MAINFRAME OVERRIDE MESSAGE: My PTSD Explained as Best As I Can

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD or Continuous Stress Disorder or C-TSD, C-PTSD Complex Traumatic Stress Disorder

What? Why? Who?

Soldiers? Weak? Symptoms?

These are the same questions that I had once asked about our nation’s heroes returning from Afghanistan. And now I find myself trying to give an answer to those around me about my own current mental health – My PTSD.

Ya know when you open your Netflix app? You often see a message on your screen:

Buffering..

or if a storm completely knocks out your internet?

Connection Lost

These onscreen notifications tell the viewer what is happening internally – in the wiring. PTSD sufferers have a damaged (a wounded) wiring system of sorts, internally. When I personally come undone, I stammer, I stutter, I have to ask “What are we talking about?” mid-conversation, I use the wrong word or can’t think of a desired word. My CONNECTION IS LOST.

I’ve gotten lost driving around in the town I have lived in for over ten years. I’ve been asked my phone number and nothing CONNECTION LOST.. That’s a terrible experience: knowing you are an intelligent adult, have a college degree, and you can’t access the part of the brain storing your phone number…

(not good) SELF-TALK BEGINS: “I mean come on… You’re in your 40’s and you can’t offer the most basic of information… Seriously- you are such an idiot..” [and the vicious cycle of being so flippin’ stressed out that your brain shuts down and you are screaming at yourself in frustration because] – “Come on Suzanne, you are frickin’ smart enough to remember your phone number!”

I am trying to come back online… BUFFERING THROUGH LIFE.

After suffering through another unimaginable set of circumstances with one of my two adopted children, I opted to stay overnight with a friend rather that go home yesterday night. Mi amiga listened kindly to me try to explain how my brain was operating at that moment. While lavishing food love on me – homemade French toast, blueberries, bacon, and O.J. for dinner, she tried to understand the fears, the shaking, the stuttering, … and the danger I faced that she couldn’t see. [Side note: Are there many things better to comfort a person with than breakfast for dinner? I think not. She is the best!].

When attempting to explain to her how I was currently engaging in our conversation … about returning home after drinking the bleach my son had maliciously put in my cup,… I was SIMULTANEOUSLY being bombarded with countless intrusive thoughts and concerns racing through my mind.

[The background or intrusive thoughts clamouring about my head included escaping, safety, scanning my body for physical manifestations of trauma, a voice of someone terrified screamimg a litany of cuss words, noises and the no noticing of noise, self-talk of “pay attention, focus, focus,” I AM GOING TO DIE on repeat, et cetrera- as in there is more]

In seeking to understand what I was going through, my dear friend, Courtney came up with a brilliant analogy.

When you encounter someone triggered by what likely is an innocuous sound or image to most, to the one wounded by trauma, it sets off a MAINFRAME OVERRIDE MESSAGE.

Personally, I have been triggered by a beach ball thrown at my back, logs for sale at Publix to put on camp fire, an unexpected person coming around a corner, ice in a cup, and a Tae Kwon Do demonstration just to name a few.

These triggers either startle my auditory system or visually remind me of something related to the traumas. Oh, and then there’s the triggered state for no apparent reason.

Aaaaaaand the fun begins.

HYPERVIGILANCE kicks in. Every sound is amplified. PTSD sufferers even have better hearing when triggered. The blood flow in the body is rerouted during fight, flight, freeze or fawn. There is increased blood flow to the ears! (I know, pretty cool design by our Creator don’t ya think?!) An overactive startle reflex is in place. Peripheral vision is sharpened. All systems are a go for launch!

My husband can’t even figure out how to enter the room post trauma. If he walks into the space I am in and my back is facing the entrance, when I turn around, his presence makes me catch my breath, heart rate speed up, and fear grip my chest. I just wasn’t expecting anyone.

If he tries to signal me with a noise, that makes me jump as well. And jumping may be a slight underestimation of the response and reality. I am TERRIFIED. Being afraid in your own home is the absolute worst.

I am always planning for an attack with a minimum of two escape routes…

but all this is not evidenced on the homescreen. The home screen, what you see, is the same prior to the injury, the seeing, the experiencing, the trauma(s).

When you walk up to a computer you don’t always know how many other operations are running.

With the bandwidth of a computer maxed out, the front open program is sluggish and everything takes forever!

Completely me! Trying to lock the car door eludes me. I look at the two icons on the electric button- one has a lock in which the curved metal steel touches the squarish bottom part, the other icon has the curved part in an unlatched position. I see this visually, but I got nothing. I question myself, “so if the metal is touching, that means what? And the open latch.. Does that mean the door is open or will open? Do I want to unlock, lock, so frickin’ confusing!

But it literally isn’t.

Then the stress of not thinking straight hounds me, hisses at me, “Stupid, deficient, broken, helpless”. Biblical side note: That hissing is from a serpent, on his belly, lying, hoping I believe all of these labels. In my current state, I believe and beat myself up.

This mostly inactive, lethargic and listless presence of mind responds to commands internally or imputed by others- Unresponsive. Like when you can’t remember the right combination of username and password and the message in red reads Our system doesn’t recognize this information.

Thats exactly it!

I bet you can’t pat your belly and rub your head. Or is it pat your head and rub your belly. I am going with guess #2. Anyways, it is hard to do two tasks that use different systems in the body. Want to run for your life? You will need use of the parasympathetic nervous system. Would you like to find something gluten-free, reasonably priced and not made from cornstarch and sugar my just to get around the whole gluten thing? Believe me, you will need full executive functioning of the frontal lobes in your brain to make it out if the grocery store in under 3 hours.

Without being mentally “online”, actions take tremendous time and effort to accomplish. Actions like ordering your words coherently, deciding what to wear, retelling a story without you listener falling asleep because you have told every contingency and fully disclosed every backstory to “where did you go for lunch yesterday?”

The details seem so important to get your message out. From my research, I think it involves a complicated web of physiological, mental, spiritual, and social motivations. One thing I haven’t read put together by PTSD experts is the wounding messages of

1. I CAN’T TRUST MYSELF BECAUSE I OVERPLAY THE TRAUMAS I EXPERIENCED OR I AM TOO SENSITIVE. Therefore a full fleshed out explanation of a midday meal is warranted.

2. IF OTHERS HAD MORE INFORMATIOM (LIKE I NEEDED TO BE ABLE AVOID MY HURT), THEN LIFE WOULD BE BETTER. So I go on and on about the decision making process between Panera and Outback.

3. I’VE BEEN TOLD I AM MAKING NO SENSE REPEATEDLY AND OFTEN. I think “that aspect may be a little muddled. Let me explain in greater detail.”

Surprisingly, this syrupy roundabout thinking and then responding or reacting may occur years after trauma. It may generate hurt feelings as the murky thought processes are often hog-tied together with self-esteem.

So to you, my sweet friend who has stuck around quite a while in this lengthy blog post, picture the circular arrow you impatiently stare at on your computer screen after trying to pull up a task or operation. You expect a prompt output from said computer. But then you get nothing, nada, zero. (The “beach ball of death” as one of my friends calls it.)

The arrow circles around and around like a dog after its’ own tail – but not near as amusing. In fact, it can be quite irritating or exasperating. I can see that look in your face. I start to understand the social cues but for the flippin’ life of me, I can’t connect.

There are other issues going on in the background that you can’t see.

I could go on and on.

Bahaha.. Laughing at myself. My injuried brain wants to clarify still more.

Pretty sure this behavior came up yesterday telling something to my oldest daughter.

And to you my sweet friend struggling with PTSD, I will keep clarifying until mental health isn’t perceived as a weakness. It’s the most natural response to the things we’ve seen. So go reBoot. Find your equilibrium.

Via con Dios… 

“But I can’t let her get away with talking to me like that!  She needs to learn that people deserve respect!” first thoughts after rude comments from 12-year-old daughter

Where is the justice?  upon further thinking

Shouldn’t right be rewarded – like all the time!?? clearly

Shouldn’t mean people, jerks, sin, and bad decisions be punished?  Uh… emphatically YES! preach sister

And No.  Not always.

