Note – This post discusses an out-of-body experience and Baptisms in the Holy Spirit. These stories are part of my mental health story from 2018 to 2020 and may trigger unwanted thoughts or emotions in those that have suffered traumas. This post is part of a story told chronologically.
Since the first nightmare in October 2018, I tried various approaches to ending the homicidal thoughts. I doubled down on some techniques after the suicidal night. Moreover, I stopped taking all drugs—probably not the wisest move, ripping the band-aid off completely without letting the wound heal slowly. However, I assumed the drugs may have triggered suicidal thoughts.
I sought to get out of my head and instead focus on others. I volunteered at the Durham VA chapel, Urban Ministries of Wake County, Oak City Cares in Raleigh and Reality Ministries in Durham. I had been praying and considering how to volunteer with the prison ministry. When I randomly met a guy while volunteering in a food pantry and learning that he led a Kairos retreat for the Raleigh prison, I thought God was giving me a sign.
I read many books and took online classes, hoping to understand what was going on inside my head. I avoided the news in all formats because it was so depressing. If I read or heard about suicide, I immediately triggered. Even Christian radio was too loud for me. I drove without the radio on to hopefully sever evil voices that seemingly clung to noise. If I wasn’t completely immersed in a song that I was singing, the radio was off. In the silence, I prayed the Rosary or recalled Isaiah 65:17 and 43:1-2.
It was something about driving—I don’t know why—but unwanted, intrusive thoughts intensified in the car. Everyone was a target. If anyone was on a sidewalk, voices told me I could hurt or kill them. Other voices told me to do it.
In addition to reciting Christian prayers, or readings from Scripture, I tried meditation to calm my mind and body. Specifically, I tried body scans and yoga Nidra, usually before or after prayer as I remembered friends’ warnings about the occult.
Was meditation and yoga Nidra from the occult? Was my dreamcatcher I had bought two decades earlier and hanging in my house something from the occult? Was the peacock mask I had bought while in Sri Lanka something from the occult? I probably would’ve said no in a normal state of mind, but my mind was mush. In a panic, I threw those objects away. Fortunately, when I came to an object a friend had gifted me, I said no. I kept it.
A week after the dream where I was walking through fire, I woke up and went to my couch. I wasn’t falling asleep, so I practiced yoga Nidra. As I was somewhere between the conscious and subconscious realms, a heavy and cold force pulled me up. I lightened some as I felt my soul being taken from my body, but the feeling was dark. When I came to clearer consciousness, I catapulted from the couch, and yelled, “F*** No.” I took the comforter, marched upstairs, and sat beside my bed.
Maybe I was hallucinating. I didn’t know, but later in the week after visiting a WWII veteran in Aberdeen, North Carolina, I saw a man that looked strange or distorted to me. As two roads were merging into one, this guy in a tank top in a large truck barreling down the road flipped me off. The closer his truck got to mine, I noticed his bald head, beard, and gangly teeth. Then he laughed and pointed at me.
I thought this experience was real, but the man fit the description of a character from the Mad Max movies. Maybe I was mad, I thought. I drove home safely, then wrote the experience in my journal, something I assumed I would discuss during my next therapy session.
We had discussed spiritual warfare during several sessions, and my experiences certainly reminded me of warfare. I desperately wanted the battles to end. Maybe that’s why I tried different approaches. I prayed for courage. During the therapy session, I recalled what a doctor had asked me during a visit. “Would you have gone through this had you known the path?” asked the doctor. “No,” I said adamantly. “God knows that too,” said the doctor.
I also prayed for patience. Padre had told me in a light-hearted way, “Normally, when we pray for patience, God grants it to us.” When I thought about this, during moments when I was asked to endure, I laughed. But it sucked. I tried sitting in silence and praying, but this silence became suffocating. Maybe I wasn’t practicing enough. My faith was weak. There you go again, a voice told me, beating yourself up. Be kind to yourself, another voice said.
My energy levels were near zero, and half the day I didn’t know what was real—so much was distorted, and I felt formless. My mind and body were disassociated from reality. Reality was happening in one world, but I was in another world that was some distance away. One test came, then another came, then maybe a short break. Throughout the battles, fears hung over my mind like a dark cloud.
As a Catholic, I was baptized as an infant, and later I was confirmed in the Holy Spirit. When my therapist asked if I was open to being baptized in the Holy Spirit, I said yes. However, I didn’t know what to expect. I walked into the church on a Tuesday afternoon, and told the lady at the front desk I was there for healing. No appointments were necessary. A man told me to complete forms, then sit and wait for someone to get me. Two older women pleasantly welcomed me and asked me to follow them to a room inside the church.
I sat in a chair, and they sat in chairs in front of me. With this arrangement, I immediately thought of an interview I did for a special forces’ military job. Several men and women had sat in chairs near me and peppered me with questions for nearly ninety minutes.
This didn’t start as intense, but the intensity rose to a climax. I shared my story. They talked to each other, then asked me if anyone had prayed over me in tongues. As I said no, voices mocked the pending experience, saying it wouldn’t work. I snickered in my head but went along with it.
The women alternated reading from different Scripture verses. With rising intensity in their voices, they spoke with authority and commanded evil spirits to leave me. They placed hands on my head and spoke in English, then switched to tongues. My initial skepticism faded as warmth surged in my chest as the women proclaimed parts of Ephesians 6: 10-20 over me. Rather than tightening, my chest relaxed as something came across my breasts and locked near my heart. The fastening reminded me of body armor.
When finished, they handed me a list of Scripture passages that proclaimed Christ’s healing power and authority. They advised me to pray these with boldness and confidence during times of trouble. Days later I went to another church for additional healing. I didn’t have the same level of experience, but I was thankful that they prayed over me.
As the summer continued, I sought additional healings, and I’ll share those details in next week’s post.