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.

 

 

 

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.

SAFE…. WITH THE VERY, VERY BIG ANIMAL TRACKS…… and they think I am at the Rapids. Tee hee hee.

I can hear the crickets chirp, the bullfrogs croak, the mosquitos buzz quietly and larger bugs buzz louder. I hear the wind in the sawgrass palmettos and a few birds chirping nearby.

I see the green grass, the burnt tree stumps, the sandy trail, the hazy clouds covering the sun and the rocks around the fire pit.

I smell clean air. I breathe deeply trying to smell something, anything else- I face the breeze and breathe deeper. I smell earth. Nature. Wood.

Taste.. it’s the flavor of the Diet Dr. Pepper I bought on my way here. It tastes sweet. Then I taste my salty sweat. My warm bottled water.

I feel safe here.

I am a hundred plus miles from home…and my family thinks I am at the Rapids Waterpark in town…because I wanted to think that … to trick them. Because my husband said a comment that pushed me mentally over the edge right after my daughter had dragged me by my hair to that cliff’s edge. She didn’t actually touch me but spoke words that took me to that edge emotionally. I was not using my rational brain to function. I was running scared.

I ended up in a state park that I had never been to before because it isn’t that close to home. It is out of the way. And.. HAHAHAHAHAHA.. No one knew.. No one had any clue where I was. It seemed like such a brilliant idea to protect myself from any further hurt that day. I found a rarely used trail off the Sebastian State Park. This is when the Department of State Parks purposely yet under control, lights a certain area of the state park on fire to keep pests down, encourage new growth of indigenous plants and kill off non-native plants.

I MYSELF HAD RECENTLY GONE THROUGH A PRESCRIBED BURN. And that’s a whole other blog post… 1 1/2 years ago, I called 911 to report what seemed like a probable UNPRESCRIBED FOREST FIRE. I drove past a blazing fire on the side of the highway. I was most worried about a larger fire starting. But what I saw had nothing to do with any sane or helpful act of forestry.

IT WAS AN ACT OF HORRIFIC DEPRAVITY – 2 burning bodies in the side of the highway on the way home from church.

And because I was in the throes of PTSD… I could not no longer look at a log, a flame, a fire place, anything burning…

Or a white truck with an extended cab and extended mirror.. TRIGGERS.

Today- I was extremely triggered again. I am feeling emotionally abandoned from hurt and exhausted family members. Two weeks prior, I had been poisoned by my son… My adopted son if that makes it any better.

-WITH BLEACH,

-IN MY CUP OF ICE,

-LEFT ON THE COUNTER.

….and when I said “Let me go get my drink…”, he watched me drink the BLEACH he poured in my drink (yet another entry)…

So back to the state park… Many miles from humans…

THERE I FELT SAFE. Among the burnt trees, the tiny creek, the really big animal tracks. Completely alone. Beautiful. And PEOPLE couldn’t hurt me there. (I hoped.) I prayed no one was out there. [Especially when I had to pee and the burnt forest of just scrub brush now lower than the knee and tall pines higher than a 3 story building offered little hiding of the backside when emptying one’s bladder.]

An old friend said to me yesterday, “Oh, you are a runner. So am I.”

It all seems so painfully, perfectly logical when you are under attack…RUN AWAY!

My newest strategy (as I continue to cope with PTSD) is

  1. Use recommended therapy tools.
  2. Try to communicate calmly.
  3. After that tactic fails, try to communicate maniacally.
  4. Run for your life after evading those who may try to stop your forward progress.
  5. Keep going. It may not be far ENOUGH.
  6. Find alone.
  7. Breathe. You did it. You got away from danger. (Though not processing the fact that no one else in the 🌎 knows where you are and the good guys can’t help you now if needed.)

I acted crazy – looking back. I can see that now. But THAT day, when my 16 year old screamed “I hate being at home and I can’t stand you!” and my dear sweet hubbie tried to kindly explain, ” She meant.. We don’t like THIS!”- pointing at me who was trying to communicate, then confused, the triggered and finally manic.

“We don’t like this (meaning me)!”

That’s all he needed to say..

RUN MOMMA RUN.

I hear the crickets chirp….