Sometimes the effort to parent is exhausting – crushing – suffocating –  both to the parent and child.

And sometimes wisdom is unearthed only by living on the planet and experiencing HARD – more than once.  Eventually our decisions change, or should, if we are able to see the value in the lessons life teaches.  At some point, people, mother’s especially, need to evaluate the circumstance and say:

VIA CON DIOS!

It is acknowledging (FINALLY) that I am not/ I ain’t gonna fix him.  Solo Dios.  Only God.  Therefore, the current situation necessitates the sweet Spanish well-wishing good-bye:

VIA CON DIOS!  

Realizing his character defects are beyond the scope of the moments and my mental health, I am learning to think: 

VIA CON DIOS!

[And this can be said with a little sass..]  When you see your adopted child with severe limitations to their emotional stability make another poor decision, you have options.  #1 Think up a well-worded correction and launch into a lecture.  #2 Loudly proclaim, “Are you freakin’ kidding me?  #3 just repeat and shake one’s head mumbling  “NO NO NO NO NO NO” ad nauseum.

But WISDOM from God rescues you from a near collision with crazy.  You see it a time or 2. or 3.  or 25.  In situations 1-24, you opened your mouth and said in the face of the committed bad behavior:

NO – DESERVEDLY NO!

But what was the eventual outcome?  Ahhh – it goes something like this:

      a little yelling, 

     a lot of frustration,

      a lot of stress and exasperation for the others in the vicinity,

BECAUSE YOU THOUGHT:  I MUST ADDRESS THIS PROBLEM HERE AS A MOM.  IT IS MY JOB.  MY DUTY.  I MUST TAKE A STAND FOR JUSTICE.

But I have a secret.  A parenting diamond for those of you mining:  You don’t have to address “it”,   – not every time, – not in every season.  You don’t have to confront injustice every time and in every season.  

It is time to step out of the way.  Over the land mine.  Avoid the crater of pain that will explode from collarbone to hip bone.  Picture a scene from a Vietnam war movie.  Not good.

So many times before, you had to address the child’s foolishness.

But you really don’t.

I can’t believe I am saying this.  It only took me being poisoned with bleach by my son, discovering paraphenalia for smoking weed in your baby boy’s room – who happens to now be 18, being hard-core judged by Christians who are more fake than real, being frightened so regularly by your adopted children’s violently insane behaviors that you develop PTSD, years of counseling, and a hubbie who suggested it for years:

LET IT GO!

But as a human woman given the high calling motherhood and nurturing five souls unto glory, let’s be honest, this is all about my journey. I – in good concscience- felt like I would be failing if I didn’t do  ____________________,  If I didn’t talk it to death with my perfectly clear analogies and scripture references and anecdotal stories,  I felt like it was going to be completely understood and listened to.  If I did _________ or if I said _________________.  

But alas, there are teenage and adult children walking around on the planet unsaved, even when parents faithfully poured the Word of God into their lives.  Salvation and spiritual maturity is a work only done is His timing and by His will.  We don’t add anything to salvation.  We don’t save our children.  

Huge Mind Altering Thought:  We don’t have to save our children.  We only HAVE to glorify God.  

Often Imagine a hostage negotiation going down and a bullhorn in hand as God declares:

  1.   STEP AWAY FROM THE FOOLISHNESS.
  2.   LET THE PROFESSIONALS ie. God HANDLE IT.
  3.   MA’AM…  MA’AM.  YES, YOU THERE.  DRONING ON AND ON.  SHUT       UP!  I  really wish God would say shut up to me sometimes.  It is such a very good idea every now and then.
  4.   SLOWLY WALK AWAY!
  5.   DO NOT LOOK BACK!  ABSOLUTELY NO LOOKING BACK!
  6.   AND LET THE CRAP GO MOMMA! 

Say: VIA CON DIOS! 

Let the sovereign ruler over all time and space work providentially and/or supernaturally.  Let the yuck of the life pass without launching a full scale assault on things like an eyeroll.  Sometimes let it go.  Now I am not saying always let stuff go.

But sometimes – Smile as wisdom whispers her brilliant counsel in your mind’s ear and say:

VIA CON DIOS!

The Death of My Happy Family

Please don’t ask me to stop being me.

We’ve experienced such pain

Both been treated wrongly.

Life has been tough for you and me.

Now, I just want to be treated kindly.

It’s been years of complete insanity.

I’m weary but I am healing in recovery.

Back on 2010 – violently,

An earthquake rumbled beneath the sea.

And devastated the island of Haiti.

Then God whispered to Haylee-

“Can I use your family?”

And the very least we could do was to say YES obediently.

Yet a few years back in 2003,

A young broken Haitian girl felt so lonely.

She lay with a man, longing to be loved desperately.

In two years time, she had delivered two babies.

They all existed in squalor horrifically.

Neglected and abandoned,

In the babies’ first years sadly,

Left them with wounds damaging them permanently.

(And hurt children build massive walks protectively.)

2012, Our opened home, inspected painstakingly,

We prepared to add two more to our happy family.

But the neglect turned into a cry,

Then a howl to be “seen”.

While our other kids’ needs went unmet tragically.

And there began the slow destruction of our “happy family”.

Adoption demands ripped open wounds never seen.

And fear torn at foundations affecting us mentally.

Diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder, PTSD.

Anger, chaos and fear screamed so loudly –

“Someone please help us!”

Our desperate plea.

…. But not before our biological children began to flee.

The oldest out with friends or at work generally.

The youngest sealing off her once open heart ironically.

And our son didn’t get the chance to live normally.

Vigilant to respond to my cries so quickly.

He was always there to defend and protect my safety.

We have lost and grieved mournfully…

The death of our once happy family.

And you,my husband, have suffered horrendously-

Health issues,

Anger,

And depression you battle sadly.

And I had to move to the garage for safety,

Barely forming sentences because of depression and anxiety.

Years of this battle,

Lies

Violence and

Manipulation resulted in this momma’s PTSD.

When we called DCF for help,

We were charged with abandonment FALSELY.

Adoption and abandonment gas changed us – each separately.

Each just trying to breathe – hopefully.

We have hurts –

And we’ve hurt each other – unfortunately.

No one could have prepared us for this tragedy.

No one.

Loss has become our language – a sad melody.

We sob.

We question.

What happened to our family?

So please understand when I pray and…

Don’t ask me to stop being me.

And I won’t try to tell you how to be.

I Weep..

I WEEP for every soldier who suffers from PTSD.

A leg blown clean off would be better.

Without PTSD- she heals, he recovers, and returns home from the war to a helpful family that can SEE the injured limb…

But for the warriors with an injured BRAIN,  they go home with “just PTSD”…

I WEEP. 

No one knows that there are times when a single sound, or even no sound at all, a sight – something out the corner of her eye, a meaningless word or an any action can send her back into the HELL in which she lost her mind.

No one understands the days, week, months, or years it may take to crawl out from the weight of the trauma that crushes the soldiers ability to think rationally, causes flashbacks played across the screen in his mind and disrupts the relationships America’s hero wants to return to normally.

I WEEP for the soldiers with PTSD. 

 

And I WEEP for every girl who has been  decimated by sexual abuse and develops PTSD…

Her worst nightmare,

the RAPE, doesn’t happen once to her.

It happens in her bruised brain, over and over-

     …in the produce section of the grocery store getting apples for the kids’ lunches,

     …in the restaurant with her children laughing at dad’s dumb jokes,

     …in the parking lot after a fun day of shopping with the girls.

 

Something triggered her…

Maybe it was the man in the royal blue hoodie,

And she was immediately transported back to her HELL again- LOOKING FOR AN ESCAPE ROUTE, LOOKING FOR A WEAPON IF SHE HAS TO FIGHT, trying to find a safe place.

I WEEP for the abused woman with PTSD.

