Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross


“Behold, the Cross of the Lord! fly, ye ranks of the adversary! The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed. Alleluia.”

Happy feast of the Exaltation of the Cross! I was blessed to have kissed a first class relic of the True Cross thanks to my former spiritual director. I cannot tell you the overwhelming love I felt in that moment. Whether it was my love for Christ, his love for me, or a moment in which I felt the two loves meeting, I don’t know. All I know is that never had the power of His love for me ever hit me as hard as it did at that moment. I will never forget it.

Lord, I know I don’t keep the greatest love story — Your death on the Cross for the salvation of all humanity — in my mind but I hope that it’s deeply embedded in my heart. If it is not, I ask that You please make it so. I want all my actions, words, & life to reflect Your love. 

I pray that You empty me of my selfishness, pride, vanity, & all other things that keep me from doing what I can to do something good for Your kingdom. 

May I always have the courage & fortitude to carry my own crosses & follow where You May lead me. ❤️

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

I’m Officially a Benedictine Oblate!

On August 22nd — the feast of the Queenship of Mary (OF calendar) / Immaculate Heart (EF calendar) — I became Sister Marie-Therese to the monks of Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek Abbey in Oklahoma. 

Yes, you read that right! After two years of novitiate — the first of which was spent as an Oblate novice with the Monks of Norcia (before transferring to Clear Creek) — I have finally made my Final Act of Oblation. Cue the tears of joy! 

If you’ve been following my journey, you’ve known what a roller coaster it’s been; how many years it took to get to this point. But I’m so grateful for everything that happened, the craziness of retreat at the Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe in June 2019 included. I wouldn’t change a single thing about my experiences. I won’t go into all of that as I want to focus on this specific event. 

During the St. Andrew Christmas novena last year, one of my intentions was that my eyesight would be good enough to enjoy a trip to Clear Creek as I wanted to visit and make my final promises. While my eyesight continues to improve against all odds (thanks, Bl. Carlo Acutis!), a trip didn’t seem in the cards for me this year. A planned trip in the Spring fell through when my mom began her first of many oral surgeries. Without my caregiver, there was no way I would be able to get there by myself; I haven’t regained enough of my eyesight to do all things myself. I had hoped that maybe by the autumn I’d be able to go but then my next round of doctor appointments began piling up for the autumn and it didn’t look like it was going to happen… until a dear friend invited me to tag along with her and her family on a road trip to the Abbey. We planned for the trip for a couple of months. I had my oblate name approved by my oblate master at the beginning of the summer, and prayed that if it was God’s Will for me to finally make my promises, that all obstacles would be removed. And they were. 

It ended up being a quick trip — 2 days on the road to CC, the weekend at the monastery, and then another 2 days back to L.A. — but it was the best trip I’ve had in my adult life (so far). Seeing the beauty of the states we traveled through (California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma) made me think about God’s goodness and how the whole thing seemed to be a metaphor for life. I wrote about that on this Instagram post (click to read and see the pictures). I learned a lot about myself; gave me the confidence I had lost (or perhaps never really had) after the intense year I had last year with all my medical issues. 

I keep saying that I left my heart at Clear Creek because that’s what it feels like. I have never felt so much at home as I did at the monastery. Yes, that includes my actual home. I don’t know how to describe it other than I felt like I not only belong at Clear Creek but that it had always meant to be my home; that I never really knew what “home” meant until I arrived there. It’s technically already my spiritual home and the monks at CC are now my brothers and family but it feels like much more than that. It was so hard for me to leave; I didn’t want to. The room (“cell”) I stayed at felt like my actual room and even got a little misty eyed as I said goodbye (“but, really, more like a ‘see you soon’”) to it. Side note: it looks like the room where I stayed was once a cell of one of the monks which is pretty darn cool! I shared a couple of photos of where we stayed at this Instagram post.

