I am a Third Order Carmelite for 17 years, a Charismatic for 15 years and have walked in the Neocatechumenal Way for about 14+ years.. I have suffered from major depression and Psychosis for about 24+ years. It started after I turned my life back to God.
My life was on a spiral downhill before turning back to God. I suffered through four abortions, with the last one the hardest and most heart wrenching of them all. It was then that I made a promise to God that if I ever got pregnant again I would have that baby no matter what. I wanted to turn my life around. I was still a big sinner and decided that in order for me to honor God more, I needed to be more like Jesus. So, I read the bible cover to cover. Six months later, when I found out I was pregnant out of wedlock again, I decided that no matter what happened to me, I would have the baby.
The schizophrenic like episodes started a year and a half after I gave birth. First, I was given the grace before my episodes began to feel ‘Fear of the Lord’ for three days. So I knew this was spiritual and to stay close to God because I would rather be on God’s side than be without him.
What I went through was horrific. I would not want my worst enemy to go through the nightmarish time I went through, which was like living in hell. Each episode was demonic in that the evil voices that tortured my mind insisted that God hated me. During one episode, they told me that I offended the Holy Spirit and that there was no way out, I was going to hell. It was then that I decided that I would do everything I can to stay out of hell because I sure did not want to suffer hell for all eternity (which is a very long time) and which I felt I was experiencing. God gave me clues that the voices were lying to me and not to believe them. Another time they told me people were after me and I was going to be killed if I went to confession. But I went to confession anyway and was not killed — another clue that they were lying. And this gave me strength to trust God more.
During these years, every sin I ever committed was brought before my eyes and I was ridiculed, humiliated and degraded by the voices. Each episode started by the voices lying to me and making me believe outlandish and grandiose ideas and then I was made fun of and ridiculed, laughed at and despised by the voices when I chose not to believe them any longer. For the first ten years, they didn’t let up. They were there when I was awake or in my dreams when I tried to sleep, even while on medication. The only thing that made the voices stop was being pray over in front of a tabernacle, and eventually hospitalization with medication, but the nightmares were always there. I knew my illness was both physical, because the medication helped me and spiritual because of what the voices were saying.
After my mind came back to reality, it would take me about a year to sort out reality from nonsense through counseling, and by reading the bible because most of what they said were lies against God. The first two episodes were the darkest because I didn’t know what was going on. This never happened to me before or anyone in my family. I knew the voices were demonic because they wanted me to take off my Carmelite Scapular and because they lied to me about God hating me. The voices tried to kill me by telling me not to drink water as a penance for almost a week. I finally gave in and drank water but the voices got very angry at me and tortured my mind even more with taunts and by ridicule. I knew I had to go to confession and I went to confession sometimes daily and even twice a day if I felt I had to. Even reading the bible was horrific sometimes; sometimes I opened the bible to pray or read and I would be flooded with perverse thoughts. I learned that all the little sins that the evil voices were throwing in my face were sins I committed against God. By confessing these sins to a priest and receiving absolution, I was cleansing myself of that evil in me and I found that those sins were not brought up again by the voices. Another clue that God was helping me when I went to confession.
I started to go to daily mass and through talking with other parishioners and by trying to understand my Catholic faith, which I felt so far away from, I was beginning to learn more about the saints and catholic beliefs. I learned about St. Michael and St. Joseph, the terror of demons and the power of saying a Hail Mary, the rosary and the power of prayer through my acquaintances at church. I also learned the power of the name of Jesus and how at Jesus’ name and the Body of Christ, the voices were afraid. During the first 10 years, I sought help to fight the demons but found no one to help, not even a priest to understand me. Everyone thought it was purely a mental illness. But the counseling from the priests during confession was priceless. They encouraged me not to give up.
This may seem bad, but looking back it caused me to read a lot about the saints and the Catholic Church and about prayer. I knew God was helping me, but I wasn’t quite sure how he was helping me other than I knew not to give up hope. To do this, I would recall my earlier closeness with God as a teenager and some of His promises I kept in my heart. Also, once when Fr. Zachery Monet, an older Carmelite priest, blessed me with the relic of the true cross, during the blessing I was ‘zapped’ with energy as I kissed the relic.
