Tag Archives: demons

When the Stillness Comes

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Nighttime depresses me. That’s when the demons come out. Don’t say that around the kids, my wife tells me. I don’t. I whisper it to her after they have gone to bed.

But she doesn’t understand. That’s why she is downstairs watching old reruns of Friends and I am upstairs in a dark room, praying that God will let Satan and his demons come after me. If you’re gonna let them come after me, then let them come; I’m tired of my life, I tell God.

Then a thought drifts through my bleak mind: A person in a third-world country would give an arm and a leg to have what I have. A good job. A nice house. A healthy family. Parents who love me. Et cetera.

But, what “normal” people (like my wife) don’t understand is that it’s all meaningless without a sound mind.

Again I tell God to turn the demons loose on me. Let them devour me once and for all. A dark, quiet room would normally freak me out, but the air feels almost tranquil right now. Almost like the night that I put myself to sleep with pills and tequila, never expecting to wake again.

“Who else do we turn to?” St. Peter asks Jesus in the Gospel of John. “You alone have the words of eternal life.”

In the Psalms, King David laments again and again; he always seems to find comfort in the Lord, though.

Lately that comfort escapes me.

My new psychiatrist (the first one I’ve visited since January) put me on a slew of new pills that leave me irritable and groggy. Just doing my basic job at work takes everything I’ve got. Other teachers have fun and are so relaxed and easygoing.

It must be nice.

I pray that I can be like that. I have prayed daily for that. But I’m getting tired.

So tired.

As I end this post, the coyotes (real ones; not ones in my mind) begin howling. They will howl throughout the night, signaling the darkness of night that I fear.

~t


Am I Evil: Living with Harm OCD

 

When I was very young, I remember my dad picking up each of our two cats, Amber and Dawn, and swinging them by the tail. He would laugh hysterically as they flew through the air and landed on the front lawn.

At another point in my childhood, my mother used to babysit a little 12-month-old boy. I vaguely remember my dad slapping the boy for no reason except to watch him cry. He would even pick the boy up by his hair; I’ll never forget the contorted, screaming face of the innocent little boy dangling above his playpen as my dad laughed like a madman.

 

______________________________________

 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had thoughts of kicking, hitting, and torturing cats,  small dogs, and other defenseless creatures.

I think about capturing a rabbit or stray cat and holding it captive, beating it and watching as it suffers and dies.

Until I told my sister a few days ago, no one had ever known this about me. (As I’ve mentioned before, my sister is the only person close to me who can fully relate to everything I go through.)

My sister then shared a link with me about Harm OCD. I had never heard of it. It totally described me:

 

Harm OCD is a manifestation of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in which an individual experiences intrusive, unwanted, distressing thoughts of causing harm. These harming thoughts are perceived as being ego-dystonic, which simply means that the thoughts are inconsistent with the individual’s values, beliefs and sense of self. Harming obsessions typically center around the belief that one must be absolutely certain that they are in control at all times in order to ensure that they are not responsible for a violent or otherwise fatal act. (Source: ocdla.com)

 

Here are some common intrusive thoughts experienced by those with Harm OCD:

 

  • I will suddenly snap and violently attack:
    • My significant other or ex
    • My child (especially common in Perinatal and Postpartum OCD)
    • My parent or other family member
    • My nephew/niece/godchild
    • A disabled or ill person
    • A baby
    • A friend
    • A stranger
  • I will fail to respond to disgusting violent or sexual thoughts appropriately and will reveal myself to be a monster.
  • I will suddenly have an uncontrollable urge to push someone into traffic, jump out a window, or experience some other impulse that will result in me being responsible for my death or someone else’s death.
  • I will be overwhelmed by harming obsessions and have to act on them to relieve the pressure
  • I will lose my sanity and commit suicide. (Source: ocdla.com)

 

Here is another definition and example:

 

This is a particularly disturbing OCD subtype as the person has thoughts, feelings and even urges of violence to themselves or others. They can be quite intense, and they often feel like they are on the verge of doing the violent act. They feel absolutely terrified much of the time. Many of them feel like killers and develop a personality that says they are a killer of some sort.