The ceremony itself was quick but so beautiful. The ceremony happened before the Solemn High Mass. I knelt in front of the altar of St. Benedict and promised to live my life according to the Holy Rule of St. Benedict and the statutes of Oblates. I hand-wrote my final promises the night before the ceremony which I read aloud at the ceremony. It was the first time I’d written anything that long (or, really, anything beyond a word) since losing my eyesight last summer. It was also the first time I’ve read anything aloud in years, which was a bit nerve wrecking for me since I read very slowly due to my limited eyesight. But I did it! At the end, I got to kiss a relic of St. Benedict as tears rolled down my cheeks. I will never forget that moment. 

The ceremony was extra special because I was able to make my final promises with my dear friend with whom I’d traveled to CC. We had talked about hopefully being at CC at the same time one day but never did I imagine it would be so soon or for such a special day. I’ve known her for so long (since she was a teenager) and I’ve always admired her so to be able to not only share this beautiful experience with her but also be able to call her my sister for life was a true gift from God. 

I’ve written a lot on Instagram already so I’ll just link this last post I shared about the trip to Clear Creek. I want to avoid repeating myself too much but I will repost this bit that I think is important (for those who won’t be able to access my IG posts) regarding my Oblate name, which I know a lot of people were curious about:

“I initially wanted to go with ‘Francesca’ in honor of St. Frances of Rome but there were so many reasons …. why i ended up choosing the name of Marie-Therese; the biggest reason is that I wanted to honor my two biggest spiritual inspirations... Our Lady is the Queen of Virgins (thus my Queen & role model if God truly calls me to consecrated virginity). St. Therese is the saint with whom I most identify with in terms of temperament & the saint who has been a huge part of my life & the biggest moments of my life since my reversion 15 years ago. I chose the French version of Mary in honor of Clear Creek Abbey’s French Solesmes roots as well.”

I had been thinking about my Oblate name for literally years. What can I say? I’m a planner. Lol. I didn’t realize until after the name of Marie-Therese was approved that both were my co-patronesses for the year during which I became an Oblate novice. 

I’ve really grown to love and admire our Blessed Mother, especially this past year. Through her title of Sorrowful Mother, I was able to confront the deep wounds I had (and still have) in my heart, something that began this past Lent. It has brought a lot of healing and peace to both my life and my relationships with those who’ve hurt me in the past. Through her title of Immaculate Heart, I’ve begun to feel like I’m finally becoming the woman God has always meant for me to be. She is whom i most want to be like; my role model of true femininity and discipleship. 

St. Therese, despite being one of the most popular saints — is actually a sort of unsung hero when it comes to my health recovery. Yes, I bug Bl. Carlo for his continued intercession and I credit him for everything that led to my diagnoses but St. Therese has accompanied me throughout this journey as well. I was admitted to the hospital (where I officially began my recovery) in between her feast days in the EF and OF calendars last year. Whenever I’ve felt at my lowest or have had little relapses, I’ve found her autobiography to be a sort of spiritual medication for my weary soul. She’s been my heavenly friend for most of my adult life; one of the few saints that has been consistently in my life since my reversion. I’ve been told I remind people of St. Therese because of the sufferings I’ve been through; a humbling compliment as I feel like St. Therese had more holiness in her little pinky nail than I have in my entire body. I’m so far from having just an iota of her holiness but it’s been her Little Way that has helped me survived some of the most difficult times of my life. 

You see why I couldn’t choose between the two and why I was relieve that Fr. B approved the hyphened name? I couldn’t ask for two better patronesses who will accompany and inspire me as an Oblate for the rest of my life. 

I want to thank you all for the prayers… and donations. Two years ago, I felt called to become an oblate novice but didn’t have the funds for the Chicago retreat. On the suggestion of a now-priest friend, a GoFundMe was set up and the funds were raised in only 5 hours! This time around, I didn’t ask for any donations but a generous anonymous donor from my home parish donated some that really helped more than I thought, especially when we had to change hotels at the last minute for safety reasons in New Mexico. And, of course, the invaluable prayers which are worth gold. I know you guys have been praying for me and this journey and I cannot thank you all enough for them. Please know that I prayed for you all at the monastery because it was a team effort — you guys helped me get there. 

