hmmm wait a minute

i don’t really know why. i thought when i started working that i had to appear all put together. but in these blogs i had been completely honest and at times maybe even too honest? but i realized after reading a blog from a member of our church that there can be no anonymity to my story because it isn’t mine to keep private but testimony to God’s working and healing in my life. when i look back on the posts i have written, it’s such a relief that i don’t feel the way i used to feel. i had been too depressed to have hope or to think things could be any different. but God showed me the impossible was possible. i haven’t been hospitalized in about a year which is the longest stretch of time i have gone since getting depressed in 2002! praise the Lord!

i wonder if things i wrote and will be writing are age appropriate for youth group members…but then i realize as far back as i can remember i was unhappy…help didn’t come soon enough…hope was all too far out of reach…and if i could have known when i was younger that i didn’t have to feel that way, that God could and would help me, my life would have been totally different…and i think over time this blog will be helpful to those who are struggling with depression, despair, hopelessness, etc. so i’m not deleting any posts i wrote.

when i was in high school, a close friend of mine died before reaching age 16. she ran away from home and possibly took her own life. would she have been too young to read posts i have written where i am writing from place of pain and suffering that she would have identified with? if she could read any one of my posts and find hope that her life might be different if she could just hold on, i mean, if i would bring her back through anything i could do i would. but i can’t bring her back to life. but maybe other people who are feeling hopeless and lost might find encouragement that as badly depressed as i was that i am no longer feeling that way. i didn’t think i would live to see this day…but slowly but surely, God healed me.

my dad always said when i recover that i would be able to help others who are suffering as i had suffered. every time i heard that, i couldn’t believe that day would ever come. but now it has. and so here’s hoping and praying that any of the things i wrote gives hope rather than discouragement to others who feel lost, hopeless, depressed, suicidal… it’s something of a miracle actually. so i can only think God healed me. about a year and a half ago, my psychiatrist had lost hope that i could get better. she thought ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) was the only hope i had left. i didn’t believe her then and i certainly don’t believe her now. the only hope i had was in God, not ECT. maybe for some people ECT is what will improve their chronic depression. but for me, it wasn’t.

so anyway, long story short, blogs on this site have been written with honesty that might reveal emotions and thoughts that may be shocking. it’s all true. i lived through it. and i’m here. i made it to the other side. and when i couldn’t make it on my own, i had help from others, prayers, encouragements, hospital visits, phone calls, e-mails… thank you.

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accidental overdose

i was putting off blogging so that i wouldn’t have to process all that happened in the past week.  well, now it’s time to process.  and i process best by writing.  so  you see how this blog is practically necessary for me.

after i wrote the last blog last wednesday night, sometime after that and sometime before i fell asleep, i got rid of every last sleeping pill that i had.  it all went down my throat somehow.  i only remember the first batch.  i didn’t intend on consuming anymore.  i discovered two days later that i couldn’t find a single sleeping pill.  i searched my trash can and the best of detective work tells me that i took every last sleeping pill that was in my reach.

i don’t know how i woke up the next day, albeit the sun had already gone down.  i woke up to a phone call and rushed out the door to show up for my dinner appointment.  i got there by car too.  at the time, i didn’t know i had taken all the rest of the sleeping pills.  so i drove myself to and back from my friend’s house.  i only started suspecting something was wrong with me when that night i started throwing up everything i could until i had nothing more to throw up.  my friend was fine when i inquired about his health the next morning.  so i figured it wasn’t the food that was the problem.  something with me was the matter and that’s what kept me up all night and why i didn’t feel well.

most of the time, after i abuse over the counter or prescribed medicine, i call someone and get help within the first couple of hours.  but this time, i didn’t call for help.  i didn’t think i needed help.  anyway, i was way beyond any kind of coherent state of mind by the time i actually fell asleep.  and by the time i woke up, the pills had probably done all, if not most, the damage it could have done.  and so for sure, two days later when i realized i had taken way too many sleeping pills, that i was still alive amazed me and i seemed to be doing relatively well physically.  psychologically, i was in shock, disbelief, scared, and lost.

i always wondered what accidental overdose is all about.  now i know what it means and how it can happen!  after i realized what happened, i didn’t call my therapsit to tell him what had happened, what i had done, and how i was doing.  i was scared that in my incoherent state that i continued to take pills.  why?  why did i keep taking the sleeping pills?  sleeping pills don’t put me to sleep anyway for the most part.  i wasn’t trying to sleep so i don’t even know why i took them in the first place.  i wondered, does my inner most self that lies beneath the surface really want to end my life?  at the very least, it wasn’t trying to look out for my health!  i concluded after some thought over the next few days that i wasn’t trying to kill myself knowingly or accidentally.  it’s the list of things that i didn’t do that makes me conclude that i wasn’t trying to kill myself.  i didn’t drink alcohol which was easily accessible which would have intensified the effects of the sleeping pills.  i didn’t take my prescribed medicine, not even a single one.  i only took sleeping pills that night.