I’ve done therapy with a guy who was convinced he was a serial killer. Of course he’d never hurt a soul and he never would, but I could not convince him of that. The obsessions were powerful, continuous, and 24-7. They were so persistent and tenacious that he had given up all hope of resisting them. They had also become quite strong in that the illness was actually telling him or ordering him to commit the violence. (Source: robertlindsay.wordpress.com)

 

This morning, I told all of this to my psychiatrist. I’ve never seen him at a loss for words. He finally said, “You have to see a therapist before I see you again. Normal people don’t do things like that.”

Last week, one of my colleagues gave our family a hermit crab with the full aquarium/habitat and all sorts of accessories. My two sons were ecstatic at the idea of finally getting a pet. However, little did we know that hermit crabs were nocturnal, so we never saw the little guy; he was holed up in a wooden tunnel all the time.

As soon as I got the creature home, the raspy voice of my illness began whispering in my ear: Now’s your chance. The kids are already bored with it. Torture and kill it. Take it back to work and get rid of it. No one will ever know.

I did just that. I waited until late at night, and then I put the crab and shell into the water dish. It kept trying to climb out, so I held the crab under the surface for a solid minute. I pulled it out. No movement. Nothing.

It felt like I had just snorted a line of cocaine: Adrenaline raced through my body and made me feel invincible; all my worries were gone. I was in control!

After half an hour, I began to feel extremely guilty. Looking over at the aquarium where I had placed the crab under a tuft of moss inside the wooden tunnel, my heart began to ache.

Right before bed, I went over to the habitat in a corner of the living room, removed the tunnel and picked up the shell. The crab moved! Its legs flung out, and I supposed it was getting hungry.

I went to bed relieved, happy, and sad.

My doctor told me to get rid of the crab because I couldn’t be trusted with a pet in the house. I told him that the crab earned my respect for being so tough and surviving the attempted drowning.

He doubled my Lexapro and asked if I wanted to get some in-patient treatment.

For the first time since I’ve been seeing him, the doctor didn’t shake my hand; rather, he rushed out of the room, telling me goodbye over his shoulder. The door between the offices and the lobby were closed and locked immediately.

And I staggered out of the lobby with a handful of prescriptions, not knowing what to expect from myself.

I’m still terrified.

~t

(Photo by Topaz)


Hang On

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes my illness amazes me.

I was in church just yesterday for the first Sunday of Advent. It was a joyous Mass. I loved hearing about the prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament alluding to the day in the future when Christ would establish His Kingdom for all people.

I served afterward by helping my brother Knights of Columbus sell Advent wreaths in the narthex.

What a happy, faith-building day. I love Sundays because I can seek refuge for a few hours in the house of the Lord (a.k.a. the hospital for sinners).

But today (Monday) sucked. My doctor recently put me on Lamictal to stabilize my mood since the Gabapentin wasn’t helping, and suicidal ideation started to rear its ugly head again.

I’m sick and tired of being at the mercy of my emotions. It’s like Texas weather: In 30 minutes it goes from one extreme to the other in the blink of an eye.

The demons came again last night. It never fails. the closer I get to God, the stronger their offensive.

I had one of those dreams that seemed to last all night. My family and I were in a public place, like a shopping mall or a maze of connected warehouses, and I had prior knowledge of either a terrorist attack or a rampaging shooter attack.

I remember grabbing my two little sons and hoping that I could get them out of harm’s way. The worst part of it was that I had no idea when or where the attack would take place. It was like being forced to play a diabolical game-show version of Russian roulette.

In the morning, my wife said I was struggling and whimpering in my sleep for a good portion of the night.

After a hellish day at work, I came home and announced to my wife that I was going to skip dinner. I had no appetite whatsoever. I sat in our walk-in closet which doubles as my own personal chapel.

I prayed, I meditated, I read Scripture.

I can’t give up.

Getting no response from God, I sat there, massaging my temples with my eyes closed. Suddenly a slight feeling of hope entered my soul, as tiny as a grain of rice. That was all I needed, though.

I can’t not believe in God and His promises. When life drags me through a puddle of crap, it sure is comforting to know that there is a greater power waiting to rescue me and make me clean again.

Like the saying goes: When you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.

~t


Getting Routed in Battle

Credit: thequickbrownfox

Grief wants only sleep.