I know I will write more in the future but, at least, here’s a quick summary of the trip. I got home a week ago but I’m still unpacking what happened and it’s still sinking in so expect more posts in the near future. 

Okay, this post is sufficiently long, don’t you think so? Lol. Mea culpa. Y’all know my tendency to write a lot. 

I hope you’ve all been well! 

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Am I Becoming a Consecrated Virgin or Am I Getting Married? — Discernment FAQs


Even though I’m no longer active on Twitter, I still get folks from the site who message me on Instagram or the blog’s FB page, asking how I’m doing or (increasingly) where I am in my vocation discernment. I’ve already given you a quick update on my health over the last couple of months so I’m going to tackle the second question in this post so I’m not repeating myself in private messages.

Am I still discerning consecrated virginity? 

Yes and no. Yes, I’m still discerning in the sense that I believe this is what God is calling me to do. I’ve been actively and earnestly discerning this vocation for the past year and a half. I’d previously thought about it but I didn’t have the courage to do it until things became a bit more complicated for me (more on this later). I’ve read the literature. I’ve had a spiritual director for most of my discernment guiding me. I’ve been living my life as if I were already a CV. 

I’m not discerning in the sense that I’m no longer asking God for clarity on whether this is my vocation or not. I feel at peace with this vocation and the discernment journey. I don’t think there’s much else I can do. It’s the waiting game right now. I’m waiting to talk to my SD and see if and when we can move forward with me having my interview with Archbishop Gomez. He (Abp. Gómez) will ultimately decide whether he believes this is my vocation or not. Since we were in lockdown during the first year of COVID and Abp. Gómez has been the USCCB president for the last almost 2 years, going forward and getting that interview has been on hold. Hopefully things will move forward again soon now that things are opening up and his term as USCCB president is coming to a close. 

How I knew I wasn’t meant for religious life or marriage.

Like with everything else, discernment is key. I discerned religious life first. I discerned it more than once because I wanted to be a nun for the wrong reasons the first time, in my early 20s. 

I also dated. I hated dating but my former SD said I had to at least try it so I would be sure it wasn’t for me. He wanted to be sure that I wasn’t running away from the vocation because of my dislike of dating and love of my independence. There was actually someone in my life before I started discerning CV — someone with whom I had talked to about marriage. Engagement and wedding dates were actually planned (and not by me!) but it wasn’t right. I was going into it for the wrong reasons. As hard as it was, As soon as I realized that I hated that Jesus didn’t have all of my heart I knew I couldn’t continue entertaining a possibility of marriage with anyone.

After a lot of prayer, the 54-day Rosary novena, a lot of time spent in Adoration, and attending daily Mass, I knew that I had to discern consecrated virginity. It took a lot of courage to break things off and to disappoint everyone who wanted to see me married but I couldn’t ignore the pull in my heart to give it fully to Christ. 

Did a bad experience scare me off of dating or discerning marriage? 

Nope. I’ve had some amazing men in my life, some of whom are still good friends to this day. My last experience wasn’t the best but even before things went south, I knew it wasn’t for me. I had known for years but a combination of doubts, pressure to marry from the most important people in my life, and my own stubbornness (I really wanted to get married and have a family) were the excuses I used to not properly discern. 

What if Archbishop Gomez says I’m not called to the CV vocation? Will I discern marriage again? 

I’m following what I believe is God’s will for me. If He wants me to become a CV (as I believe He does), I’ve been on the right path. If He wanted me to discern this because it was necessary for me to get in the right mind frame for marriage, than that’s what’s going to happen. If I’m meant to be single and make simple private vows, that’s what I’ll do. I’m just following God over here. 

A dear friend recently put it this way — maybe God is testing me, to see if I’ll do what’s being asked of me. Maybe, at the last minute, He will provide a poor sacrificial ram caught in the brambles like it happened for Abraham. (Side note: yes, I still laugh over that analogy — poor sacrificial lamb of a man if I’m a called to marriage).