The blessing gave me courage to not give up hope in God and I knew instinctively that He was my saving grace. God had given me the grace to feel his presence even in my darkest hours when praying and reading the bible and by this blessing. There was one time I went to confession and confessed something I couldn’t tell anyone because it hurt so much for what I had done. Before, during and after confession, I was crying. When I got home I was still crying but this time with relief because I received absolution and forgiveness and at that moment, when saying “Thank You” to God, I felt divine peace cover me slowly from head to toe. It was then that I knew without a shadow of doubt not to give up and to trust in God 100% no matter how black things looked.
Ten years into the nightmares and voices, on May 1st, I prayed to St. Joseph on my knees at my church and told him I couldn’t take it any more I was giving up. That night, my nightmares abated and a little while later, through one of my church acquaintances, I was introduced to my current Third Order Carmelite Community. There I found a saint who believed me when I told them I thought the voices and nightmares were demonic and that I needed help.
The person I told had exorcised blessed holy water on her (which is a specifically blessed water that casts demons away) and she put some on me. Do you know for the first time in 10 years I had no nightmares and slept soundly for about a month……..then the nightmares came back full force. I went back to the Third Order Carmelites and sought out the person who gave me the water and asked her what I needed to do and where I can get some of the exorcised blessed holy water to keep with me. She did. I learned about the Liturgy of the Hours an found great joy in reading them twice a day. I knew God was calling me. The Psalms spoke to my heart and to my affliction. From the Four-Week Psalter, Week I, Tuesday Morning, it said of the Canticle of Tobit, “God afflicts but only to be healed.”
In Chapter 13, v 1-8 of Tobit it states, “Blessed be God who lives forever, because his kingdom lasts for all ages. For he scourges and then has mercy; he casts down to the depths of the nether world, and he brings up from the great abyss. No one can escape his hand. Praise him, you Israelites, before the Gentiles, for though he has scattered you among them, he had shown you his greatness even there. … He scourges you for your iniquities, but will again have mercy on you all. …. When you turn back to him with all your heart, to do what is right before him, then he will turn back to you, and no longer hide his face from you.”
This spoke deeply to my heart. I knew I was being disciplined by the Lord and knew I had to turn back to him with my whole heart.
I learned about the power of prayer; especially Spiritual Warfare Prayer and about Ephesian 6:10-17 which talks about putting on the Armor of God. Ephesian 6:10-17 says:
“Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Little did I know, I was using faith and hope and the word of God as my defense. With this new found knowledge, little by little over the next 10 years I was cleansing myself of the demonic oppressive spirits through spiritual warfare and self-deliverance prayers, confession, being prayed over by priests and laymen and laywomen, weekly Eucharistic Adoration and reading books, especially “Unbound” by Neal Lozano and attending his workshop and by reading the book “The Healing of Families: How to Pray Effectively for Those Stubborn Personal and Familial Problems”, by Fr. Yozefu – B – Ssemakula and doing his suggested prayers. I also gave up TV/Cable 100 % because I couldn’t hear God very well with all the distractions and misguidance of TV and movies. I couldn’t watch shows anymore that were in conflict to what I was learning God wanted of me.
During this time, I also learned what I had done to offend God so much to bring this on. One day, I was on line to go to confession and I saw an apparition of The Blessed Virgin Mary as the Miraculous Mary and into my head came the thought, “I made a pact with the devil,” which I soon confessed. And she was right, I remember it well. I said a prayer that I never should have said about 10 years earlier. I didn’t realize how offensive the prayer was until after I finished praying it; I felt blasphemy come over my mouth and saw a face with red eyes come in front of my face and I knew I did something wrong but didn’t know what until this very moment. [Ignorance is not bliss] The devil and the demons were having a field day with me. But through confession, deliverance prayers and correcting and making reparation for the wrongs I had done and by turning my life back on the road to God’s way of thinking instead of my own and radically imitating Jesus Christ in my life and really meaning it, I found peace and a way to say I was sorry to God and really believe that God and his holy angels forgave me.
Perseverance and the fight to not give up by telling myself over and over again that one day there will be a light at the end of the tunnel was my only hope. I currently have come to a place in my life where I understand and accept God’s discipline and cherish the moments I adore my God now without bad dreams and with peace and quiet. Through the help of my doctors, the right medication, vitamins, spiritual director, family and friends, I can unequivocally say that God was with me through it all and guiding me. Even through the bad times God was calling me and spurring me forward. He gave me moments of consolation and moments of divine peace enough so that I knew to not give up. I even saw angels several times to encourage me along the way. I kept remembering the passage from the bible that states “God disciples those he loves.”
