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A Hail Mary cry for help | Everyday Miracles

Keith Diaz

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
The early summer sun shone on my face through the window of my 26th-floor condominium in downtown Toronto, as I looked down at the pavement below. The pedestrians walking on the sidewalk and crossing the street looked like pieces on a game board. My heart was beating in my ears, for I was finally tasting salvation.
I looked down at the pavement and imagined myself free falling to my death.
How did I get here?
I had grown up such a happy kid, and though I recall moments of depression when we would come home from a splendid family vacation or when I would get stressed during midterm season in university, I never thought I would become suicidal.
In 2017, I had just graduated from university and had started working at a bank. This was what I had been working toward, ever since the seeds were planted in my young mind that climbing the corporate ladder was my life’s calling. It seemed as if God had lined everything up perfectly according to my greedy satisfaction, only for it all to come crashing down.
Two months into the job, I found myself extremely bored and spiraling through an existential crisis, pondering the purpose of my life as I sat at my desk. At home, my parents were noticing the changes in my behaviour, and thinking that the daily commute from Oshawa to downtown Toronto and back was getting too much for me, my dad helped me rent a condo downtown, literally steps away from my office building.
Okay, now I’ll feel better, I thought.
In fact, it only made things worse. I couldn’t sleep. I stopped going to work. The only time I ever got out of bed was to eat, in the hopes of feeling anything at all, and to pace around my condo frantically, headed nowhere but back to bed. Most of my days were spent in a dreadful stupor, accentuated by periods in which I would scream and bang my fists on the wall, angry at God for leaving me at such a tragic dead end.
One afternoon, my dad asked me to come with him so we could see a doctor about what was happening to me. I refused.
After a few weeks, he came back to ask me a second time: “Son, please come and see a doctor with me.”
For the second time, I refused. However, I had already been pondering the fact that just a few days ago, I had thought about jumping out of my window to die on impact 26 floors below.
My dad refused to surrender and asked me again: “Please, son… at least do it for me.”
I gave in, and that evening we drove to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, where the doctor diagnosed me as severely depressed, anxious, and suicidal. For a lack of anything better I could think of doing, I acquiesced, assuming that I’d stay there for only a night and then return to my depression cave back home.
I stayed at the hospital for a week.
But something happened that first night.
My mom came with some clothes and toiletries from home, and after saying good-bye to my family and getting my vitals checked by one of the nurses, I was led into my own room. I got into bed, and as I lay in the dark, looking up at the ceiling, I couldn’t help but notice how silent it was. There still were sounds around me, and in fact, these sounds scared me. Across the hall I could hear another patient screaming and some nurses trying to calm him down. But in my own head, there was silence.
That was when it hit me. What I had, heretofore, only watched in movies, I was living in real life. It was official: I, Keith Diaz, always the happy kid, constantly striving to be the star student, and every time trying so hard to be the life of the party, had become a patient at a mental health hospital. Psychosis unit. 4th floor.
How did I get here?
Oh, right, I had thought about killing myself. I had really considered it. Wanted it, actually, more than anything else.
Lying there, on that hospital bed, a thought came to mind: Pray.
I had stopped going to Mass on Sundays, and for months I had stopped praying altogether. Do I even remember how to pray?
I started saying in my head the first prayer that came to mind: “Hail… Mary… full of grace….,” the words coming back to me as if each one was wrapped delicately and placed on a silver platter. As if each word was a petal on a rose, velvety smooth on the tips of my fingers.
And then, it happened.
My senses, once dead and idle, started to reawaken. I could hear things more clearly. And I could think more clearly, too, my thoughts becoming more in tune with reality.
“What’s happening right now?” I wondered. “How am I even thinking so calmly right now?”
After enduring what seemed to be an unending and numbing despair all those months, I found myself looking forward to something. I started hoping. And slightly, just ever so slightly, the corners of my mouth started to lift.
What was I looking forward to, exactly?
Now smiling peacefully, I was looking forward to finally being saved.
All I needed to do was ask for help.
Now, I practise turning over every thought to Mama Mary so that she may purify them and reveal the subtle voice of God within even the temptations. It is quite astounding how, as an actual person and not just an idea or a myth, she has never, ever left me to face my problems alone. Sometimes I wonder how long this will last for, until I have to find yet another thing to hold on to, yet our Tradition and the countless testimonies of the saints tell of her constancy, primarily due to her sublime unity with God. She truly is the Great Mother of God, and as He became man, she always proves to be a Mother for each of us too.

Today, Keith Diaz is a re:gen Chastity Missionary with the Archdiocese of Toronto’s Office of Catholic Youth. After spending a week in the hospital, he was welcomed back to work by his gracious colleagues. After spending one more year at the bank, Keith resigned in 2019 to dedicate more time listening to God’s voice. Every day, and every moment, Keith tries to turn his attention toward Mother Mary so that she may guide him to follow God’s will. He dedicates this story to the Awesome Mother of God and to his family and friends who continue to support him on his faith journey.

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