Note – This post discusses prayer as 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.
I went to Mass regularly for most of my life, yet I didn’t stay until the end. I occasionally left after Communion because I was in a hurry to be someplace else. The Mass had become routine. I went through the motions of going. It was boring. It wasn’t a check-off-the-box, as I wanted to go, but I wasn’t fully present either. I recited prayers without letting the words soak into my heart and mind.
From the depths of my frustration, I often cursed God impromptu several times throughout 2018 and 2019. Prayers of thanksgiving were dry and stale. I prayed for hope and greater faith. I often concluded my prayers by telling God I loved Him, and He replied that he loved me too.
My prayer life began to gradually change from mostly speaking to listening as I hoped to calm the voices inside my head. I turned the radio off in the car and drove in silence. I read Scripture more slowly. By early 2020, I was comfortable sitting in silence for thirty minutes or more. I prayed the Rosary slowly and stopped after ten beads to be still and listen. I looked forward to daily Mass and the Eucharist I received.
Communion became a tremendous source of healing for me. Immediately upon receiving the bread and letting it slowly dissolve in the roof of my mouth, peace and joy swelled within me. Fears, evil thoughts, and anxiety washed away. This healing sustained me for a long time, and I noticed this peace lasted longer the more I believed it would last. Evil thoughts still came, but if I believed in the power and authority of the Word and the power of the Eucharist, they quickly fled. As soon as I asked for joy in Jesus’ name, or ate the Eucharist, joy came.
I remember discussing this with one of my doctors. I said my body still triggered too early for my liking. But the early warning prompted me to pray for joy, and immediately upon asking for it, it came.
I prayed throughout the day, but it wasn’t without ceasing. I often asked God to completely defeat the evil thoughts and heal my bodily pains. I was tired of having to constantly talk to Him. I wanted to get on with my life. I wanted to return to a normal train of thought without always asking for help.
Hope, faith, and charity sustained me when alone or with others. But I was tired. I wanted all bad thoughts to stop sticking, lingering, and attacking when my defenses became complacent. I still woke up after three hours with a nightmare. I only slept if I took a full sedative. Even with sedatives, I woke after three hours with some level of night terrors, but I quickly dozed back to sleep. Fortunately, the charismatic church group invited me to a retreat at the Trinity Center in Pine Knoll Shores, North Carolina.
There was singing, testimonials, and speaking in tongues. I slept through the nights without using a sedative. No night terrors came. I noticed the pattern of my sleep habits—I slept well when at the yurt or after an intimate experience with Jesus. Being away from the terror of my bed wasn’t the solution because I hadn’t slept well at my parent’s house or on the military base. A therapist recognized this pattern too and said there needed to be a more sustainable solution.
I didn’t know what the solution was, but I hoped and prayed for healing. The first night of the retreat, I experienced a higher vibration of energy similar to the pineal gland meditation. Though my feet were planted on the ground as the group sang and prayed, the presence of the moment lifted me into a higher state.
Like much of this journey, I wasn’t expecting this prayer experience, but I accepted it as a gift. I didn’t expect the revelation I had on a slow walk before dawn the next morning on the beach. Nor did I expect the invitation from a retreatant to participate in an Unbound Prayer workshop when I returned to Raleigh.