Do I have PTSD when not living with traumatic stress?

In Santee, SC…

Up at 8:30 for a Holy Yoga Morning flow.. Found by Google search on YouTube. I love stretching out the muscles in the morning that tighten up in a post-40 body when you sleep. It is amazing how breathing into a stretch allows the muscles to relax and melt the tensions away. Stiff neck and back now feeling great after 15 minutes with Catherine. ( highly recommended!).

I dress quietly because my family doesn’t get up early if they don’t have to. Zipfizz in hand – my morning “coffee”. Zone Chocolate Mint Protein bar is my bacon and eggs.

And I am off to the hammocks lakeside.

I’ve found a safe place.

I begin by turning my cellphone into a portable radio and listen to my Spotify playlist entitled “Brave”. Recovery. Empowering. Reminders that I am loved. This is a top “healthy” coping strategy that works for me. Christ-centered music to refocus.

And I pull out my notebook dedicated to capturing the moments of my life. The ones you might relate to… If you needing coping skills, like me, to successfully navigate a 24 hour day.

Writing is a huge form of therapy. Just thinking YOU may read this. My sisters – my #liveLoved sisters. Those of us who the devil has been allowed to orchestrate crushing trials. To live loved, I must believe that the trials I go through are for my good because my God is good. He can not be another way. My God is loving. So this trial I am going through is a loving season to bring about my good. And scriptures teach- believing them all in their entirety and context- that He doesn’t not test us but allows trials in our lives.

So with that mindset, that I must remind myself of often, is my R in the word REST. R is for remember God’s truth and promises. After a year of Celebrate Recovery’s step study, I am very familiar with having an acronym help me understand a way forward in healing. Those unfamiliar with Celebrate Recovery often hear only recovery and think drug and alcohol addiction. This is not that. CR is for anyone with hurts, habits, or hangups. I don’t an addictive personality (only by God’s grace) but I have been hurt many times by my adopted kids. Celebrate Recovery helps me navigate these hurts in a healthy way-focusing on TRUTH not LIES.

This vacation to Lake Marion, South Carolina is primarily meant to be a time to REST for hubbie Kyle, Kylee, 20, TJ , 19, and Haylee, 16…. our biological kids. And me ,46, – like hubbie. Much needed after struggling through 7 years of blending adoptees with biological family, the last 3 being years of devastation and decimation. The family who adopted because they had a super strong foundation in the Lord, were compassionate to others hurts, and wanted to share our healthy and happy family experience, now was completely fractured.

I had developed nearly every symptom of PTSD after Round 1 with our youngest daughter. One day she just snapped. I asked “Who let the dog out?” She bolted out the door and in seconds was no where to be found.

We looked.

We prayed.

We looked.

We prayed and cried deep sobs of confusion.

And during this hand holding family prayer time, she quietly came back. She stood at a distance and has never been the same girl who had always been so happy. She has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, autism, RAD, low cognitive function (68),ADHD…

That commenced 3 years of our current hell. It really hasn’t stopped. We are still there with her though she has lived in a residential lockdown facility for mental issues (2x now) and 2 therapeutic group homes… Where she lives now.

And then there is our adopted son. He has been stealing since day one. Written off by every therapist as normal for foster adoptees, his thievery has escalated from every four months or so to daily.. Not kidding. He can’t walk through a room- like from his bedroom to the family room- without grabbing and hiding something he shouldn’t. Any room check reveals his antics (haha- not funny). Candy from his sister’s room.. The room that he was made to buy a lock for.

But what 16 yr old remembers to lock her bedroom door when she heads for ther kitchen or bathroom for a sec.

His journey has almost imperceptibly gone downhill while his sister’s was more like a roller coaster careening off the tracks to a near fatal end numerous times. I literally don’t know off the top of my head how many times she has been Baker Acted.

Over 10 times. Before age 12.

Both engages in behaviors to destabilize our home. Lies. Bullying. Screaming. Manipulating. Triangulating. Stealing. Hoarding. Running away. Threatening. Attacking. Sabotaging.

We now exist as a very fractured family. Every human in our bio fam copes in very different ways. And it isn’t pretty. At all.

But this week, it has been beautiful.

E is for Enjoy each moment. Stay in the present.

Though …. not every moment. Our oldest daughter, who checked out of “doing family” 3 years ago when all hell broke loose, said at one point this week , “You raised some pretty psycho kids. So much anger!” .. chuckling about casual encounter with brother that was a simple misunderstanding. I quickly reminded her, “Duh…. You haven’t lived through the catastrophic daily sh#! brought about by your youngest siblings. (She worked everyday and hung out with friends her senior year -year 1 of hell. Year 2 and 3 she was off to college 6 hours away.)

S is for Stop trying to “fix” anyone especially my bio kids.

How could they not be angry? And btw, you are no angel yourself. You have very strong opinions you share quite often that clash with our family values.”

For me, mom, it has been like having a ticking time bomb strapped to your lower back never knowing when you will be careening through time and space in pain from the explosion(s).

But THIS WEEK.. GREAT MOMENTS:

  • tubing down a beautiful peaceful river laughing at Haylee til she made my sides hurt.
  • cooling homemade flatbread pizzas -Buffalo Chicken Tender pizza with Hot Sauce and Bleu cheese, BBQ Chicken pizza with caramelized onions and peppers, cheese 🍕.
  • Watching a storm roll across the lake from balcony.
  • Pontoon life- Best day ever!

Hammock time with Jesus, nature, Spotify and a notepad or drawing pad.

T is for taking time for self to heal – music, writing, walking in nature, yoga, running…

Rest.

I can cope on vacation and use therapy tools learned in years of counseling for my life’s hurts/ circumstances. Here. By the lake. Hundreds of miles from adopted kids.

Yes, I still have PTSD.

  • I am easily bombarded with intrusive thoughts with any stress. It’s like there is reality and then so many different competing, screaming thoughts in my head.
  • I have a high startle reflex.
  • Escape plans are always subconsciously made and I laugh when I realize it.
  • I see the world as a dangerous place.
  • I see places on my vacation site as places to check out permanently and end the life I have to return to. Suicide isn’t something I feel even close to doing but the idea of being out of pain forever always sounds ideal.
  • I talk fast, maniacally, in confusion or misunderstandings. To not be understood is a trigger. I am confused by innuendos because I am angered by the fact my brain will start to slow down under stress.

I have other trauma related triggers like a clean kitchen from when my adopted son poisoned my drink. Triggers follow me on vacation.

But here -I recognize. I cope. I don’t fall to pieces for hours or days. That’s what happens at home. On my best days.

PTSD changes the brain. The good news is plasticity. That is a word used to describe our powerful brain’s ability to change.. Slowly.. But possible. Hopeful.

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