James Mangaliman

Faith rescues

By  James Mangaliman, Youth Speak News
  • August 29, 2014

Following a traumatic injury and several surgeries, a friend I had once known to be free-spirited came out of the hospital a different person. He was healed physically but, mentally, he was far from fine. He called me one night as I was working on a school assignment. All notions of a quick conversation dropped when his shaky voice collapsed into a cry for help.

His calls carried on late into the nights, when the world appears darker, quieter and lonelier. Though our almost nightly phone conversations carried on for more than five months, I could never fully understand the mental struggles that he described. Explicit thoughts of harm and suicide, physical bouts of hyperventilation — I was, for the most part, clueless about how to respond. Our conversations were often frozen in silence: he was expecting consoling words; I was shocked at the waking reality of a mental illness.

At night, harmful thoughts echo loudly against the hush of a sleepy world. When you are alone you become your own enemy. Sympathizing with this aspect, I suggested the only thing I knew that never failed to keep me from feeling lonely: an honest conversation with God. “You know what cheers me up at night, what distracts me from bad thoughts?” I asked him. “Thinking about the people that I have in my life and thanking God for blessing me with them.”

As Catholic students, prayer was an act of faith and a daily habit we both understood, yet never fully acknowledged as a source of happiness. Prayer allows us to reflect upon how we truly feel and communicate these feelings to a greater being. When it feels as if no one else is there for us, or that no one else understands how we feel, speaking to our loving God is emotionally fulfilling. Releasing the thoughts that trouble our soul is a form of catharsis. And the act of prayer brings us closer to the virtues of faith and hope.

For my friend, who was diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder, the ability to pray at night allowed him to focus on hopeful thoughts and overcome his emotional struggles. When I pray, I like to have a conversation with God, speaking freely without fear of judgment. I also give thanks for the people who make me smile. Though I pray aloud and it sounds (and sometimes feels) as if I am talking to myself, I receive this sense of fulfilment and security, like someone is watching over me. I am no longer alone.

When it comes to battling your own thoughts and emotions, feeling as if you are not alone empowers you to hold on, to survive. With friends and family on all sides and God above, you are never alone.

(Mangaliman, 18, is a first-year humanities student at the University of Toronto.) 

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