part of me wants to live.  part of me wants to not live if the quality of life sucks, as it has been for me in the past 6 years with severe depression.   so if the quality of life can’t be improved, then the only choice left, it seems to me at times when i am under extreme excruciating pain, is to stop the pain and if life is what allows for the pain to continue, then it must end.  anyway that’s something like what my mind runs through when i am not doing well.

i told my therapist last night about what happened.  he made some interesting observations.  actions i choose, when they harm me physically, psychologically, or spiritually, set me back from recovery.  he said we could choose to work on whether to die or not to die, the impulses i have, and how i cope with the impulses when i experience them, etc.  or we could work on how i might live life, life where the quality of life is desirable.  anyway for now he said he could and would hold all of hope for both of us that i might/will get better.

so practically what does this all mean?   i mean, if i can’t kill myself with all the sleeping pills i took last week (believe me i had a lot of sleeping pills and i took them all!), i don’t know what will get the job done.  either i am unbreakable or God keeping me alive, protecting me from myself at times when i am most vulnerable.

what do i do next?  i guess i probably will do things as i have been doing without major changes.  but i will at least be aware as i am choosing an action, whether it will promote or hinder my recovery.  i don’t know about the value or quality of life in general, for others.  but my life, as it has been, is unacceptable!  i don’t want to live the life i have been living.  that life, i want to end!  i will fight to end that life for as long as i can, even if it kills me.  through therapy, through medicine, through prayer, through support, and coping skills, for now, i will fight to bring an end to the crappy, painful, life that is soaked in despair.  if depression can’t be managed, then i, with my unrelenting depression, may have to say farewell to this world.  but if somehow i can find some breathing space, some wiggle room, and ways to fight back the depression, i’ll be here that much longer.  as my friend keeps reminding me, the battle remains to be fought, it is on-going, and the towel shall not be thrown in, not even if it takes my last breathe to continue the fight.

strangely

for a long time, i felt distant from god and couldn’t pray as i had before. and then when a friend told me last week about her health condition (that she may find out in a week whether she has a limited time to live), i started praying for her and am finding that i feel different when i pray.  in desperation i prayed as i felt the urgency of the need for god. i mean, i had been praying before but maybe without the sense of urgency, like if things were a matter of life and death. and these days at morning prayer, we really do pray for the life or death of our friend. and something in me has changed. of course i can’t heal my friend. i’m not even sure how much the doctors could do even if they discover that she needs treatment. whether for good or bad, i feel a sense of peace. no doubt, last week when i heard the news i was really disturbed. but now i feel that we are all going to be fine.

efficacy of prayer

i went to morning prayer this morning.  i am not even sure why i went since i don’t think that god is listening to my prayers.  i prayed for another person and felt really weird about doing that.  i think i’m going through a crisis of some sort spiritually.  nothing makes sense anymore.  i’m not sure what i believe anymore.

petitionary prayer and faith

as i have done for the past three years or so, i went to morning prayer today. and i wondered, why should any of the prayers we pray matter? why should god who created the universe care or help me to finish my semester at school or to have more wisdom?

a few years ago, i wrote a paper on petitionary prayer. my thesis was that petitionary prayers play an indispensable role in our sanctification process: as our prayers get answered (or not answered) we learn about the character of god and as we pray we experience god of the universe as our god.

i don’t know how job or st. paul kept up their faith in god. sure when things are going well, you can believe that god is for you. ironically, at those moments you might forget about god because you don’t need god to help you. but when things are going badly and take a turn for the worst, people tend to turn to god and ask god for help. and in such difficult times, god may be more real to you and you may rely on god more for everything because you can’t rely on anything else.

but what happens when a bad thing happens and another bad thing and another bad thing happen to a person? i don’t mean that things that happen have to be viwed as “objectively” morally a bad thing. but when someone feels that gods is not with them, that god is not for them, what happens to one’s faith?

i’ve been told in the past to seek god more in times of trouble: read the scripture, spend time in prayer, and rely on your community of faith. but what happens when those things fall through as well? then i suppose, you still read the scripture, pray to god more even if you are praying that you don’t know what to pray, and tell others to pray for you.

i’m reminded of prosperity gospel – people counting on god to bless them b/c they believe that god is good, and perhaps also b/c they believe their works warrant their blessing. most people would say, no god never promised happiness just that god would be with us through it all, the good, the bad, the happy as well as the sad moments. but what does it take for one to say, god is not for me (as opposed to god being for you, showing you favor). more importantly, when you have been pushed to the edge, to your limits, how can you turn back to god?

god doesn’t test us more than we can bear, right? the bible says so. probably god knows what your limits are. but when you feel that you have been pushed and pushed to the point you can’t bear the pain, suffering, disappointment, despair anymore, what then?

prosperity gospel – does god want you to be happy?