Regardless of what ends up happening, I can’t go wrong doing what I believe is His will for me. And, yes, I truly believe God is calling me to this beautiful vocation of consecrated virginity. 

How have I grown during this discernment?

How much time do you have? Lol. This discernment journey has been a massive blessing in my life. I’ve learned so much about myself. God has shown me all the unhealed wounds I’d been carrying. (I’ll post about the healing process and what I’ve learned from it in the next post). I’ve grown tremendously in my spiritual life, though there have been long periods of spiritual dryness.  God has shown me my strengths and weaknesses. I’ve seen my selfishness, pride, and lack of humility. But He gives me hope that I’m not a total lost cause and that makes me excited for the future, whatever it may be. 

Can I still become a consecrated virgin despite my visual impairments?

Yep. I’ve started writing (working) again. I may eventually change careers if I regain most of my eyesight back but for now I have an income and resources which will help me not be a financial burden to the archdiocese. I can do a lot more these days than I did a couple of weeks or months ago. Even if this is it — if my eyesight doesn’t improve any more and I have the blind spots permanently — there’s a lot I can do for the archdiocese as a CV despite the physical limitations. God will provide. 

I think that pretty much covers the questions I often get asked. I don’t think I’ll address this topic again until after I have my interview and know whether I’ll move forward by setting my consecration date (yes, I’ve already picked one) and getting the small things (e.g. picking my consecration dress, choosing a scripture verse to engrave inside my ring, etc.) rolling. 

Please say a prayer for me as I wait and then move forward with my discernment. 

I hope you all have a lovely Pentecost Monday!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! 

Monday, May 17, 2021

Jealousy, Being Small, & a Return to Blogging

   I’ve been feeling the tug to return to blogging for a while now but I wanted to make sure I was in a place where I could do it again. And I am. This post is one I feel like God is asking me to write; to share this thing I’ve had on my heart  

If you haven’t been following updates on Twitter or Instagram (the only place where I’m actually active), you might’ve not heard what happened to me shortly after my last blog post. If you want a more detailed story of what happened (and how Blessed Carlo Acutis interceded for me), please read my first Epic Pew article in months

In a nutshell: I lost my eyesight and I almost died. I don’t say that to be a sensationalist. My body was shutting down and I seem to have had at least one adrenal crisis. I was almost completely blind by the autumn after a rapid decline of my eyesight over the summer. I spent weeks hospitalized between May and November of last year, trying to get healthy. Again, full details are in the article; details I won’t repeat on here. All I will say is that I’m immensely grateful for all those who prayed for me and the doctors who didn’t give up on me.

As I mentioned in the most hopeful Instagram update yet, my neuro-ophthalmologist was utterly shocked by how much of my eyesight has been restored in the last 3 months. I still have multiple blind spots in both eyes (and I can’t see anything straight ahead out of my right eye). However, the shrinking of the blind spots and how clearly I can see out of my left despite the lingering blind spots is causing us to hope for a miraculous recovery — one we are crediting Bl. Carlo for. I still need the accessibility features on my phone (everything I type or highlight is read to me) but I’m slowly getting there. I couldn’t see any text months ago. I still can’t see most photos nor watch movies but it’s getting better. The doctor gave me the okay to get back into writing at full capacity (or as much as I can do). That’s why I’m writing again. 

Now that I’ve given you guys a quick update to my life over the last couple of months, I can talk about what I want to share: God calling me to be small and the jealousy that prompted me to have this epiphany. 

As some of y’all are aware of, I’m not active on social media (save IG) so I miss out on a lot. And it seems like so much has happened in just a relatively short amount of time. More and more friends are having their books published by big name publishers. Almost everyone seems to have a podcast. My beautiful and clever friends and acquaintances are true inspirations with their entrepreneurial endeavors. It’s a beautiful thing to see… but I can’t help feeling jealous. 