No more battling demons

unless you’re dream knight.

                                        —Sr. Helena Burns, FSP

I wanted to use Sister’s haiku as the epigraph to this post because it sums up everything that happened to me over this past weekend.

During my darkest moments on Saturday, it explained everything; that “Aha!” moment when everything fits into place like in the movie Monster when Charlize Theron’s character finally sees the big picture while talking on the pay phone in jail.

I received quite a number of encouraging messages on Twitter (Yes, I know they’re called tweets, but messages sounds better) this past weekend. No, it’s not because I’m so popular. It’s because I was a victim of an ambush.

As a soldier — all Christians are soldiers by the way — I found myself traveling along the battlefield called Earth without my sword and shield.

That’s pretty stupid, Topaz.

Yeah, you’re right. It was stupid. And careless.

Satan is the commander of the opposition forces, and they are legion. As you might recall from a previous post of mine, I believe that God has put it on my heart to start a recovery/accountability group at my parish that specifically deals with men who struggle with pornography.

Now, picture Al Capone’s crime syndicate in your mind. Well, if a small band of vigilantes were to try and expose a drug trafficking ring of theirs, um…

You can imagine the swift, deadly response. Those vigilantes had better be ready for a counterattack or else.

That was my situation this past weekend. As I stated, I have been (smugly) targeting Satan and his demons by attempting to create a program that would help men leave the bondage of a very destructive type of sin. Porn is such a lucrative moneymaker for the Dark One. My problem was, after announcing myself and my intentions to the enemy, like an idiot, I traveled around without my small band of warriors — heck, even without any weapons or defense.

I underestimated the enemy while overestimating my own faith and strength like a glory-seeker.

I was like, “Oh, look at me! Satan and his demons are gonna be running scared because I’m attacking his stronghold!”

The enemy is very intelligent and a master at guerrilla tactics.

I was driving along by myself this past Saturday when, from out of nowhere, I happened upon a certain temptation that hit me so hard, it was like getting struck with 50,000 volts from a Taser gun. My whole body went into shock, and I could no longer think straight. This all happened within an instant. I’m lucky that I didn’t have a car accident.

I won’t go into any more details, but it was akin to a recovering alcoholic who has been clean for several months and suddenly walks by a bar that is giving away free beer samples out front.

As you can imagine, the demons blindsided me, and I crumpled miserably. The rest of the day I was out of commission, ready to throw in the towel. Not just with the recovery group, but with the Church and my faith in general. I had fallen and couldn’t stand up. I was finished.

The next morning, instead of getting ready for 8:30 Mass, I was on the sofa, surfing the ‘net on my iPad. “Aren’t you going to church? You’ll be late,” my non-Catholic/non-Christian wife said.

“I’m not going today. It’s okay; no one will miss me.”

Do not underestimate petite Japanese women.

“You WILL go. Get. Up. Now.”

Maybe she knew that I needed some cheering up, or maybe she needed some time alone from my grumpiness. I didn’t ask, but I’d like to think that God was actually picking me up through her. God works in mysterious ways. We all know the cliché. He even works through individuals who don’t even believe in Him. Now that is amazing.

I didn’t want to be at Mass, but my Tiger Mother wife had forced me to go. I was miserable while I sneaked in during the Gospel reading and grabbed a seat in the very back. I remained in this emotional state until I uttered these words with the priest during Mass:

Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.

The floodgates were opened, and I couldn’t stop from crying my eyes out. The rest of my day was transformed. God had heard my pleading and worked a miracle!

For lunch, our kids wanted to go to McDonald’s to get more Despicable Me 2 Happy Meal toys (even though they haven’t seen either of the movies yet). By chance, some friends of mine happened to be there as well: a fellow Knight of Columbus and his wife, a strong Catholic who happens to be from Asia. I have always wanted my wife to have some quality time with her, but with their schedules, it was always impossible.

Although a different nationality from my friend, my wife was excited to talk with someone who was actually from the same continent (Yes, Asia is vast and diverse, but in a place like Texas, my wife gets excited when she sees anyone who resembles an Asian).

They had a great chat about God and Chinese cuisine, and I was able to spend some time with a fellow parishioner and Knight. Our kids were more than pleased because, thanks to the nice cashier, they ended up getting two Happy Meal toys each instead of one.