 

And I WEEP for the adoptive moms with PTSD,

She just wanted to be there for a child neglected- a little one who didn’t have a childhood as wonderful as her biological kids did,

     …moms who have stood  between a child with a broken piece of mirror held over head and her other children…

     …moms who choose to get the shit beat out of them while driving so that she can get her brother to his soccer game on time…

     …moms who hear one child shatter a glass window, then hear the heart of their other child shatter because she wanted to go to her friend’s birthday party.  Instead of having a normal childhood, the police and DCF show up all too often and ask her questions about her parents that rob her of her innocence -way too often.  She doesn’t get to eat birthday cake with her good  friends -there.  No she is here, at home, her HELL. 

     …moms whose hardened hearts are broken into a  1,000,000 pieces of rubble because of the violent child’s siblings,

     – the sibling, a son, an older brother, that always sprints from his seat in front of his favorite video game because he fears that mom is in danger. And she usually is.  He too have become hypervigilent.  He hears even the slightest sounds, notices small movements, judges facial expressions and body language. 

I WEEP for the moms with PTSD, who have watched the childhood of their other kids be destroyed.

The trauma that often injures the deepest and hurts the most.

    I have watched one of my children turn to pot to try and escape,

     I have watched one of my kids turn to anger and shut down,

     I have watched another child turn away from the God. 

I WEEP for the mommas,  the women,  the men, the children –  who develop PTSD from wounds and trauma to the brain.

The HELL continues on and on.

They go through it over and over,

Triggered….

     in the grocery store,

     in the restaurant,

     in the parking lot

        TERRIFIED  again and again.

And I WEEP.

I WEEP today because I was terrified again today. 

I was flooded with fear.

I was fighting for survival again.

I was poisoned again. 

I was punched again.

I was in the fight alone again

     -abandoned again.

Feeling like no one can protect you,

But worse- feeling like no one will protect you.

I wept today.

And I WEEP FOR YOU MY FRIENDS,

WITH “JUST” PTSD. 

 

    We suffer alone I the grocery store full of people…

     We suffer alone in the crowded restaurant…

     Alone in the parking lot of our mind. 


I WEEP. 

3 Flat Tires in a Week – Perceived or Real Threats?

Coincidence or not?

I DON’T KNOW!

Seems highly suspicious but there are nails on the roadways, so theoretically you could get THREE FLAT TIRES from nail and screw punctures in a week.
Our 14 year old’s behavior – Threat or not?

I DON’T KNOW!

He does not seem to possess the skills to change his pattern of behavior.  His behaviors are worsening and have been terrifying.  He needs therapy.  We have tried therapy many times from home.  We have tried to find a placement outside of the home where he can work on his life.  We are running into dead ends.  And we are running out of time.

Yet God can do a miracle at any time in anyone’s life.

God can make dry bones arise and breathe.  He can make a donkey speak.

Does God often do these things?  No – God usually works providentially in the natural world of what we see and hear.  Like when God heals someone of cancer through chemo and radiation.  Providence.  The right doctor.  The right course of medicine decided by team of doctors.  The right place.

Sometimes God works supernaturally.  sometimes people are healed from heart issues without prescribed, planned, and executed medical intervention.

At 29, I had symptoms of a heart attack.   Fortunately, it was FARTS — haha — abdominal gas.  Who knew stomach gas  pressure could feel similar to a heart attack?  [Side note: Doctors know.   Haha!]  I was told to go to a cardiologist; just to be sure my heart was okay.  Well, it wasn’t.  And it isn’t.

At 30, my cardiologist recommended I go to the renowned Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida to have surgery to correct the severe MVP – mitral valve prolapse.  On a scale of 1 – 4, 4 being the worst, I have a level 4 MVP.  Go big or go home right?!  There is a significant amount of blood flowing backwards in my heart.  Not good.  This allows too much blood in one area, creating pressure and enlarging the heart.

That is what generally happens. The value in a heart needs to open and close properly to not allow backwards blood flow.  My valves, that should open and close like secure doorways, flap like the Grand Ol’ Flag on a breezy day.  I have seen the ultrasounds, the pictures, the videos.  There is clearly a problem.

At 30, I went to Shands Hospital in Gainesville, FL.  I was scrubbed in for surgery.  I was placed under anesthesia.  I was told I may be confused or forgetful coming out of anesthesia after surgery.

I was so confused after coming out from under the influence of anesthesia. My husband was there telling me I didn’t have the surgery.  I just looked at him thinking, “Oh, the anesthesia thing.  It sounds like he is saying ‘ya didn’t have surgery’ but that can’t be right!  My mother and sister are here from Tennessee caring for my 3 small children.  I have been planning this surgery for 7 months to be done in the summer when my teacher husband can be home to help in recovery.  I have traveled hundreds of miles to Shands Hospital.  I KNOW I WENT INTO SURGERY!!!!”

Again with the ‘ya did not have surgery thingy’.  ANESTHESIA IS WEIRD.  This is my first time being placed under it.  I don’t know what the heck is going on.

BUT APPARENTLY AT THE LAST MINUTE, DOCTORS DID A TEST AND THEN DID NOT PROCEED WITH THE OPEN HEART SURGERY REPAIR OF MY MVP. 

And now 16 years later,  same heart.  Not enlarging.  This is very atypical of level 4 SEVERE MVP.  Many women have a MVP. Lots.  Not so many women have surgeons tell them on their annual visits:

  1.   Yes, you have severe Mitral Valve Prolapse.
  2.   Yes, you can have surgery at any point  – cuz it is very severe.
  3.   We don’t have any idea why you heart has not enlarged .
  4.   Come look again at the monitor to see what I am talking about.  The blue color represents the backwards blood.  There should not be any.  You have a lot.

Maybe my heart is stretchy..

Oh, good segway back to healing.

My heart has been stretched “emotionally” and my mind has been stretched physically – to a breaking point – in which my brain developed PTSD.  My adopted daughter terrified me with her violent and explosive behavior.  She had to be held often to stop her from jumping out of the car.  She actually jumped out of the car while I was driving at 35 mph.  That is not good.  That signaled some serious problems.  She was kicking through wooden bedroom doors.  She threw mirrors.  The kicked out her window to run away.  She shoved berries into her mouth and asked if they would kill her.  She had an onset of Bipolar Disorder and has also been diagnosed with autism, ADHD, has low than average cognition, PTSD, and RAD – reactive attachment disorder.

I have a medical diagnosis of PTSD- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  My war is my adoption journey.

I was diagnosed with PTSD in the summer of 2016.  On my first visit to my therapist, he now states, “I strongly considered taking you to the hospital immediately.  You could barely form a sentence.  You were a hot mess!”  He did not actually call me a hot mess.  I am paraphrasing.

Fast forward to this school year 2017-2018.  Our adopted son is now displaying terrifying behaviors.  He has written many disturbing things like – “I WISH SUZANNE WERE DEAD”  in his closet, in  notes, on his bed frame, on the back of a picture frame.  I am Suzanne.  He put bleach in my drink as he washed the dishes- not with bleach though.  Although, he did tell his 18-year-old brother that the bleach was for “cleaning.”

Turns out the bleach our oldest son had seen *******  with was intended for me!

As we headed out the door,  I said to *******, “Let me go grab my water!”

He watched as I went to the kitchen.

He lied when I screamed WHAT THE [HECK OR BLEEP] – [I could have said either.] IS IN MY DRINK?

I couldn’t fathom bleach was in my drink.  I have been asked, “Didn’t you smell it?”  No, I did not.  I drank a sip to try to determine what ****** had put in my cup.  I assumed it was something gross from the fridge  and I wanted to know what it was.

He stood there.  Passively.  Lying.  “Nothing.”   That was all he would say.

My older son started questioning.  My 16 yr-old  started questioning.

WHAT DID YOU PUT IN MOM’S DRINK?

The wheels started turning in my oldest’s head.  Give me you cup Mom.  [Smells]  He screams ,”How could you?  I know what it is!  Tell everyone what you did.  Tell everyone what you put in mom’s cup!”