I don’t wish them to be less successful nor do I “hate” them for their success. I’m simply jealous that they’re out there, doing things I had dreamt about. I feel left behind and I have moments where i feel as worthless and useless asl some people have made me feel. I’m sure you’ve seen some people on Twitter calling me a “poor little girl with a weak little body” and other condescending comments like that. 

Not being able to make ends meet  and unable to contribute to the household income is hard for me. I’m the one who is supposed to be taking care of my retired mother, not the other way around. I feel like a burden to her; having to rely on her to cook for me and be my literal eyes when going to new places so I don’t accidentally hurt myself with things I’m unable to see. If I could at least help bring in some funds it wouldn’t hurt as much but it does. And then I see everyone flourishing and thriving and the jealousy returns. 

I know this is all pride talking. “I’ve been writing longer. I’ve been at this longer. Why can’t I get a break! Why did these health crosses make me an invalid for months? Why is the future uncertain? Will I ever be able to do enough — be enough?” I’ve wrestled with all these questions and more. Thankfully, sooner or later I recognize these intrusive thoughts as being from the devil. The devil feeds our wounded pride. He wants to cause division and cause alienation. But God is greater than he will ever be and I can hear God’s voice. 

“Be small, my daughter. I love you regardless of what you can or can’t do. Be small. In your smallness, your heart will grow and more United to me you will be.” These are the words that I hear in the deepest part of my heart. 

God is calling me to be small. He knows how susceptible I am to letting little successes get to my head. He knows what a prideful person I can be. He wants me to reside in His heart and vice versa. He wants to completely engulf me in his love and mercy… and this is something that the jealousy made me realize. 

How will I try to be small? Staying off social media. Don’t get me wrong, I seriously miss all of you with whom I got to know via Twitter. As many of you know, I don’t reply to comments on Twitter; only links are posted on there. I’m going to continue sharing beautiful quotes by saints and other inspirational people (and, okay, the occasional funny reel) I come across on Instagram. But it’ll be less “this is the random thing I’m thinking or is happening to me” and more intentional posts I feel a tug to share — which was the initial purpose to my IG account. 

How else will I try to be small? Keeping myself to my little corner of the internet as quietly as possible. I’ll only share what’s on my heart after I take it to prayer first. I won’t insult God by not using the gift He has given me — the gift of writing. I don’t think of myself as a particularly good writer (and I’m not saying that to get compliments; please don’t) but I know that sometimes what I write helps others with whatever they have going on and that’s all I want — to help others.

I have a feeling God has not given me the success my peers are enjoying not only because of the risk of pride but also because He knows where my strengths and weaknesses are. I’m not a good Public speaker. I stink at evangelization because I live in dread of saying the wrong thing that will lead a person away from God; something that is actually not a Church teaching. It’s not about looking uneducated. I simply don’t want to say something that will harm another person’s journey towards Heaven. There are others who can — and do! — do that beautifully. I’m not one of those people. I can open my heart and share what I think and feel but that’s about all I can do. 

These are just some of the ways I’m going to start trying to be and stay small. I’m sure there will be other ways I’ve yet to discover. I know I have a lot of growing to do when it comes to humility — a lot! But just as St. Therese was small in her Little Way, so will I take a page from her book and find the ways God is calling me to be small. See, IG friends? I told y’all there was a reason why St. Therese was (and still is!) everywhere a few weeks ago. lol. 

I don’t know how frequently I’ll update this blog. I’ll rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit to help me with that. But I will be writing more often again. My laptop has bitten the dust (I haven’t used one in at least two months now) but between my phone and my (arriving soon-ish) tablet, I hope to both blog and write more articles for Epic Pew. 

Thank you all for your prayers and your time reading this. You have all been and will continue to be in my prayers. 

Until next time, thank you for reading and God bless!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Why the Last Month Has Been a Living Hell For Me (and It's Not COVID-19 Related)

This past month has been an absolute nightmare for me. Coronavirus lockdown aside, it took us over a month to figure out why I've had such an intense health relapse in the past month... but, really, the last couple of months altogether. The reason: a really, really bad allergic reaction to the back-to-back amoxicillin rounds I had taken for my molar infections.