By the end of last summer, I was thankful to be alive. By the end of this past weekend, I was thankful to be standing on my own two feet, clad in shiny new armor of God that I truly didn’t deserve.

So:

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

Yeah, especially if you’re lobbing Molotov cocktails into his command center.

~t


St. Jude, Pray for Me

“It’s 10:00. Time to get off the computer,” my wife calls to me as she heads to the spare bedroom. It’s become her own bedroom recently. Not because we’ve been fighting. Actually, I’m not really sure why.

Ayako comes from a land far across the sea. It’s a land where I used to live. Seven years of my life, to be exact. One reason we moved back to the States after our two sons were born in Japan was because I was slowly going insane. I couldn’t handle life in such a tiny, crowded land anymore. I was fed up with everyone gawking at me like a caged zoo animal. Japan didn’t make me crazy, though. I already was.

“Yes, dear,” I reply, the sarcasm dripping from my lips like the cheap, sugary syrup we buy at Walmart. Asako knows that I can’t sleep at night, that I have nightmares; nightmares that cause me to awaken in the middle of the night, body and hair drenched in sweat, screaming in terror at the demons inside my mind. That’s one of the reasons she took over the spare bedroom and made it into her own little studio apartment.

I slam the magnetic cover of the iPad and toss it down beside me on the sofa. Well, now I have no excuse not to spend time with God before bed. That’s what I wanted, right? I barely succeed in convincing myself.

I grab my Bible and a small stack of holy cards, all of which were blessed by my parish priest, and head to my private chapel. It’s not as elegant as it sounds. It’s actually my, our, walk-in closet. I keep my plastic bottle of holy water on the top shelf, out of sight of my wife, and my gorgeous redwood crucifix with the silver corpus hangs above the doorway.

Ayako doesn’t mind. In fact, I always let her know that I’m going in to pray (meditate, as I call it) so that she knows not to bother me. Even though she’s lived in the U.S. for five years now, Ayako can’t quite grasp the concept of spontaneous prayer. I use meditate because she can at least use it as a reference point to her Buddhist upbringing.

I close the closet/chapel door and fall to my knees. Looking up at the crucifix, I quickly turn away, not worthy to gaze at the sterling silver body of Christ.

I’m such a failure. I’m such a screw-up.

I don’t attempt to utter anything to God. This is a time that I need the Holy Spirit to commune with my soul. In complete silence, I gaze down at the tan carpet, St. Jude staring at me from the pile of holy cards. He is the one I want, need, to talk to. Yes, Jesus can help me instead, but I feel a closeness to certain saints, especially Jude, the patron saint of hopeless cases.

Like me.

Eventually, as my legs become numb after sitting in Japanese seiza position for too long, I stretch out my legs and recite the prayer on the back of the card to St. Jude. I speak each word carefully, each syllable coming from deep within the well of my soul.

I had given up black metal and death metal the day before. My Internet cyber-buddies and our metal club were still around, but I was long gone, a cyber-ghost in the virtual clubhouse of my former Order. Music by bands such as Watain, Djevel, Cannibal Corpse, and Serial Butcher was still pounding through my buddies’ elaborate computer speakers. I didn’t hear any of it, though. The Holy Spirit was the only thing coursing through my mind and soul at the moment.

You did it.

I gave up Satanic music. No, I’m not talking about the Rolling Stones or Metallica; if you Google “satanic black metal bands,” you’ll see that I’m not just another religious right-wing nutjob. There really is Satanic music out there. And it appeals especially to lone introverts. Like me.

Satan didn’t unleash the wolves of Hell after me; he is much too sly for that. Instead, Satan gouged a hole in my heart, one reserved for loved ones who pass away too quickly or for sweethearts who leave too suddenly.

I never even met these people, I try to tell myself. In time I’ll get over it. That’s what Ayako tells me, too.

Feeling a little better, I look up the list of Apostles in the New Testament to see St. Jude’s name. It gives me comfort.

I go to the kitchen and pop two Xanax. I’m sure that the demons will visit me at some point tonight. The Xanax will help.

But Satan is smart: He will send the demons in the early hours of the morning, after the Xanax wears off.

~topaz