Pinned to the floor for my safety, he continued to lie.

I wanted my oldest son to hit ******.

When our oldest finally forced him to admit what he had done.  my mind did not want to process the fact that my adopted son had just put a known deadly chemical in my drink.

My oldest never hit him.   Never hurt him.  Never has.  And frankly, I don’t know why.  We aren’t that kind of family.  We have never hit our kids.

But this was HIT – WORTHY  in my book.

Nope.

I called my husband, shaking.. “What do I do?  We can’t call the police because of our daughter.  I don’t want ****** to affect her chances of reunification after all her hard work in therapy.”  My husband agreed.  We would look for a placement outside of the home and not call the police.

We have looked for a placement.  For months now.

My husband is like a warden watching ****** every minute of the day.  We have locks, alarms, cameras,  … and I generally don’t stay at home anymore.

So is he a threat to our safety?  DEFINITELY A THREAT.

WILL HE DO SOMETHING AGAIN?  I DON’T KNOW.

I AM SCARED EVERYDAY.

I HAVE RAGING PTSD SYMPTOMS that had subsided after years of therapy and prescription meds.

  • I have high blood pressure often.
  • I cry often because I feel abandoned by everyone.
  • I fear everyone hates me – including me family who loves me.
  • I go into flight mode.  I sometimes just bolt out the door and run for miles.  I often get in my car and just drive … away.  Any where but home.
  • I lock myself in my room when I am home.
  • I only use one cup and have it with me at all times.
  • I don’t drink anything from the kitchen.
  • I have horrible intrusive thoughts.
  • I feel like  gun is pressed to the base of my skull.
  • I shake a lot.
  • I often can’t speak correctly.
  • I feel angry because I can’t speak.  I stutter and can’t come up with the words I want to say.
  • I feel angry that this is the mother my biological kids know.
  • I feel sad because our family is ripped apart again. 3 years ago from our daughter and now our son.
  • I don’t cook anymore. I am barely home and the kitchen triggers me.  I used to love  clean kitchen.  Now the clean counters are the trigger because he had cleaned the kitchen and left only my cup  WITH BLEACH IN IT on the counter.

Need help again support system.

We need help.

 

 

 

Drip, Drip, Drip: Water and Absorbing Materials

It was very early Sunday morning.  He was bleary-eyed and shaving with a sharp razor.

I held up an Always-brand Ultra Thin feminine pads eye-level and pronounced, “This is an answer to your prayers!”

He turned from the sink where he was rinsing his razor, his hand now dripping wet and stood frozen.  A lake of water formed on the bathroom at his feet.  (Like a whole bunch of water!)  He just stood silently, staring at the women’s hygienic product in my hand.

To back up, my bipolar, level 2 autistic daughter at our home on a weekend pass from her home – a therapeutic group home – waddled up to me a few moments prior.  Not being mean –  no – literally she waddled up to me.  It was early in morning and in an early- morning-and-easily-annoyed mood prior to taking my prescription meds for anxiety and depression , PTSD (brought on by violently extreme rages of our adopted kids) I said, “I can’t hear you and please stop waddling like a penguin.”  She approached me again with less waddle.  She whispered again, “I need a pad!”  I heard her the second time.  “We don’t have any here,” I responded, now understanding the awkward amble.  She had just gotten her period two other times.  Unchartered territory.  Then I added, “Have you brushed your teeth?”  She, “No.”  I said that it was not pleasant when she came so close to my nose!

She went to the hallway bathroom.  I went to my bathroom.  I fumbled around under my bathroom sink and ‘Lo and Behold’ — Always Ultra-Thin pads.

I stood up and held the pad eye-level and said to my hubbie, “This is the answer to your prayers!

Ah -hah!  The desired results I had hoped for enveloped his face: CONFUSION!

It may have helped to have filled him in on a few more details about my conversation with our daughter before telling him a pad was his gift from God.  He had yet to drink his morning coffee.  He does not function properly without it.  The drug in coffee has altered his executive functioning – I think.  So my strange and crazy way of making my husband scratch his head plus ginormous stress from the broken water heater forming a lake of water on the laundry room floor, and lack of regular sleep because of his own depression from watching his family be ripped apart from numerous adoption traumas, and me subsequently developing PTSD, my ears always attuned to the slightest noise in hypervigilence to catch any situation in its infancy before a full-blown implosion of bipolar rage sends me careening downhill might also be contributing factors to his confusion.   If you are keeping track, that is two lakes in 24 hours at our house.

I did later explain my comment, which made Kyle laugh (LIKE DEEP BELLY LAUGH) at the mission I accomplished in totally unbalancing an already  teetering pre-coffee man.  He just laughed as he communicated his thoughts or lack of them going through his head.  He frankly had no idea how what I said about Always made any sense.  Everything I said was true.  My purposeful delivery of the information was what confused him.

Since adopting our son and daughter, my husband has had to take on the roles of:

warden,

buffer,

protector,

bread-winner,

father,

public middle school teacher,

soccer training business owner,

judge,

parole officer,

psychologist / therapist/ counselor,

husband,…

and a plumber at times when lakes form in the house.

Prior to the adoption of our two loved kiddos and the ensuing trauma, his roles were largely amazing husband, best-ever daddy, and bread-winner.

It had all gone a little too well.  We began to believe the lie of Satan that we could control our lives while shaping and molding our children into godly, happy believers in the grace and salvation that we have found in Christ.  (… we can’t, He can!)

We have learned some awful and great lessons in seasons of sheer misery.  The monsters of trauma nearly devoured me.  Only by the sustaining word of God and faith in His goodness, I was not completely annihilated.  Behaviors of our kids became increasingly aggressive and destructive – and aimed primarily at me…MOM.  I have been hit, bit, spit upon, and poisoned.  I have seen rages so strong and intense, my very young children have jumped out of cars traveling close to 40 mph, kicked through wooden bedroom doors and glass window to escape their captivity, and broken furniture, mirrors and anything lying around within reach.  While doing life as a mom with my other biological children in that same environment,  I feared for the damage being done to their minds and hearts.  There has been incredible damage.  I have diagnosed PTSD.  My kids have hardened and closed off their hearts to a great deal.  Some have turned from God battling with the questions I also ask, “If there is a God, why would He do this to our family?”

Well, deep lessons have been learned.  And other lessons are being learned.  Sometimes I wish I could tell God – we GOT IT!  Please let the lessons stop.  I am tired of being in the school of HARD.

Here is some of the instructions we have received:

LESSON #1:  We aren’t in control of ANYTHING except our responses to stimuli.  We don’t control our own lives.  We certainly don’t control the lives of our offspring and adoptees.  They are entirely in the hand of a merciful and loving God.  He allows things in our lives for his glory and our good.  That is promised in His word – the Bible.  He also allows us to make our own decisions outside of His will.  He is loving, his is just, but He isn’t a people manipulator.

LESSON #2:  There is absolutely nothing I can d to save my kids or another human soul.  Salvation is a supernatural event caused by a supernatural being.  I am not that.  In fact, I am pretty natural.  I eat, sleep, fart.. very natural.  And if you Google search about holding your farts in – I did that yesterday on a car trip to Florida Youth Sheriff’s Ranch for Boys – you will discover, it may contribute to bad breath.  I am natural!  He is supernatural.  I can’t save them.  And the best news is that I don’t have to save them.  That is a terribly big job.

LESSON#3:  Hurt people hurt people – themselves included.  Ever wonder why people turn to alcohol? I totally understand.  I don’t drink – too expensive was always my motivation.  But others, they didn’t think that becoming a falling down idiot would solve their dilema.  They did think that escaping from their hurts was a stupendous idea.  Suicide victims also believe this, as well as drug addicts, and people choosing really unhealthy relationships.

