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HPPD'er becomes a Catholic priest (maybe spoiler)


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I recounted my story a couple years ago but now have finally been ordained a Catholic priest and so I would like to share it again. I will try not to make this too long…though I apologize in advance for the length. I first came to the old HPPD message board way back in Jan/Feb of 2001. I made some good friends there ( I remember Meth Lab, POGB and others) and my name was parisms. Helping to see I wasn’t alone was a first step in a long recovery. I did drugs since I was 12. I tripped, smoked up daily, shrooms, Special K, XTC, Dustoff, etc… One day in 1999 I drank a huge bottle of Robotussin and I had a horrible experience. After that all changed, I felt Depersonalization big time. All the anxieties I had when tripping remained! I felt so disconnected from my friends. When I smoked up I felt horrible, I knew my life had changed forever. Afterward I would have happy moments, but would also get panic attacks, anxiety due to tracers and unclear vision. Reading and looking at patterns always reminded me of my trips. I had to stop doing drugs, lest I wind up committed. Life was hard, I was with a girl but very insecure about her love and this killed me. We eventually broke up. I was lost, ready to end it all. I found the original HPPD messageboard and this helped, but I still thought “I am permanently damaged” and no use to try to live.

The worst effect for me was the lack of connection I felt with people whom I loved. I often felt “awkward” and would have a hard time in personal interaction and conversation. Even with my family I often could not have a relaxed time and was insecure. I tended to cycle. Then at times I felt wonderful and like nothing happened. My Grandfather had Bi Polar which probably was a bit latent in me and helped exacerbate things. If I got in a stressful social situation I would really clam up and my vision would get crazy and clouded too.

This led me to some deep questioning and in the process I decided that my last resort was that God must help me. I began to pray and my Mom told me to read the New Testament, especially the Gospel of St. Matthew. The person of Jesus fascinated me and his message seemed so true and would strike me deeply. I began to pray everyday using the Bible and some Christian music my Mom also had and this gave me a peace and joy that I thought was forever lost. Most of all it gave me a hope that maybe living for God could be possible and he would heal me. The real test came when I saw that I had to try to stop seriously sinning as well, this was very difficult but I would ask God for help and the temptation would slowly go away. Afterwards I would feel a peace and joy from not giving in that surpassed any pleasure I had received from sin in the past. All this emphasis on feelings is due to the fact that I thrived and grew up on getting high. God worked with me on this and even used past experiences of drugs as a reference point to what a relationship with him could do. Most of all I began to see meaning in my suffering, I saw that Jesus Christ suffered the most out of anyone and it was that suffering which saved the human race. I saw that he could take my wounds and use them for great things. No wound is too deep to not be transformed when it is given over to God.

Soon I really found comfort in prayer and even when I didn’t feel like doing it I would force myself and in this way build up habit and character. I came to see new worth in myself. I was not permanently damaged just from HPPD…I WAS ALREADY! We are all damaged and broken and HPPD just makes it a little more apparent. The lie that everything was good before HPPD was just that, a lie. Sin is a sickness and it breaks people apart, even without drugs. When you are being spiritually healed, all physical/ emotional/spiritual problems can be transformed into sources of life for yourself and others, even if they are not completely taken away. If it was not for HPPD I would never have seen this. I began to go to Mass again and went to confession for the first time. To be forgiven is like nothing else. I still felt the bad effects at times, but I would stop focusing on them and focus more on how to live and love others. Daily meditation with Scripture in God’s presence was essential for this, without daily prayer I would be lost. When I began working with Mother Theresa’s sisters and hanging out with the poor I again found freedom. HPPD and depression wants to lock you in on yourself, while prayer and loving others and looking to their needs helps you see that it is not as bad as you think. I even got to a point where I totally forgot about HPPD and what it was.

Anyways after a couple years I felt like maybe God wanted me to devote my life to him in a special way as a Catholic priest. I began meeting with another Priest who was a wise and holy man and I came to see that God was calling me there. Why? Who knows… but at times I think it is to show the world and myself that God’s power is so great that he can take a broken young man from the brink of despair and death to use him as an instrument of healing and peace. I was in seminary school for 8 years and this past June I was ordained a priest. I have done things I never thought possible, gone to foreign countries, met the most amazing people, and I learned how to be normally social again (well relatively speaking, lol)..and guess what? I still feel DP at times, I also have tracers, see patterns…I also notice the effects of drugs in other areas, but now I see they are my wounds and, since given to Jesus, have saved me from something much greater than the damage they caused. It is funny but personal relationships are seen as strong points by others as one of my gifts, even though this was what I felt was most damaged by my HPPD.

