A Rainbow Spells “H-O-P-E”

Rainbow_BagasbasI woke up early this morning to witness a perfectly arched and unbroken rainbow. It was literally “clear as day”.

It rained for several days here by the beach – on and off — like a leaky tap.

So the start of the day was, to say the least, hopeful.

Inundated by depressing and stressful thoughts, and the harsh new realities I face, I could hardly appreciate the Pacific Ocean as I walked past it (I hear its roar every second) for a couple of days. It’s such a waste, really, when I SO looked forward to seeing it everyday.

I looked up for several seconds to stand in awe of that rainbow — to thank God for another day, and a new hope. The rainbow didn’t stay visible for long, but I managed to take a decent photo of it.

For me, that rainbow spelled “HOPE”. Even if that hope is short-lived, it is still hope.

It is hope that will sustain me in the coming days, as I wait for my husband to return.

It is hope that things will get better where I am now.

It is hope that a clear answer will come to our heartfelt prayers.

It is hope that we can let go when necessary — without looking back in regret.

I pray fervently for HOPE. Please, give us hope.

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When Depression Comes Back

depressed imageIt has been a little over three years since I was first diagnosed with major depression (or clinical depression) and GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder). Since that time, I had been taking medications (Imipramine for the depression and Diazepam for the GAD) to help get back some balance in my head and my life. I thank God for the treatment and the freedom it has given me – the freedom from pain, loneliness and sense of hopelessness. I was finally able to function again and perform even the simplest tasks which I had taken for granted before. I was able to enjoy life again and feel compassion for others. In other words, I felt alive again!

After tapering down my dosage from five tablets of Imipramine a day for a year and a half to one tablet within the remaining one and a half years, I finally stopped medicating two weeks ago. I honestly felt that my body, mind and emotions were sound and stable and I had been able to drink regular coffee and other caffeinated beverages without any untoward effects for several months now.  Prior to this, even just a few sips of diluted regular coffee would put my mind in a spin and cause me to have heart palpitations. I was once stuck in a McDonald’s near our place because I could not stand up after a cup of “leaded” coffee. Unfortunately for people like me who drink decaf, fast food establishments do not offer them. “Unleaded” coffee also costs around P10 o P15 more.

I realize now that I am still not ready to chuck my meds. My depression hit me so bad that I lost all motivation to do anything except vegetate in front of the TV or sleep. Even now that I have resumed taking a tablet of Imipramine, the symptoms of depression are back in full force. I am discouraged. I could only hope that I am not back to square one. I don’t want to have to take five tablets a day again.

It was a mistake for me stop medicating, especially since many of the stressful situations that triggered my bouts of anxiety and depression before are still very much present. I only realized this after reading up on depression relapse. This is what I’m having – a relapse. At least I hope it’s “just that”.

So, I am struggling again and striving to gain some measure of control over my life. There is not much I can do when the chemicals in my brain are all screwed up. This needs to be addressed first, and I will need to see my doctor again. Meanwhile, I wake up everyday and try to be hopeful. Even this is not easy – hope is difficult to grasp when I wake up wanting desperately to cry but don’t. The sun may be up, the breeze may be cooling my head, the birds may be singing, but I don’t notice all that. I feel several stabs of pain in my chest and just want to be well again. I will be. It will just take time.

A Painful Thought

Dream Big

Many people say that dreams are “free” — or that we’re free to dream. I agree with the latter. The first one is no longer true for me, because dreaming has a cost. It sometimes costs so much that it hurts. Dreaming costs us our emotions, when we get “too involved”.

Kids dream a lot — and they dream big. I envy them. Life hasn’t been so hard on them that they happily imagine all sorts of wonderful things and dream like there’s no tomorrow.

For us who have received so many disappointments in life, dreaming can be very costly. The bigger our dreams, the harder our emotions and hopes are hit when the dreams are shattered right before our eyes. Discouragement and even disillusionment set in. And before we know it, we become too afraid to dream, much less hope.