Avoiding hurts is completely understandable to me now since adopting children who would unknowingly traumatize me.  Very deeply, they altered my brain – injured by brain.  I know why the mom with prescription pills in her hand takes all of them versus the prescribed amount.  I know why people get into drugs.  I know why people lock themselves in their room and don’t come out.  I know why people eat and eat and eat and eat

They are all trying to avoid being hurt or soothe the hurt.  Even if just for a moment.

They hurt that bad.

I have a long list of avoiding hurt.

After being sexually abused from age 7 – 10, I equated physical intimacy with being liked.  Dumb Dumb HURT teenager thoughts.  Guys in high school are mostly looking for easy.  So I decided to be easy.  That added to my hurts.  I was looking for love, validation, approval, friendships, encouragement, etc.  I found none of those in high school relationships.

So when someone does something incredibly stupid, risky, dangerous, or even life-threatening, wonder WHAT THE HECK HAVE THEY BEEN THROUGH TO GET TO THIS PLACE?  She has been really hurt.  He has been through something terribly painful to act out like that.

Now, I have compassion for the tortured souls trapped in addictions, terrible habits and hang-ups.  It’s LESSON #4-100.  Taught over and over again, love others in their yuck.

[But this does not mean to agree with, support, enable, encourage, excuse or allow those hurt people to hurt you or someone else.  Healthy boundaries are essential in living in this hurt world.]

And now to answer:  Why are the pads an answer to my husband’s prayers?  He was taking our daughter to a soccer game and then back to her current living circumstances because we have demanded healthy boundaries.  We deserve to be safe in our own home.

If we did not have the needed feminine pads, Mr. Amazing would have had to make an unwanted stop to gets pads for our aging 12-year-old.

FUN TIMES!

 

 

 

 

Carpal Tunnel and PTSD

What OTHER doctors appointments have you made since your diagnosis of PTSD?

It was surprising to me to find out that a link exists between my tingling fingers and my fears of drinking from a cup in my kitchen.  One medical condition is said to have developed from overuse of the wrist resulting in the narrowing of the carpal tunnel.  The nerves are compressed from stress up in the neck and shoulder radiating down the arm and into the hand resulting in CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME.  And my personal journey of stress and PTSD began when dealing with disturbing behaviors of our adopted children: breaking and exiting THROUGH her wooden hollow core bedroom door at age 10 WITHOUT unlocking and opening said door,  jumping out of mom’s car at 35 mph because she was told she could not be a Safety Patrol and run away every few days, poisoning mom’s cup of Diet Dr. Pepper with bleach because he began organizing the shed and therefore found so many of the things he had stolen, packing bags to run away and mom randomly finding them on a 2.5 mile walk to the grocery store – to relieve stress!

WOMEN’S MENSTRUAL ISSUES and PTSD?  I don’t have a regular menstrual cycle when under great stress.  So I haven’t had my period in months.  So weird huh?

I have been to the doctor for suspected MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS, my muscles tensed so much of the time resulting in tremors in one leg…

I have been to the doctor for LOW IRON- IRON DEFICIENCY, my appetite suppressed from anxiety.  This resulted in 10 lbs. of weight loss and lots of compliments from well-wishers but I knew it was because I couldn’t swallow more than a few bites of food.  Side note:  I discovered 8 Andes Mints chocolate candies has 2 grams of protein and therefore constituted a “healthy” intake of needed muscle-building food.  Rationalizing.  I could stand in front of a pantry full of food and not be able to decide or eat anything.  I rationalized that people live eating next to nothing in 3rd world countries so a few raw almonds made for a decent sustainable dinner – This was MUCH  “healthier” than eating from a dump.  I had heard that many people live in and around garbage collecting dinners  across the globe in places where poverty drives people into survival mode.  We would all do it if we had no other alternative.

There is of course the trips to the doctor for ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION.

There is doctor visits for ARTHRITIS, AND OTHER INFIRMITIES WITH SWELLING.  The inflammation is a result from the way-too-often dumping of cortisol and other chemicals into the brain and system that can have damaging physical effects.

Fear and hyper-arousal and clenched muscles can result in many other issues.  MIGRAINES, STOMACH ISSUES, NECK AND BACK PAIN  are other common health issues that might land a person in a doctor’s lobby.  The fact is that the constant stress felt by the body is the brain’s reaction to triggers and flashbacks and memories and past trauma.

That sweet little brain of your is trying it’s best to protect you friend.  But it is like a T-Rex as your wingman in a fight.  The brain is super powerful and that super strong helper sometimes helps TOO much.  I wish I could think in a triggered situation.  I couldn’t calm down taking my daughter to the airport for a trip from FL to VA – a big soccer tournament.  I was sooooo amped up.  I was driving myself and my daughter crazy.  She said, “you are acting like I am a bad driver?”  That was not the case.  Stress had hijacked my brain and I was not under the control of the executive functioning of the frontal lobe.  I was reacting from the amygdala.  It was annoying.  It was irritating.  I wanted to tell me to CHILL.  I tried grounding coping skills and box-breathing.

EVERY DAY LIFE IN HAMPERED WHEN YOU HAVE PTSD.

COMMENT ON THE DOCTORS VISITS YOU HAVE HAD THAT YOU LATER FOUND OUT IS DIRECTLY RELATED TO YOUR PSYCHIATRIC  DISORDERS…

LAUGHTER OPTION:  PUT ON WRIST SPLINTS ON BOTH HANDS WHICH IMPROVES TINGLING ISSUES, ESPECIALLY AT NIGHT.  THEN LAUGH AT YOURSELF.  LAUGH WHEN YOUR 16-YEAR-OLD SAYS YOU LOOK LIKE Toby or Daryl (not sure which one has two wrist splints in epidsode of ‘Occupational Hazards”)   FROM THE OFFICE tv show.  Ya look stupid just saying.

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round.. All around our Airbnb!

     You have got to be kidding… Our AIRBNB sits LITERALLY within the confines of the bus loop at an elementary school.  An actively used bus loop! Come Monday morning, 500 kids under the age 10 will be outside the window of this AIRBNB.

THIS IS RIDICULOUS! 

… AND IT IS HILARIOUS! 

… And you can’t make this [bleep] up!  My husband has booked my son and I an AIRBNB reservation at a home in a very BIZARRE location.  (Me: LAUGHING A LOT.  My 18-yr-old son: not so much laughing)

Life is really, really, really hard – at my house.  It has been that way for several years.  So I use a little crazy as my coping skill.  I find humor in my surroundings.  Honestly, it is there but sometimes it’s hard to see when you face insurmountable challenges daily.  We adopted two kids who have RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder).  They push loving people away because the love from their original family hurt them as infants.

So my advice when life is insanelier HARDER than you could have ever imagined:

LAUGH!  If you can’t find something funny, then be funny!  Wear an Iron Man mask in the Starbucks drive-thru and if the guy named Jeff handing you a coffee doesn’t laugh but you and your daughter do, then maybe you will make it through another day!  Woot!  Woot!

But – oh there is so much more to the story about the time my son and I stayed in the BUS LOOP at an AIRBNB  on the campus of an elementary SCHOOL!

TJ and I were off for another soccer tournament a couple hours from home.  He has played competitive soccer since the age of 7.  He plays at the highest level in the state.  We often need overnight accommodations so we have turned to AIRBNB for help.  We have found this usually gives us more space, cooler places and it’s loads cheaper!  So Dad took on  the job of concierage and booked our lodgings.

To be fair, the description of this AIRBNB was not accurate.  Seriously people!  If you have a home that sits next to 500 small children learning reading and math,  then you should say so.  No where did the write-up of the hotel alternative mention swings, slides, cafeterias or raccoons… or rats!  Upon arrival, my son and I thought “this can not be right” as we knocked on the only building we could find with the given Google Maps directions.  A man and woman looking ready to run a marathon answered the door.  They were actually ready to run a marathon.  And we were the ‘lucky’ family who had booked their soon to be empty home.  They chatted us up a bit when we really just wanted to lay down on a comfy bed.  We exchanged pleasantries about our lives.  They told us they both were police officers.  AND THAT IS WHY THEY LIVE ON THE CAMPUS OF AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.  They have an incredibly low rent and the school gets 24-hour security.  Kinda makes a bit more sense, kinda right?