So I may be the first Catholic Priest with HPPD…or maybe not :-). One funny thing; I was privileged to be able to serve Mass with Pope Benedict XVI a while back. I carried his Mitre (big hat) during the Ceremony and was in very close proximity to him. When I was up there I thought about you all and where I had been in my life and how God brought me from my little room up all night scared and despairing to where I would be in front of 50,000 people serving Mass with the Pope himself! Life in Christ produces a greater trip than any psychedelic drug can do!

If you want to see what it looks like for an HPPD kid to be ordained a priest, check out this 2 minute video they made on the ordination ceremony. I am the younger skinny guy at the end of the row:

Sorry this was so long, it could have been 20 pages. Please realize that all of it is written with a knowledge of my human poverty and a confidence that it is never worth it to give up hope. I really was ready to call it quits 10 years ago, but what regret I would have felt when I saw what could have been. Know that I love you all and pray for you and if I can be of any assistance please let me know. <br style=""> <br style="">

Peace to you,


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Very cool story! I have had a similar experience with my HPPD pushing me in a "spiritual" direction as well. I became interested in Shin Buddhism, which is very similar to Christianity at it's most subtle levels. I went to Chicago a few times to a temple there (a 2 hour drive) and soon realized a more local form of Buddhism might work out better. I started attending meditation groups around my town out of desperation and met a Buddhist monk (two actually) that became my primary teacher. I learned a great deal from him about how my own mind creates most of my suffering. I also had several Zen type awakening experiences (to the nature of Consciousness) while in his presence, and eventually moved in (almost by accident) with a guy who ran a meditation center out of his house. The monk stayed there for a couple of months out of the year giving me some very unique and cool experiences with him. I eventually became a Buddhist, taking lay ordination from another Zen monk who ran a temple nearby and was the brother monk of my main teacher. I received my Buddhist name from him and he became my Dharma teacher. I also seriously considered becoming a novice monk for a while, and traveling with my teacher. Then I met a girl.... that's another story....lol.

I was good for a while. Then everything fell apart again. Re-cycled through the "I'm permanently F-ed up" crap again, complete with panic attacks, worsening symptoms, ect. I delved back into "spiritual" things, this time into Advaita Vedanta (and corresponded with a "Guru" of sorts to help me verify the awakening experiences I had and how to integrate them), and Shin Buddhism, coming full circle in my spiritual path but this time with the realization of the need for Compassion and Forgiveness in my own life and in my own experience. Wisdom without compassion is not real wisdom. Each brings the other about. I had become a very hard-hearted and angry person. And the same force I called out to in the depths of my despair pulled me through all of this. Not that it caused me to suffer- I did that myself- it transformed the scars of that suffering into a deepening of my humanity and a way to understand others. I realize now that from that first calling all the way to my kensho (awakening) experiences, back to intense suffering, and out again- I was "grasped, never to be abandoned" by this compassionate, salvific force. Whether you want to call that Jesus or Amida Buddha it really doesn't matter to me.

Long story shorter- HPPD has brought me to a depth of compassion with other human beings that I don't think anything else could. Not "being nice to people", but real understanding of suffering and a shared connection and outflowing of goodwill towards others. I think this is really the end of it. What else in life could mean more than to have that connection with another human being?

I find your story to be very inspiring, not because you "found Jesus", but because you found yourself... and what is important to you in your life. And you found it through HPPD.

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Hey WuWei, thanks very much for sharing. That too is very inspiring and humbling to read. I truly appreciate your perspective and how beautiful it is that you also learned meaning in your suffering and how to have it transformed into a unique ability to be aware of a higher reality and also to be able to be in solidarity with others who are experiencing it. It shows too just how we probably will never be at a point where we have "made it", the despair can be right around the corner at times and that is why we must be seeking that saving hand which will not abandon us, every day in our prayer. I think for people like us there is no real turning back, we either give our everything to that Love which we have discovered or we will lose it. At times this can be frustrating because there is a desire to kind of live a normal life like other people, but in the end I feel it is one of the greatest "gifts" HPPD gave me!

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Thanks for your reply father, I'm glad to see you are open to the fact that the Love comes in many names and faces. I hope someday that Love envelopes me so much that there will be no one left over with HPPD. Only the Love.

I hope we can dialog in the future, feel free to send me a PM anytime.


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