Ever since my manic episode, I’ve been too afraid to go back to church.
During that time, I suffered from religious delusions. Because I was psychotic, I wholeheartedly believed that these were in fact real and that I needed to share them with the world. I’m so embarrassed just thinking about it, but I suppose I shouldn’t feel ashamed about being sick (and I was very, very sick).
I contacted various priests and tried to tell them what was happening. None of them knew quite what to do with me. To be fair, they are not qualified mental health professionals, so I shouldn’t blame them for treating me with disregard. A little love and compassion (and simply listening to me, even if I was spouting gibberish) might have gone a long way, but I guess I was acting too wildly to allow for that to happen. Regardless, all that really occurred was that I made a complete fool of myself and showed anger toward several men who didn’t deserve it. Looking back, I’m so terribly ashamed about this.
I still pray. Every day, I pray and I ask for God’s forgiveness and help. But for whatever reason, I can’t seem to get myself back to church. Perhaps it’s still too traumatic of a reminder of how sick I was that keeps me from walking through those doors. I’m afraid, but I can’t really figure out why. I know logically that nothing will happen if I were to go inside, except I might find a little bit of sorely needed grace. But I just can’t make myself do it.
I tried to. Yesterday, I made it all the way to the parking lot of a new church – one that I’ve never been to. Before I even got in my car, my anxiety started to swell and I became a nervous wreck, which kind of defeats the purpose of going to church to feel better. But I wanted to overcome this fear, to stare it in the face and beat it. So I forced myself to go.
Once I arrived, I sat for a few minutes in my car. I watched everyone as they walked in. Everyone looked so normal, happy even – and this made my anxiety worse. Here I was, a depressed and quite miserable mess of a human being, dejected by life’s circumstances and desperate for some sort of hope in my future; I didn’t fit in with these happy people.
To make matters worse, as I contemplated the differences in demeanor between myself and those walking into the church, I accidentally hit the panic button on my car keys and my horn started honking wildly. I didn’t know how to stop it, so for a good full minute or two I desperately pushed buttons and started the car’s ignition while the car continued honking as everyone passed by.
I was mortified.
Finally, I don’t know how but I got the honking to stop. By that time my nerves were completely shot, and I realized I had no courage left so I started the car and drove back home.
I’m not upset that I didn’t actually go to mass. I’m glad that I tried. And to be honest, I think it’s kind of funny that both myself and my car had a panic attack in the church parking lot. I’m pretty sure the heavens were laughing at me at that point.
I hope one day I’ll be able to face my fears and go back, but until then I’m gonna give myself a spiritual break and remind myself that I’m doing the absolute best that I can do, and for right now, that’s quite enough. I’m pretty sure that God knows that I’m trying.