They head out the door and my son and I scratch our heads.  As we look around, we see a lot of ODD THINGS:

  1.  There is the largest, furry, brown beanbag-like monstrosity the size of a baby elephant in the place of a chair to sit on in the living area.  It has a 5″ x  12″ rectangular manufacturer label that says “LOVE SAC”.  I decided to not  ever sit on someone else’s large furry “Love Sac”.  Nope, not gonna sit there.
  2. There is a glass shelving unit outside the bathroom with its’ own set of oddities.  One shelf is devoted to 5 different Wonder Woman trinkets:  a Wonder Woman Pez candy dispenser,  a Wonder Woman mug and a couple other things that I could look back on my phone and see but it is not really crucial information.
  3. There is a hand-crafted sun-catcher – likely from a neice or younger person- that reads NAMASTE.  When I read it aloud to my son, he yelled back cleverly:  “Namaste?[It is important to note the correct pronounciation /naw-maw-stay/]… Naw Maw NOT WANT TO STAY!  I died laughing.  Pretty funny guy huh?
  4. The top shelf has a 18 inch Teddy bear dressed in a police woman’s uniform and a lacy collar.  Do you remember these from the 80’s?  Just.  Gross.
  5. The kitchen reveals a pantry in which 100% of every edible item is housed in a Rubbermaid container and a small circular note adorns one of them at eye-level.  It reads:  DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE RACCOONS!  I am not kidding.  Who leaves a note that says DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE RACCOONS on the containers in a pantry in which they have booked guests?  Well, that’s easy.  The same people who tell their guests that they are new to South Florida and have not had any rodent issues –except– rats— once—- a year ago.  THEY ACTUALLY SAID THAT.  I don’t think I would mention that folks.
  6. The comforter, window coverings and pillows are an awful primary blue fish or planet design.  I can’t quite recollect but remember them being hideous.  Not the type of  adult room decor normally in a guest bedroom.  More of an 8-year-old boy kinda vibe.  But the home owners don’t have a child.  They said they did not have kids.  Oh, okay.   Possibly, the linens could have been from a clearance rack.  They kinda had that look.  Like they would have set on a shelf for a while until the store clerks got the go-ahead to move these atrocious comforter sets out the door by marking them way down.  Cheap.
  7.  Outside we had to be very specific on where we parked.  Ya know – if a giant yellow school bus needed to use their designated bus loop.  We were to park under the tarp held up by metal piping stuck in plastic 5 gallon buckets filled with cement.  Fancy!  Kinda like a portico but in a third world country.

The adventure did not end there with the accommodations.  The home owners did follow ONE traditional AIRBNB protocol.  They had a notebook on the bedside table to give insider tips about the best places to visit in the area.   One look at the restaurant recommendations and I knew where we HAD TO GO for dinner:  MUNCHIES 420.   When you stay at a place where you are pretty sure the people living there smoke pot and arrest people for smoking pot, then you gotta go try the suggested MUNCHIES 420.  I don’t smoke weed.  (While vacuuming my couch cushions. I found a pill bottle with what looked like dried grass- to me.  I did not understand why the kid from my husband’s soccer team who lived with us because his parents didn’t parent him had a pill bottle with grass in it.  I called my husband.  I literally said, “I found a pill bottle of (insert soccer players name)’S and it has what looks like dried grass or weeds in it.  What do you think it is?”  “Weed” said my hubbie.  I was confused and said, “No, it looks like weeds or something.  What could it be?”  Again,  “Weed” said my hubbie.  Took me a while but I finally understood.  Oh!  I was holding weed, like marajuana.  That was a first for me.)   But, I highly recommend Munchies 420.   I ordered the “Dankalicious Chicken Nugs” and TJ got a “Fat Mamma”.  (No, not me.  I struggle with weight gain because of anxiety.  Really.  Every word of this post is true.  I do struggle with not eating enough because of have a nervous stomach. But I didn’t struggle ordering when the dessert menu listed Fried Apple Pie Bites.  I could have ordered the Fried Twinkie.  I was tempted. )  Back to TJ’s dinner.  A Fat Mamma is a pizza philly with chicken fingers, mozzerella stix and spuds.  Or maybe he ate a Fat Daddy.  I can’t remember… so there could be one thing that is not true.  I don’t know which one he had.  But I do know the food was ON POINT!  Great food.  Two hysterically drunk guys about 40 behind us.  Good laughs!

In the end,  I don’t know if my son’s soccer team won or lost that weekend.  I can not remember these games.   He has had hundreds of games but I will never forget –   

The Wheels On the Bus go Around our Airbnb,

around the Airbnb,

around the Airbnb.

The Wheels On the Bus Go Around our Airbnb-  THAT MY HUSBAND BOOKED!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Therapist Called It … “Protective Factors”

What stops an adoptive mom who has lived,  no, – existed, year after year, day after day, and moment by moment in fear, exhaustion, depression, desperation…

  • from just pressing her foot to the floorboard firmly and driving off the nearest bridge,
  • from taking more – way more, perhaps all – of the prescription pills she takes for her PTSD… she developed loving on her adopted kids,
  • from just sitting alone in the car, hiding out from the nightmare that lies behind the closed-door to the house and the closed garage door to the unknowing world, escaping to the places the radio takes her with the car running…

Our therapist called them – those reasons that keep some hurting mommas from committing suicide – “PROTECTIVE FACTORS”.  I nodded and asked her again, “protective factors huh?  That term makes a lot of sense.”  Those two words rolled around the places in my head.

I thought my own recovery.  I thought about my personal PROTECTIVE FACTORS.  I have joked with my husband about how wonderful death seemed compared to the insanely tough adoption journey we are on.  We can joke about suicide because we each have a lot of protective factors.  I have dealt with depression.  I currently take prescription medication for this beast.  Year after year of tooting a horn on December 31st thinking, “this year can’t possibly be as horrific as this last year has been!”, and it being worse than horrific makes for one weary soul.  I specifically remember having this thought in 2015 going into 2016.  I thought the same way on Dec. 31, 2016.  On January 1st, 2018,  I had learned to NOT think in the same manner…  because my circumstances might not get better this year.  Hoping in a good year,  a good day etc.  has set me up for failure on many occasions.  Now I just roll with it and hope only in God.  If I have a good day or week.. BONUS.  But if I don’t have a good day… well, I have been camped out there for quite some time, so I know I am going to be okay.  Funny what repetitive CRAP will do for you!

So what are my personal protective factors?

#1  I have ZERO PROBLEMS ASKING FOR HELP AND SUPPORT.  The moment we took a hard left turn on BIPOLAR DRIVE, I called our adoption support specialist.  She put me in contact with a foster mom mentor.  And if my support system suggested something, I did it.  It certainly couldn’t hurt and might actually help.  As my symptoms related to mental illness worsened,  I went to a doctor for medication and a counselor for therapy.  My husband looked at me and said “You need to see a doctor!”  My response was, “Yeah,  I probably do.”

#2  I have MAINTAINED CONNECTIONS TO SUPPORT SYSTEMS.  I have gone to adoptive parenting classes to learn about how to handle my kids with RAD – Reactive Attachment Disorder.  I have stayed in contact with some of those friends on Facebook.  I have made amazing sisterhood relationships with moms of RAD kids.  That is a population of moms who understand each others bizarre life circumstances.  When you are attacked as a “nurturing enemy” because your child’s biological mom completely SUCKED at mommy-ing, you need to hear you aren’t crazy or alone.  RAD adoptive kids push away from really awesome adoptive moms because that kind of relationship had gone horribly wrong at birth.  No one answered their cries.  No one feed them.  The mom who was supposed to be there wasn’t.  So a child with RAD will fight like a Tasmanian devil before she ever lets you get emotionally close to her.  Sabotage,  manipulation, lying and deceit are hallmarks of a RAD kid.  [GET INTO A SUPPORT GROUP IN YOUR AREA OR FIND A GROUP ON FACEBOOK!  SUPPORT GROUPS ARE INVALUABLE.]