I pray for all of us who are in this pit of near despair. It’s a very unpleasant and painful place to be. May we be given enough healing to plant a spark of hope in our hearts once more.

What Dreams May Come

This is the title of a movie I’ve seen many years ago starring Robin Williams and Annabella Sciorra. The movie, What Dreams May Come, came out in 1998 and described its plot this way: After life there is more. The end is just the beginning. I distinctly remember feeling very sad yet slightly bewildered after seeing it. It is definitely not a popcorn-and-soda movie and one needs to dig deeply and somewhat uncomfortably into oneself to be able to appreciate it. It makes the viewer ask the age old question, “Is there life after death?”

It has been almost ten years since my mother passed away. I never thought I would lose her so soon and just when I turned thirty. She passed away two days after my birthday, and barely five months into my marriage.

It is understandable, I guess, for me to dream of her every single day since she passed. This went on for many years since but, for some unexplainable reason, I couldn’t reach her – even in my dreams. I would always wake up frustrated, depressed and in tears because my mother would be so close to me in my dreams, almost touching me, and then she would either fade away or refuse to be touched. For the life of me I couldn’t understand why. I remember asking her why she wouldn’t hug me and she would always have some vague reason that she had to go to a place where I couldn’t follow. I suppose dreams are vague, unless they are used to give us a specific message, the way they happened in biblical times.

It did happen to me, though. I believe with all my heart that God sent my mother to deliver a message to me when I needed to hear it most. For the first time, the scenario of the dream was very accurate – from my bed and overhead lamp in the dorm where our church was having a weekend retreat, to the green trash bin at the narrow hallway to the left of our door. Every detail was accurate and current.

I needed to know so badly that my mother was not alone and that she was at peace when she passed on. My sister, husband and I were not with her in the hospital when she died because of several complicated situations that were beyond our control. She was already gone and the respiratory machines were already silent when we reached her bedside. I remember looking up into the ceiling lights, not really seeing them, hoping that her spirit was still inside the room, hovering above us and hearing our farewells.

As I go back to that lonely dorm only two months after she passed, I remember being awakened by something – or someone. It seemed like it was 3 AM and everyone was asleep. As I tentatively opened the door of our room, I saw my mother standing just a few inches from me, radiant and smiling. She wanted to tell me something and I remember sobbing in my sleep and wanting to just run to her and put my arms tightly around her. She took my arm and led me just outside the door, next to the green trash bin. What she told me changed my whole perspective of the day she passed and took away the guilt I carried with me.

The first thing she told me was, “I’m alright, don’t worry about me.” And my tears flowed. She then gave me the hug I had always longed for as she kept saying, “I’m alright.” That was all I needed to hear. I woke up that instant, back inside the room, on my bed with the overhead lamp, sobbing uncontrollably. I thanked God for sending her to me and giving me the assurance I needed so badly. And to this day, ten years later, I look back at that time and know that God had answered my deepest prayer.

At the start of this year, I began dreaming of my mother in a whole new place. I still dream of her at least three times a week and this time, I am able to touch, hug and kiss her. We are able to talk about everything the way we used to when she was still around, and there is much hope and happiness. In fact, I dream of her, my father (who passed away twenty years ago) and my sister, together again as one family – but this time, with my husband and with my sister’s kid.

I would tell my husband how, this time, I no longer feel that my parents are far away from me. In fact, they are very much alive in me, in my heart and in my whole being. I no longer feel lost and disconnected. And I find myself praying and asking God to tell my mother and father that I miss them, and that I want them to see how happy I am with my husband, and how great a mother my sister has turned out to be. I know they know!

For those of us who have lost our loved ones, we can take comfort and hope in God’s promise to all of us in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, New Living Translation:

“And now, brothers and sisters, I want you to know what will happen to the Christians who have died so you will not be full of sorrow like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus comes, God will bring back with Jesus all the Christians who have died.

I can tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not rise to meet him ahead of those who are in their graves. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the call of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, all the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with him forever. So comfort and encourage each other with these words.”