In Jesus, Always at Home

Gauguin, Human Miseries
Gauguin, Human Miseries

 

Did you know that sadness is addictive? Your body remembers the ache, and the sensations that the deeply seated emotion arouses. It tries to recreate the experience even though you have no particular reason to be sad.

So again, I sat in the quiet chapel unable to define my feelings because… I was not feeling that same old sadness; the emotion I am most comfortable with. I felt no emotions, no feelings, just complete fatigue. Well, I guess I was feeling…habitually lost.

‘You need sleep.’ 

I don’t know if it was my own thought or an imagined voice, but I clearly heard it. As I sat down in the middle of the chapel at the Adoration, the usual smell of incense immediately invoked a deep sense of peace. Suddenly, sleep came over me. I knew I was tired. I was tired for the last two days. Just the other day, I woke up at 2 am, unable to go back to sleep. I stayed up almost the entire night until it was time for work. Loss of sleep resulted in another anxiety attack that late afternoon. As soon as I got home, I took some sleep aids hoping to sleep for a long time. But the long sleep that I got the night before was not enough to recover from the attack that had run through my body just a day ago.

I was so sleepy. I tried to pray but I did not know what to say. All I could feel was the drowsiness I was feeling. It was a good feeling. My body was just melting, down into my sit. Naturally, I brought my torso close to my legs and hugged my head with my arms. I was cocooned in that position for a while. I woke up, startled, after I realized that I had fallen asleep. I was in that position for more than 30 minutes.

I think about St. Therese of Lisieux, the “Little Flower”, when I fall asleep like that during my prayers. St. Therese used to fall asleep during prayer when she was experiencing spiritual dryness. She would console herself saying that mothers loved children when they lie asleep in their arms so that God must love her when she slept during prayer.

But in my case, sleep was really what my brain needed so my body can work its wonders to supply what my brain requires without the interruption of my free will. I could be so stubborn. What eventually made my depression prolong was not my medication, my genetic factors, or the daily stressors that come with living the human life, the human misery. No, it was purely my ego fighting so hard against the signals my body was sending. I ignored the signs of fatigue, the drowsiness, the sleepiness, and aches in my heart, and the cloudiness in my brain. Instead, I kept running faster and faster away from my symptoms. I pushed myself to the limit. I obsessed with physical activities; cycling races, long-distance rides, running, swimming, paddling, and yoga. I did not give my body the rest it needed. As a result, I paved my path deeper and deeper into the dark world of depression.

Only now I have come to understand the meaning of the psalm 127:

In vain you rise early
       and stay up late,
       toiling for food to eat—
       for he grants sleep to those he loves.

This morning, I meet my first full day in Tennessee where I will spend the next six days helping my parents with their moving process. I spent my evening going through my remains the day before. My entire life fits into ten boxes. Three of those ten boxes are full of my cycling gears. Though I don’t feel the need to rise early and go for a sixty mile ride anymore, I do not have a heart to give up cycling yet. So I decided to keep them. I also found the final letter I received from my last psychologist, notifying me that she dismisses my case according to my indication. The date states July 6th 2008, when my real battle was just getting started. We thought we were done with my therapy. She did not know that I had a very deceptive bipolar.

In another box, I found my cross stitch kits. I have many bookmark kits and one of them is a yellow bookmark fabric with golf-theme pattern. I bought it when I was traveling in England with my ex-husband. He loved to play golf, though he never had enough time to play it due to his frequent business trips. At that reminder, my eyes were instantly filling up with big tears. I never completed the bookmark, because I was too grief-stricken with depression. I was too sick to cross stitch. I was too sick to sleep.

I went to bed with those thoughts, but soon I fell asleep while I was praying to God. In my search for His consolation, I found deep peace overcoming my entire soul and I was granted a good night of sleep.

Like grief-stricken St. Therese falling asleep during her prayer, I wake up knowing how much God cares about me. Fully recharged, I start another day of my life in God’s grace and love. This morning, my still sleepy eyes after my long road trip follow an article about Kilian Jornet Burgada, a ski mountaineer, long-distance runner, and a mountain biker who can run a few miles up to Mont Blanc, the roof of Europe, and down to his apartment all in less than seven hours. He’s the ultra of the elite ultra athletes.

About a year ago from this day, I was sitting exactly where I am sitting, looking out the window. Going through my ultra-rapid cycling period in my bipolar depression. I was climbing, running, and flying the invisible mountains, many roofs of my mental states, and many terrains of my mental disorder. Detached from the world, I was in this room a lot, mostly in isolation aside form my parents who took great care of me in my sickness. This is the house where I was brought back from Hawaii, to surrender my egoistic battle against my depression. This is the house my parents are leaving behind. This is the house I have returned to help them in their times of transition. In just less than a week from today, this won’t be my parents’ home anymore. Yet, this is the house I feel at home as much as I do in all other places.

I am at home.

I am no longer swept away, swallowed by the sea of my painful past.

Home away from home, I am at home.

In Jesus, I am always at home no matter where my body may dwell.

 

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Sleep is so important to how we handle everyday life… I’ve been sleep deprived for several months now …hoping to get some relief ..it’s a medical issue…I wake up anywhere from 2 to 5 am. and then try to nap off and on in lazy boy…but it’s just not the same …

    I guess your memories evoked during the packing we hard in some respects..Diane

    1. lilyboat says:

      That must be so tough. I pray that God will grant you sleep. May he heel you and give you sleep in his love and peace. Insomnia is a big red signal. Take care of yourself. I send you much care!

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