I also have support from my family, a few close friends, my church and God.  I know God well.  And He is my most important PROTECTIVE FACTOR.  He says I am loved, I am worthy,  I am special,  and I am safe in His arms.  Thank God! Literally!

My daughters, Kylee and Haylee, are helpful.  And by that, I mean that they are MEAN.  Like, if you don’t understand what happens to a developing young lady around the age of 15, fair warning folks, it gets ugly.  I have been told my chewing on a carrot makes my daughter want to die.  Also eating cereal is a justifiable reason for screaming death threats at me.  Don’t eat cereal in front of my  16-year-old daughter.  It is a bad idea.  My 19-year-old is at college and is quite blunt.  When she calls home,  she does NOT want to talk about how I am doing.  So when she asks, “So, how’s it going, Mom?”,  she doesn’t really care at the moment (because she isn’t here and can’t help –  she says) what my actual state of “how’s it going” is, she wants to exchange pleasantries and talk about her life.  But their meanness has been a protective factor.  They don’t let me fall to pieces and hold me.  Most of the time.  They tell me to suck it up.  Most of the time.  [Side note: You can not ‘suck up’ PTSD.  It is an injury that needs healing and often needs help.]  So their meanness pushes me to exercise great emotional fortitude and strength and use my coping skills.

My husband’s love, grace, acceptance, and time are the bandages to my brain injury.  Just like Jesus,  Kyle extends to me gifts that I don’t deserve.  He gives them freely and unconditionally.  Some “Christians” struggle to give what has been freely given to them.  Some Christians have loved me conditionally.  Some friends – who are Christians – have abandoned me when the crap hit the fan… (it is definitely shit that hits the fan but I don’t want to offend those judgmental ‘Christians’ previously mentioned.)  This has been true of my family members too.  Some people just can’t handle the messiness of my life.  And I totally get it.  Because I can not handle the messiness of my life.  But if you have a messy life,  I know how you hurt.  And I offer you love, grace, acceptance, time and my heart that I hope you can hear and feel as you read my blog.  Just like my hubbie.  He is awesome.

My 19-year-old son’s steadiness helps.  My son is like a golden retriever.  He is reliable.  He is protective.  He is available.  He is present.  He always has my back.  But this personality type isn’t without flaws.  He has extended himself as the strong, unbreakable man who is exhausted from always being the strong, I GOT THIS guy.  He struggles with stress but he doesn’t show that much.

Celebrate Recovery – a 12-step Christian support program – similar to AA but not just for addicts – has changed my life.  Celebrate Recovery is for anyone with hurts, habits, or hang-ups.  I got hurts.  So I am in like Flynn.  (Who’s Flynn?)  I do not have addictive behaviors.  Doesn’t make me better – just isn’t my struggle.  For me, alcohol costs a lot of fricking money.  So I don’t buy it.  Therefore, I have not developed an addition to alcohol.  But I 100% understand why people get addicted to drugs, alcohol, bad relationships, do risky things, etc.  THEY HURT.  IT REALLY IS THAT SIMPLE.  I have been hurt so deeply that I have come to identify with all sorts – the other hurting people, the crazy, the angry, the alcoholic, the anything to avoid this pain person.  When someone talks about the crazy lady at Wal-Mart walking around the store singing, my thoughts are:  “Hey don’t bash her.  That could SO EASILY BE ME!”

If you haven’t noticed the name of this blog – it is CRAZY IS MY COPING SKILL.  I use fun and finding humor to get through life.  I will wear a llama costume to my son’s soccer practice to make him laugh.  And others.  And me!  It is a win-win in my book.  So don’t be surprised if I rewire my riding lawn mower’s whole electrical system by watching a 14-year-old do it on YouTube (because rewiring a riding lawn mower will distract me from the stealing of everything my 13-year-old can get his hands on if not watched on a baby monitor).   And if I am going to rewire the whole thing,  I should pimp this metal ride out.  And paint the riding lawn mower camo green with bright pink polka dots.  And name her Patricia (AKA Patty – actually my 16-year-old looked at the mower and said HER name was Patricia).  Patricia the Polka Dotted Beast.  And to make the maiden voyage of Patricia the Polka Dotted Beast insanelier bizarre (and funnier in a twisted way),  she killed a rabbit.  I know INSANELIER is not a word but I am using it here.  The acre of grass around my home had grown while I rewired the mower.  And bunnies had been born.  The bunnies in my neighborhood,  known as Jupiter Farms,  are delivered in a tall clump of grass.  That described my whole yard when I started mowing.  I had actually already rescued another tiny bunny from the chicken wire under the shed that I tried to escape through.  As I gently tried to get him out of his predicament (he couldn’t get through the opening in the chicken wire),  he made a squeal like a pig.  Who knew a rabbit could squeal like that?  I feared a giant momma rabbit bounding up behind me and exercising motherly protection of her helpless babe by ferociously attacking me.  I am not making any of this story up.  This totally just happened.  Me and Patty were just cruising along when a small bunny exited the lawn mower’s blade deck stage right.  It wasn’t her fault.  She is a BEAST.  It wasn’t my fault.  I couldn’t see it and wouldn’t kill a bunny.  But life in the Farms has taught me the circle of life.  We have had chickens killed by predators and who knows whate else so often that the innocent death of said bunny did bother me enough to make some one else pick him up but also make me laugh at the irony of this convoluted story.  Yep  CRAZY IS MY COPING SKILL.  LAUGH OR DIE.  Also a protective factor because I choose to laugh.

I run or exercise really hard when I am triggered.  PROTECTIVE FACTOR.  It completes the cycle of the FIGHT – FLIGHT – OR FREEZE MODE.   The chemicals dumped into my brain during a triggered response are there to protect me.  The survival mode kicks in and involves cortisol and adrenaline.  Until the chemicals are exercised out and I feel safe again,  I will be stuck struggling with PTSD symptoms:

  • countless intrusive thoughts
  • blood pressure elevated
  • sweating or feeling hot and flushed
  • manic thinking and talking
  • escape plan making
  • desiring to hide, run, fight…
  • shaking feeling all over – esp. teeth and hands
  • feeling like a bomb is strapped to my lower back
  • or feeling like a gun is pressed to the back of the base of my head.

I listen to the Bible on an app that reads the word of God to me.  The app is called Daily Audio Bible and it is free.  Lord knows I can’t read His word when scared to death.  I listen to my Spotify called Encouragement in Sadmess.  That was totally an accident in typing and M instead of an N but I think sadmess fits better than sadness in my situation.

I write also.  I scribble more often in a journal or notebook than on this blog.  I write sloppy and furious to record the things my brain does these days.  It is partly humorous.  It is partly sad.  But I want to record what I am going through.  I think that if I can tell one person that they are not alone, it will be worth the effort.

We adopted hoping to help.  I now write hoping to help.  And as another side note:  We are doing everything we can to help our adopted and biological kids.  It has meant that some of our kids do not live at home sometimes.  We all deserve to feel safe.  When that safety is destroyed,  I have learned to put up HEALTHY BOUNDARIES.   Our adopted kids will always be a part of our family if they choose.  But we may choose to have them live elsewhere to protect our safety foremost – and sanity secondly.

-Which is a losing battle I fear.  [sarcasm mixed with truth]  Sanity straddles a fine line between crazy and coping.  I blur the line sometimes!

SO I LIVE BY GETTING HELP AND SUPPORT, STAYING CONNECTED TO SUPPORT, KEEPING AN AGENDA, TEACHING KIDS IN CHINA ONLINE, BEING SILLY AND COPING”

1 day at a time-

WITH  2 years in recovery from hurts-

and 3 years of ‘every-flippin’ day” HELL-

and 7 years of our adoption journey-

and 13 years of trouble-free parenthood-

and 25 years of marriage-

and 30 years of BELONGING to Him.. Committed our lives to Jesus-

and 46 years of HIS BEST in my life!