When I used to think "allergic reaction," I thought of wheezing, throat-closing, facial features swelling, eyes watering, etc. You know -- the severe reaction. I never thought it could have a delay and that the physical manifestations would be as bad or surprisingly odd as I've had them.

I've experienced:
- Insomnia for weeks. That has now been followed by my recent inability to stay awake during the day as a result of weeks worth of being unable to sleep more than 3-4 hours per day.
- A skin rash that I thought was due to the stress I was under. Nope.
- Really, really bad jitteriness and anxiety. My anxiety actually wasn't as bad the first time I took amoxicillin as it has been this time around... and we were chalking it up to anxiety over the coronavirus. It may still be a combo of the two.
- My mental health going into deep depression mode. Again, we were blaming it on my failing health and the coronavirus situation, which may still have a part in it.
- My mental fog and the inability to concentrate, which has made me an unreliable writer for my poor bosses. Mercifully, they've been understanding.
- My platelets tanking under 100k (76k the first time, 96k this time).
- Possibly the daily, strong heart palpitations I've been experiencing. The first time I experienced crazy strong (but not too fast) palpitations was during one of the last doses I took. We thought it was anxiety. Nope. My doctor said, in hindsight, it was most likely a reaction to the dose since it started half an hour after I took it.
- Other things that I haven't mentioned.

Everything that has happened (and the new stuff) seems to be following the same pattern from last autumn (the first time I took amoxicillin). Some symptoms (e.g. jitteriness, extremely daytime sleepiness following insomnia, how "angry" the skin rashes look) have been worse this time. Others (platelets falling to 96k instead of 76k, the number of bumps from the rash overall) have been better.

 A few days ago marked the 30-day mark of when I took my last dose and you can tell I'm just now starting to detox from the effects. The rash started to fade on the day after I finished the Bl. Solanus Casey novena (which many of you prayed with me; thank you!). I'm starting to sleep more (a lot more; accompanied by jitteriness when I wake up). My mental fog is starting to lift and my mental health is improving. Yay for no longer being a depressed little robot!

I didn't start feeling like myself until Easter Sunday, which was coincidentally the month-mark of when I took my last dose. Theoretically, it should take 4-6 more weeks for this to clear up so here's hoping it'll continue and that the detox process gets easier in the next couple of weeks than it's been lately.

I would be lying if I said I haven't been scared this past month. I've been terrified. It's now day 34 since I last took a dose and we just figured out that all of this has been because of the amoxicillin. Again, this wouldn't have happened if I hadn't started the novena -- my doctor (who still hasn't seen me, btw; she's only gone on what I and the urgent care physician's assistant have told her) thought my rash was another skin issue. Even the PA didn't think it was an amoxicillin rash either. It wasn't until the novena was about halfway through that my doctor called to tell me that it did seem like it was an allergic reaction to the amoxicillin after all. That's also around the time that the previous pattern began showing up and it became an "OH I wonder if this is..." moment. After the novena ended, the rest of the puzzle pieces began to slot together and completed the picture. It's been worse this time around because I had to take a week's worth of antibiotics to take in late January-early February and a second-round in early March-mid March. It didn't give my body enough time to detox in between doses.

The last 2-3 days have been easier with the heart palpitations but worse with the jitteriness following naps during the day. Those closest to me have gotten panicked texts from me because of how absolutely terrible I crash and how panicked and odd I wake up feeling. Again, I had a similar reaction the first time around but it's been amplified about 10 times this time around, most likely because of the back-to-back doses.

I'm supposed to be taking Zyrtec for the allergic reaction but I've been sleeping most of my day away and I haven't been able to mentally prepare myself to take it in the few hours I am awake. To be honest, I'm afraid of an allergic reaction to the Zyrtec because of the medical PTSD of previous reactions to Benadryl and now the recent amoxicillin allergy.

