions; I can admit I purposefully let go of my memories of those. Now I accept them. I let the tears fall, if only in the safety of my car in the hospital parking lot. I ask the questions of God and my body, if only in my head.
Since my last relapse, I have learned how to better manage my illness. Through the work I did with M’s wonderful counselor, I know to keep any negative emotions or serious conversations about my health private, shared only with Rambo or other adults. In terms of my physical health, I know the next steps well and can mentally prepare myself for the physical discomforts that may result. I know to pray and pray some more. I know to ask for prayers. 
This morning, I registered for my 16thhalf-marathon to be done this November. Because I know to move forward.  


At group last night, I was bubbling over with joy. I told my colleagues about Blues, about how happy I am that we communicate, about how grateful I am to be with someone who treats me the way I deserve.
Today, I feel ill, defeated, lost again. I want to close my eyes.


I still wonder if everything will turn out well for me. I want so badly to be well. I want so badly to feel as happy and strong as I was before the events of this past year. On some days, I feel whole and I am renewed by the new tools I have obtained. I am full of hope.

But other times, like this cold afternoon, alone in my big house, my left leg hurting again in that old bruise, tears in my eyes and throat, I feel damaged, vulnerable, weak, lost. I want to close my eyes and be someone else, someone who didn’t allow others to have so much power over their life. I want to not be a borderline personality. I want to be happy.

Bad start to a Tuesday

De repente, me siento perdida, como si se me hubiera abierto nuevamente un abismo. No entiendo porque me pasa esto. He luchado tanto para superar mis pesadillas, el temor, la desilusión y la confusión. Se que soy una persona de sentimientos sinceros, que jamas quisiera hacerle dano a otro ser. Aún no entiendo porque tengo que pasar por estos momentos dificiles.

El hermano del alumno bipolar está aquí aunque ha sido recomendado por expulsión. Siempre lo he tenido miedo. Aunque él no es él que estuvo en un hospital for tres semanas, siento que él es el mas peligroso de los dos.

Qué me pasa?

Three panic attacks and a letter that should have been shredded

Grief is awful. Brett’s passing has affected me more negatively than anything in recent personal history. Not even my big breakup four years ago has caused me so many sleepless nights, crazy nightmares, crying spells, and panic attacks. My symptoms of depression have returned and my behavior and thinking is reflecting that. Almost everyone has been understanding and supportive.

I know I wasn’t fully recovered on May 9th but I had greatly improved. I was happy and confident. I was getting back in touch with myself. The hours of writing and using cognitive behavioral therapy exercises had changed my thinking. I know I made progress because I can read through the charts, graphs and notes and I can see the positive changes. I know I can work towards healthy thinking and behavior again.

I make mistakes. I do things that are irrational, frustrating, and concerning. I’m not perfect. I take responsibility for the poor choices I have made in the past two weeks. But I also recognize that I have experienced a heartbreaking loss.

Flashback: Intercession at the intersection

Evil thoughts flood my head even as my little feet pound the pavement. Thoughts that need to be exorcised(“the power of Christ commands you!”): pills, bridges, a tragic end to my 35th birthday. Tears well up in my eyes as I mentally shake my head (“No!”) and I want to run faster and away from my own self-hatred. I tell myself everyone would be happier without me. Then I remember my sainted friend, how he withered away before our eyes like a dying plant, how the fire in his green eyes went out, how heavily he leaned me on that last afternoon I saw him. I realized he would not be waiting to pull me out of bay waters or drug haze. No heaven for me. No reunion with my friend or my Nino or my Abuelito or my homeboy or any of the dead I pray to every Sunday. I want to drown out the evil thoughts but they are loud, as loud as the music in my ears, the joyous rhythms I can’t hear or feel.
Two cars sliding across the street towards the curb. Smoke. A young woman stumbles out of the gray car, her long curly hair falling over her face, as the curtain of blood from her head drapes forward. I run across the street. I reach for her, despite the fresh blood. My heart is pounding and all I can think is help her. I run to the other car, the frightened driver and passenger huddled over the smoking engine. “Can I have this towel?” I grab it off the driver’s seat, hand it to the woman, tell her to apply direct pressure to her wound. I rub her back, offer words of encouragement, rinse her hair with my bottled water.
The evil thoughts are gone. I want to help. I want to live.
God was there.