 

[and our family therapist Crystal’s guidance…court ordered when our daughter went into state custody so she could get the help she needs and we could be safe from her out of control behaviors. She has given us many very helpful tools like EVEN THOUGH… THINKING while TAPPING,  HULA HOOPING,  BOX BREATHING,  and GUIDED MEDITATION.  Thanks Crystal.  We weren’t excited to have court ordered counseling by a highly dysfunctional Department of Children and Families.  We do love you and your therapy!  Flow!]

For REAL… PTSD Is In the BIBLE! And Coping Skills from SOLDIERS of the FAITH

“They were terrified!”  

Family members had been murdered.

Loved ones had also been killed.  They witnessed horrors.

They had CONSTANTLY lived in fear.  Better yet, the EXISTED IN SURVIVAL MODE.

Would they always be checking their shoulders… in fear of attack?

The breeding ground of PTSD.

 

The clues that point clearly to PTSD in the pages of God’s Word are:

#1- The woman were terrified.  Luke 24:5 NASB  [bewildered, terror, dread, astonishment, trembling, confused, their heads swimming, fled, gripped with fear- other translations and versions of this verse recounting the point in the resurrection story of Jesus Christ when Mary Magdalene and Mary, mother of James, found the tomb empty.]

And #2 – they couldn’t reason.  Luke 24:6-7 Their brain could not make sense out of their reality.  They did not have access to frontal lobe of the brain where logical and executive thinking happens.  These symptoms experienced after incredible trauma describe PTSD. (Technically the symptoms last longer than a month for PTSD.  This is acute trauma.. But not so “cute”! Lol.)

Identical to the injury some soldiers come home with from war, people develop PTSD from many different types of trauma with varying levels of intensity in symptoms.  Currently, it is completely unknown as to why some soldiers develop PTSD while many others do not.  Recently, reading a article about factors that lead to the possible onset of PTSD went something like this:  the person had been hurt.  If a identifiable personality type or a previous hardship could help predict PTSD, our nation would pour massive amounts of dinero into a diagnostic tool.  Finding those who are most likely to be chronically stressed and preparing them ahead of time would relieve the incredibly burgeoning halls of VA hospitals across America.

So back to our Marys  – apparently a very common name in Israel.  These women had served on the battlefield… As followers of Christ.  This intrinsically meant trauma in the time of Jesus’ ministry.  The persecution of the early Christians is well-documented in and out of the Bible.   Tied to a stake, lit on fire, and used as a torch, Christians were the  “light” source for banquets of depravity.  They were the LIGHT in the DARKNESS.  [SIDE NOTE:  A person willing to die for his beliefs  is a TRUE believer – ya think? Yeah, I reckon.  Humans, by definition, are self-centered.  No one says, “Yeah, I like this churchy, Christian thingy.  And Jesus is a pretty cool dude.   So since I’ve got nothing better to do tonight,  I don’t mind being set of fire!”  Mary had been living through a literal hell on earth.  I’d say her stress level was “up there”!  From the gospel of Luke, our doctor mentions the ladies mental health at the time of finding Jesus not in the tomb.  He says, “they were terrified”.  Luke then speaks of the best coping skill humanity has been given,…”but then they remembered what He had said.”  Luke 24:8

There in lies a sweet ticket to stability.  When God’s words (everything in the Bible), collides with your fear-stricken heart and you do the exhausting work to override the natural physiological workings of the hijacked and terrified brain, the victim can move to survivor mode!  God holds the answer.  Because He has  power over everything.  No longer is it just my own will power struggling to believe I am loved and SAFE and not insane.  I have tapped into the power of the ONE who created everything.  He has ultimate authority.  And frankly we are most often powerless in the face of horror.

With grace and mercy, the Prince of Peace can and does offer the remedy to root issue. There really is danger in this world but we aren’t alone.  We have witnessed unspeakable acts of violence.  We have been abused in incomprehensible ways.  We have had normal overtaken by trauma.  Yet He holds us on the palm of His hand. PROTECTED. Our fears can be calmed.  It takes faith in  HIS POWER and the commitment to do the WORK.

What is the work you ask?  It is an effort put forth.  It is INCREDIBLY   harder than physical labor.  That’s easy-peasy compared to battling the intrusive thoughts of a PTSD brain.  When in danger, you naturally want to fight for your life – or run to somewhere safe!  Or you just freeze because of sheer terror.  I tend to go into flight mode first.  But if I can’t run, it’s 50/50 as to whether it’s “fight, flight or freeze”.  In freeze mode, I just cease to acknowledge the situation.  I disassociated.  You can talk to me.  And I hear your words you’re saying but they hold zero meaning to me.  You could warn me of a serious threat or promise me a million dollars if I were to say the word “green”.  Either way, I would remain unresponsive.  It’s not actually my volitional attempt to ignore you.  Simply, it’s the brain’s response to the very bad designed for our very good.  So talk all you want.  I am currently out of commission.

Housed within the skull is a greatly underused organ with massive potential.  Research says we use under 10% of the brain’s capabilities.  It’s actually cool to learn about the brain.  The functions of each part – frontal lobe, amygdala, brain stem, neurons… And my education relieves me of the stress that I am at fault or that I am bad because I have a mental illness.  I am not to blame.  (PS – PTSD peeps- You are not to blame.)

I have experienced a trauma that altered the way my cerebral stuff interacts with the world.  I am not to blame but I do have to do the work.  For myself, for those I love, and for the sake of Christ, I am determined to choose well.  I care about myself and I care about others.  I care foremost about my testimony as a Christian.  God has adopted me from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light.  He has promised my eternal life.  He died to secure my eternal home in heaven.  I am loved.

So for His name’s sake, I WILL fight against the intrusive thoughts that REPEAT over and over:

  • RUN LIKE [BLEEEEP], OR
  • LOCATE ALL POSSIBLE ESCAPE ROUTES, AND
  • DON’T IMAGINE OR FANTASIZE YOU ARE LOVED, SO
  • PUT YOURSELF FIRST! (above your kids and husband who really do love you).

I choose to muster all my will and by God’s strength, kindness, and mercy, I manage to believe what God’s Word tells me is TRUTH.  I listen to REALITY from the creator of my brain.  I don’t listen to the lies that trauma tells.  My feelings are often wrong after PTSD.

  • I FEEL COMPLETELY ABANDONED.
  • I FEEL UNWORTHY OF LOVE.
  • I FEEL TERRIFIED.

Just like Mary did when she found another loved one brutally crucified, a crown of thorns were jammed on his head, his hands and side pierced, nailed to a wooden cross of humiliation, and placed in a tomb.  She was TERRIFIED.

“And then they [she]remembered that he had said this…”  [THE TRUTH – HIS WORD – THE BIBLE]

“And then she remembered that HE had said this…” [THE TRUTH – what God has provided as a source of help for all dealing and coping with mental health issues.]

“And then they remembered that HE HAD SAID THIS…” [Jesus’ words give the greatest relief and help in every situation especially stress and trauma.

EVEN COPING SKILLS FOR PTSD ARE IN THE BIBLE.

THANK YOU GOD. YOU ARE GOOD.  YOU HAVE ALLOWED TRAUMA IN MY LIFE FOR COMPLETELY UNKNOWN REASONS BUT I TRUST IN YOUR  GOODNESS.  YOU SAY YOU ARE WORKING ALL THINGS FOR MY GOOD SO THIS SEASON OF REALLY HARD MUST BE GOOD FOR ME.  THOUGH I CAN NOT SEE IT NOW,  I HAVE FAITH IN YOU ALONE TO RESTORE ME TO STABILITY.  I can’t do it.  I am so happy to trust that you can.  Thank you for the revelation of yourself to me- and anyone who wants to read the Bible.  The lies are my distorted thoughts and feelings about the crap I have been through.  The truth is God’s Word.

And His word says I am loved, secure, and protected forever.