And before you say, "But you're supposed to trust God." Yes, I do trust God but my mind (and the PTSD) right now is, unfortunately, is affecting my ability to think rationally. That doesn't mean I don't trust God. Remember, the amoxicillin greatly affected my mental health -- it literally messed with my brain chemistry. So, I'm just now starting to think rationally; to think more clearly. Remember the news of the young priest who committed suicide a few weeks ago as a result of a medication he was taking for GI problems; how it messed up his brain chemistry? Think along those lines for me, except I thankfully never contemplated ending my life. I was morbid in thinking I was going to die soon, I'll admit that, but not because I had any intentions of harming myself. Quite the opposite, I became hypervigilant of what was exacerbating symptoms so that I would feel better and get myself on a fast track to being on the mend so I could give myself more time to get to the confessional (whenever confessions are allowed again).

The fact that I went to the dentist this morning and that didn't have a panic attack nor was I paranoid about it pretty much confirmed that the effects are wearing off. (Side note: the appointment was considered a potential emergency situation; I was given more antibiotics as a precaution that I'm not taking unless I need to; it was given to buy more time while the lockdown is lifted and molar extractions are okayed by my insurance and the government since it's not an immediate emergency situation). Also, the fact that I'm not feeling depressed and morbid -- I actually feel like myself for the first time in weeks! -- is a good sign. I'm finally able to pray and say "Jesus, I trust in You" without any apprehension. I hadn't had more than a few hours of that trust and confidence in God for weeks when the next wave would hit. Yeah, those pills messed me up that bad.

I've spent the last 4-5 weeks unable to watch most Masses or pray because of how intense my mental fog or fatigue has been. I've been able to concentrate on my prayers for the first time in over a month in the last 2-3 days. My spiritual life took a massive beating. I hadn't been able to really do much for my vocation discernment, either, which I thought was bizarre but now makes sense. I wasn't sure if it was a spiritual attack or something else but it looks like we now have our answer. It could very well be a mix of the two -- a spiritual attack and a chemical imbalance, who knows!

So, that's where I've been lately... and why I haven't been blogging. That's why I kept asking for prayers on social media. I'm incredibly grateful to a lovely blog reader who suggested I ask Bl. Solanus Casey for this intercession because, thanks to that novena, we got answers to why my body had begun breaking down on me. Like I said, it wasn't until the novena was ending that the pattern began to emerge and things became clearer.

I pray that I can either start taking the Zyrtec tomorrow (I don't have to get up early for the first time in weeks) and/or that the rest of the effects begin to subside without my the jitteriness and other effects getting worse. Sure, most of the other physical symptoms are getting better but the anxiety is probably now peaking and the sleeping thing is just horrible to endure every time I wake up from a nap. 

Let it put it this way: Imagine that you've been sleep deprived for 24 straight hours after running a marathon all day. You're so tired but you can't sleep for some reason. Then, just as you finally settle to sleep, someone wakes you up in the most intense and frightening away, making your heart race and your body shake from the nerves. Amplify it a couple more times and you can maybe begin to imagine what I feel some naps. Sometimes my heart is racing, Yesterday it was beating at a weird rhythm for a bit and I was terrified until two first said they had similar experiences and that it probably meant I woke up at a weird REM stage. And, yes, the naps are absolutely necessary. I'm not fighting them. I'll fall asleep while eating sitting up anyway; I'm that physically exhausted at this point.

Please continue to pray for me. I'm going to call my doctor again tomorrow (I know she must be tired of getting 2-3 calls from me per week but I've had to update her on my evolving conditions) and see if we can't come up with a better game plan to make the rest of the detox process smoother. Also, please pray that there aren't any more surprises during the detox process. Yesterday's weird palpitations and yesterday and today's intense jitteriness post-naps have been new and very unnerving. Again, if I have to take the Zyrtec to minimize the effects I will but I'll be praying that I'm able to tolerate it better than other meds and that I don't get additional reactions or side effects from it.

I hope to get back into the swing of things around this blog now that I'm starting to slowly mend. I have a couple of posts planned in the upcoming week that, God willing, will actually be posted on time. Fingers crossed the fatigue lessens.

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D