Over the years, I found that God had been calling me to a deeper relationship with Him. I found that God had been healing me through the psalms and my reading the bible, my doctors, spiritual direction, medication and vitamins. My biggest healing took place interiorly, in my heart, through God’s call. God had been my best counselor, advocate and friend through reading the psalms and the bible and saying the “Jesus Prayer” (“Jesus, son of David have mercy on me”) over and over again. During those years I read the bible cover to cover three times like a book, then went back to read those stories that gave me the most strength and consolation. And I became more active at my church, I am a Third Order Carmelite and was baptized in the Holy Spirit through the Charismatic Renewal (several times). And I walk in the Neocatechumenal Way with my community.
After seeing a vision of St. Michael, who showed me to go to Eucharistic Adoration, I started to go to an hour of Eucharistic Adoration once a week and just sit and pray quietly in front of God. After allowing God to be in charge, four years after I started these holy hours I saw a huge Angel with a Eucharist in his hands during a First Friday Healing Mass. On the following Saturday, a voice spoke to me and told me what I needed to do to be healed during Eucharistic Adoration. And when I did what he told me to do, I was healed through the deepest love I ever felt from one of my sufferings. The one that was the most painful and humiliating and lasted over 20 years. The feeling of love lasted for over three months.
God has been so amazingly kind and merciful. As a way to express my feelings and thoughts I have written prayers in a form of poetry that reflect what I was facing during one of my episodes, and what brought me through it. I found that during the bleakest and darkest times, God was still there with me. Even when I may have thought all was lost. . . I wasn’t. I could not have pulled out of the messes of my life, which were many, without God and Mary, my Holy Mother, and St. Joseph by my side.
I was able to come out of major depression and work on deliverance from oppression by evil spirits by reading the bible, praying the Liturgy of the Hours, Eucharistic Adoration, walking as a true Third Order Carmelite, walking in the Neocatechumenal Way, walking as a true Catholic, going to daily mass, going to confession often, doing away with TV/cable and believing that the only way to walk in life was to “radically” imitate Christ, listening to spiritually inspiring music like Star 99.1, and Catholic Radio shows, praying: the Rosary, St. Michael’s prayer and divine mercy chaplet and spiritual warfare prayers, wearing a Carmelite Scapular, wearing a cross and blessed medals (the St. Benedict and Miraculous Mary medals and others) having a continual conversation with God and by trusting in the mercy and compassion of God completely 100% (and not necessarily in that order).
I came to realize that what I was going through was too big for me to do on my own. The only one I knew who was big enough was God. So, in my heart, I turned to the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit and with blind trust, gave myself to God during Eucharistic Adoration. I gave my life to God for Him to do with as He saw fit . . . giving Him control of my life, as the Captain and Leader, instead of me trying to do everything myself. . . like the “Little Red Hen” (from a nursery rhyme that I heard in my youth).
This was not easy and it took years for me to finally trust God enough to totally give Him control. As you will see from “The Biggest Hurdle,” it was through sweat and tears. As God pruned the dead branches from my vines, it hurt! But, as I got over the hurt and looked to the lessons learned, I found that I grew stronger each time. It was amazing and a miracle. Like in the prayer “Lost and Found” it was one step forward, two steps back that brought me to God and to today. As a little girl, my Grandmother once told me to learn something good from everything, even bad events because God would be teaching me. And that wisdom stuck with me.
I know that no one is perfect and some, like me, even have hidden skeletons in their closets. We are afraid to show anyone these skeletons….even God. It is when I let these hidden secrets out and was finally honest with God and myself in the form of confession to a priest, who can absolve sin, and sought to do what is right that I started to heal (in leaps and bounds sometimes).
God was willing to do the impossible to save my soul. And He can do that for you too. Through turning away from sin and trusting unequivocally in God’s mercy through confession to a priest we can know the mercy of God through true forgiveness, freedom and healing in our hearts and souls. And by reading and studying the bible to understand who God is and what he is calling us to do. I hope you find my prayers/poems helpful to you. As a reminder, God’s love is waiting for you. . . waiting for you to let Him into your heart….so don’t delay, let Him in. Trust and love God with all your heart and never, never give up hope.