When I made the reservation for the retreat at the monastery, I didn’t know I would be telling Sister B about my new found desire to restore my broken marriage. I also told her what the Lord has been doing, healing my depression, and bipolar. She knew about my depression history but not bipolar. I didn’t admit it myself until recently either.
But the beautiful part is that by the time I saw so clearly what I had been suffering from, I was already on my way out of this mysterious and deadly disease. I know it’s too early to tell for sure. After all, this is my first fall that I am not depressed in 10 years. I also know bipolar is incurable they say. 50% of the bipolar patients end their lives in suicides. That’s a remarkably high rate. It is also a recurrent disease, with very high rate of relapse. According to a 1999 study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, 73 percent of those diagnosed with bipolar disorder experienced at least one relapse over a five-year period; of those who relapsed, two-thirds had multiple relapses. Since I got off my anti-depressant after my first full-blown bipolar episode, I had at least 5 major episodes that I can remember over a five-year period. In my case, the depressive episodes were very long. I probably spent well over 70% of my time deeply depressed during the last 5 years.
Hiding all that I have found out about myself would be lying to the Sister. It was important to tell her about what the Lord had been doing in my life, healing me so miraculously. I knew I was jeopardizing my long time dream. The desire to become a Trappistine nun saved me for the last four years. It anchored me so close to God, and even though I wasn’t a nun yet, in my heart, I was already a nun. I went through all the formation process that all nuns go through before entering the community. In my mind, I have lived out that path for the last 4 years.
“Because of your history of mental illness, we cannot accept you in this community. Trappist life style is highly isolated. I think the Lord wants you to engage in the service of others through connection, and maybe involving some sort of social work. There is a reason you went through what you went through. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Lord guides you to the path where your past sufferings will help others that are going through the same suffering you already went through!”
I knew I would be hearing this. Maybe that’s why I was remarkably calm. Or maybe it was because of the similar response I got from my ex-husband when we recently talked on the phone about the possibility of reuniting again. “I am happy where I am. I feel like a different person now, and I am sure you are, too. We are both better and stronger because of what we went through. I don’t know how I would feel if your depression recurs again.”, was his response.
But I am healed! I know it! God healed me! I shout out loud inside. I know I cannot prove this to anyone. And it will take my remaining life to prove. The thing is, I don’t need to prove anything. I just need to believe in God and His promises. I believe. I trust Jesus. I know he has plans for me. I know he will provide a very good home for me.
Upon leaving the monastery after our long, heartfelt talk, I spotted a butterfly sitting on a flower. For the reasons that I did not know, this butterfly captured my attention. I walked quietly to it, mesmerized. I bent down to get a closer look. Strangely, the butterfly wasn’t affected at all by my intrusion. It was like she was letting me take a good look at herself. Then I discovered one of her wings had big gap in the lower part. It was about the size of a nail, a pretty big cutout. At that sight, I half smiled, and half sympathized. The butterfly reminded me of myself. I took a picture of the wing as a reminder for myself and as soon as I was done capturing an image of that butterfly, it flew away fast! “It still flies!” I said to myself lost in a sense of wonder.
They are closing the retreat cabins during the winter. My next retreat won’t be until next Springtime. Who knows where I will be by that time comes. Life is one unpredictable game. Maybe Sister B and my ex will change their minds about me. I know their hearts are all for me. I know God has His mind and heart totally focused on me, loving me, pouring out His amazing grace on me. I know my heart and mind are all His. Nothing else matters. Only God’s will, and my sole desire to do His will alone whatever that may be. This is truly the beautiful life I have always dreamed of living.