The agony in the garden

“And his sweat was like drops of blood…”

Jesus’ difficult time in Gethsemane has always been an intriguing image/theme/story to me. Before he is betrayed by his closest friends, before he is stripped of his dignity, before he is beaten and killed, Jesus struggles through various emotions. He feels anxiety, panic, abandonment, grief, insecurity. But he also feels strength, resolve, peace. He faces his biggest fears with all the love in his being.

I will never forget this Holy Week. I know I am melodramatic, that the writer in me is given to hyperbole. I know that in my weakened emotional state, I am irrational, desperate, even slightly mad at times. But I know these days will remain with me as lessons.

Last night, I came close to calling 911. Just like that terrible Tuesday a few weeks ago, I cried, screamed, sobbed, and prayed as I wandered the house looking for something to break. I wandered into the kitchen but came back to my bedroom. I tore up a letter and I scratched my own arm. And then my sister(because my sister in law is now my sister) called me. Unlike the disciples, she didn’t fall asleep. She sensed my anguish and she stayed with me. Last night, for the first time in several days, I slept the whole night.

I have made a commitment to carry my cross. And so I pray in the garden.

Terrible Tuesday

“Fortunately, I keep my feathers numbered in case of such an emergency.” Foghorn Leghorn(and Johnny Cash)

Last Sunday, I started to think about taking my life again. Just the day before, I had felt triumphant. But I stumbled. The person whom I turn to the most helped me up and I stood again. Until Tuesday.

Tuesday was a day like any other. Work was crazy. My arms were taut with the tension. The temperatures soared into the 80s. I rushed home and tried to run. I barely made the half-mile mark, my ankles screaming in pain. It made me angry at myself, how useless and weak I can be. I headed to El Torito with Lisabet for Taco Tuesday. We laughed. I came home, spent the next few hours on the phone: Soldier, Izzy, Oscar, Spiritual Mom. With each conversation, my mind began to spin. It spun a web of thoughts: I am a burden. No one really knows or understands me. No one really hears me. I am not worthy of love. The thoughts coincided and fed the emotions: anger, sadness, indignation, humiliation, pain. In turn, my body began to react: shaking, rapid heartbeat, shallow breathing, headache, tensed muscles. By 10:30pm that night, I was sobbing uncontrollably, making outlandish statements in a shrill voice. Then something bad happened.

I ran into my kitchen, my sunny yellow kitchen, with the little table I’ve had since my college days, the Van Gogh sunflowers print, and my new fridge. I took out two knives and held them to my arm. Spiritual Mom asking over and over again for my address. “Please don’t do this.” “I’m going to call 911. I need to call 911.” “Don’t be defeated. Do you know what a 5150 will mean?” “I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.” The knives sharp and glittering, my reflection in the blades. Tears and more tears. My heart thumping, aching. Then the run back into the living room, crouching on the floor, weeping, wishing that someone or something could help me. The mad look around the room. Hands reaching for colored crockery. Blue. Black. Throwing it to the tiled entrance where it shattered. More screams. Red. Yellow. Blue. Thrown against the white wall, against the beige tile, broken into white dust. A small hole in the white wall where one piece would not break. More screams before the final fall to the knees. Hugging myself. Looking at the handcrafted Mexican crucifix as my Spiritual Mom mentioned Jesus, his Footprints being the only ones right now, and I began to cry again but this time from relief.

Though I was more tired than I had been in years that night, it took me another hour to get to sleep. I slept for two hours, woke up, slept for two more before calling in sick to work. By then, Tuesday had ended and with it, its terrible hold on my heart.

I haven’t had a panic attack like that in about four years. I hope it’s the last one for several more years. If anything, it shook me. It made me realize that this journey I’ve begun is long overdue. I owe it to myself to heal.