so the tradition i was brought up in, is big on prosperity gospel. god wants to bless us, spiritually and materially. if we keep god’s commandments, pray hard and live in accordance to god’s will, god will show god’s favor upon us. and of course, to complicate matters, the tradition i believe in now is not big on prosperity, at least not in the way most prosperity preachers would like their congregation to believe.

i just read dave sung’s blog where he asks what prosperity gospel folks would do with the passage where apostle paul asks god three times, to take the thorn away from his side and god responds to paul by telling him that god’ grace is sufficient for him (pasted from dave sung’s blog out of laziness on my part):

7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

so how would prosperity (god wants to bless us – physically, materially, spiritually) gospel preachers respond to this passage?

i think the problem with prosperity gospel is that they emphasize material (wealth, health, etc.) blessing at the expense of spiritual blessing. and those who criticize prosperity gospel folks do it at the expense of limiting how god can/does bless us. granted, i know those who are pointing fingers at prosperity gospel preachers are saying they are limiting god and choosing to believe in a god who is like a santa clause – giving toys (or blessing) to those who are good (theough works, not grace). and well, i can’t disagree there! they are picking and choosing to believe in a god that does not fully capture who god is as revealed through the hebrew bible and the new testament.

but the non-prosperity gospel preachers don’t/can’t/couldn’t deny that god could bless us if god chooses to – in all aspects, not only spiritually, but materially, physically, etc. we can’t run with hebrew bible (as well as some NT) passages where god says do X and god will bless you. for instance, if you commit your works to god, or if you ask, if you have faith, etc. then god will “bless” you. now exactly what the blessing is, isn’t that what prosperity gospel preachers are choosing to focus on wealth, health, etc. BUT they shouldn’t leave out spiritual blessing. and those who are non-prosperity preachers shouldn’t just say god blesses us spiritually because god can and does bless us in anyway god chooses to.

i just realized that the distinctions i’m seeing here explain why my parents and i don’t understand each other sometimes! okay, a lot of times. wowsers.

christmas eve in seoul – immanuel

my mom and i had a quiet dinner because my dad, brother and sister here in korea had other plans.  i thought to myself, christmas in korea isn’t so different.  in boston, i expect to spend it alone but end up spending it with lots of friedns.  here in korea, i expect to spend christmas eve with family but end up spending it practically alone, at least christmas eve dinner. 

after dinner, my mom and i went to coex to look for some books.  when we got there we saw a huge crowd of people trying to get down to the subway station!  they weren’t in line to get on thet train or to get through the gates.  they were simply trying to get into the station!  wow.  as we were walking towards the bookstore, i noticed that people, practically everyone, were wearing red, just kidding, they were all wearing black.  i guess wearing black happens in any city?  anyway my mom and i bought a book.  grabbed some coffee at starbucks (yes starbucks is everywhere!).  then we tried to get out of coex mall and we did successfully.  but we went out the wrong exit so we had to walk for more than 30 minutes to get to where we wanted to be!

so no, i wasn’t able to check out redmango tonight to be able to compare it to pinkberry, or yoberry or berryline (both in boston area).  sorry folks.  the review of redmango is going to have to come after christmas.  i did send a fax to their main office to complain about how much trouble i had on their internet site. 

as expected, our entire family (those who are in korea) went to church today.  there was a music part – complete with little kids singing, which i unfortunately missed – and then a short service and then a performance by the choir.  the choir was great.  the solos in one part almost moved me.  🙂  it was weird, however, how we were practically the only ones standing up during the handel’s messiah – hallelujah part.  later, more people stood up.  i guess i just feel like you can’t listen to it without standing up, not because of tradition (ok maybe a little bit due to tradition) but out of reverence for the creator.

the title of the sermon was immanuel.  and the pastor preached that we are not alone, god is with us.  he said, don’t go through life as if you are alone because god is with you.  and when god is with you, all things are possible.  believe in the power of god.  believe in miracles.  have hope because god is with us.  god is with you.

what i haven’t said in my last blog was that my dad is the pastor of the church we go to.  so of course i felt like he was tailoring the sermon just to me.  i mean, sometimes i feel like a pastor is talking directly at me during a sermon, but i know that can’t be the case because they don’t know what i’m going through.  but this pastor, my dad, he knows what i’m going through.  so who knows?  maybe he did in part speak to me, directly to me.  i liked what my dad said – that we are not alone and that god is with us.  more than liking it, i want to believe it.  i want to believe it because i think it’s true.  here i think it’s appropriate to mention william james’ will to believe essay and his phrase “leap of faith.” 

i want to believe that god is with us and i think it’s true.  but i don’t know if i have the religious experience that warrants me to say i know that god is with us.  i know it in my head that god is with us.  whether a personal god or an impersonal god, god who created us and everything else, god is with us.  i’m sure of that.  so why can’t i believe it in the depths of my soul???

it felt so awkwards today to say merry christmas to the few people i said it to.  it’s too warm in seoul.  we’re not going to have a white christmas.  if we get any precipitation, we’re going to get rain.  anyway, it’s close to midnight here in korea.  so merry christmas!