Depression, Faith Journey, Medical Issues, Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome

A Breakthrough of Letting Go

A Breakthrough of Letting Go

A Breakthrough of Letting Go

Sometimes I don’t even realize I’m trying to control a situation. For a year (or more), the Lord has not moved. 

Then I sit back, and I reflect.

I think about all the phone calls, the late nights researching, the bookmarks I’ve saved, the groups I have stalked, the tests I have read and reread…..but…

Where was my Jesus?

I realized: ~ that my depression was stronger ~my prayer life had waned ~my mood was somber ~my temper was short ~my resolve was shorter ~my study life was nonexistent ~my relationships were strained, and ~my desire to go to church was void.

On June 17, 2018, I found Jesus again.

I say that knowing that I have always had Jesus. He has never left me or forsaken me. Today, He imprinted on me. He gently turned my head back around to face Him. I allowed things to happen that I would generally never let out of fear.

Fear has no place anymore.

As I wheeled my son in church, late, past 1044 people (not really, but it seemed like a lot when your baby is in a wheelchair), I kept my head down. I tried not to make eye contact with anyone. If I did, I would melt into a puddle of tears.

Then I turned around.

There stood friend #1, and before I knew it, friend #2 walked up. There was a brief moment where I explained a few things. Then I had to walk away because I was fixing to lose it. In no way did I want to release that control and let anyone see me cry. From the hallway, I hurried back into the sanctuary, and we were in the middle of worship.

I couldn’t even open my mouth or my eyes.

I just stood there, in the pew, with my head down. There were no thoughts in my head. At that moment, I was trying hard not to cry because I was with my children. I found myself walking to the altar to pray when they began another song. My feet were moving without the permission of my mind. I knelt, and still, there were no words in my head out of my mouth. I just sat there and absorbed the music.

Mamoo

As I was praying, I felt a hand, and I looked over, and Ms. Mamoo was praying over me. She is the most eccentric woman I have ever met. She is stunning with bright blonde and pink hair. Her legs are to die for, and she is about 86 years old. There is a strength in her. She kept telling me to “hold on,” that healing would happen and that I needed to hold on to that statement. I felt my body release. Then, I heard these sounds that thinking back, was me moaning in an animalistic way.

The music stopped.

I hurried through a door to gather myself, alone for a moment. I walked around the corner to check on H. He was beginning to melt down because he could not pick up a whale snack. He kept dropping it and shaking. As I went in to help him, the ladies said there was a man at the door that wanted to speak to me.

I have never seen him before.

This man was emotional, and he asked me to bear with him. He said he saw me wheel my son past him. He felt the Lord leading him to pray over him, and at that moment, he asked permission to do so. I went back into the room and scooped H up. In his next request, he asked me if he could hold H. I was okay with it; strangely, so was H. H was completely at ease with this man.

His prayer

What a beautiful healing prayer this man prayed over my son in the church hallway. I will never remember all the words he said. I do remember the stillness of H. The electricity in that little huddle, the tears that this man and I shed. I was humbled.

Faith.

Our sermon was on faith and how you must tie a knot at the end of the last thread, you are hanging onto. You must trust that you will land on Jesus’ hand if you slip. This sermon was exactly what I’ve been battling with for the last month or so. Jesus has been working on me to have faith. To stand strong, to release control because He knew H before He created the earth. He knew who would carry him, and He knew who was going to raise him. God knew that H would go through this. He already has the perfect provision if I get out of the way and stop controlling the situation.

In the end

I went to get my son. H was gently placed in his chair, and I wheeled him into the sanctuary. Looking up, I saw Richie, our pastor, and before I knew what I was doing, I wheeled him up to the altar. The Lord gave me another huge chunk of my rainbow at that moment. As I looked up, people from all over the sanctuary came forward to lay hands on H, Bart, and me. Mamoo anointed him with oil as she prayed.

There stood men and women of all ages and children. I could hear a gentle roar of prayers being spoken over our son. In the midst of that, I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was a familiar hand, with a familiar smell and a slight tremor. Ms. Jan, through the crowd, touched me. I never saw her face. I just felt the warmth of her hand, and I could hone in on her voice. H never moved. He never cried. He just sat there and took it all in.

 

Medical Issues

What is Reactive Attachment Disorder?

 Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

What is Reactive Attachment Disorder?

What is Reactive Attachment Disorder? RAD is a condition in which individuals have difficulty forming loving, lasting

relationships. Let me tell you; this is HARD. Seemingly, on the outside, things look great. However, at home, it is like living in a nightmare. Sadly, this is a nightmare you do not ever wake up from. Sometimes, it can be manageable. For instance, medication for moods and sleep can help sometimes. However, their body starts building resistance to medications, so trial and error become the norm.

Some General Traits

Often have a nearly complete lack of ability to be genuinely affectionate with others.

Typically fail to develop a conscience and do not seem to trust.

Do not allow people to be in control of them due to this trust issue.

They can be surface compliant for weeks if no loving relationship is involved.

However, with strangers, they can be incredibly charming and appear loving.

Uneducated adults misinterpret this as the child trusting or caring for them. If they cannot trust and love their own family that loves them, they will not trust and love a casual acquaintance.

They do not think and feel like an average person.

Some famous people with RAD

Hitler

Saddam Hussein

Edgar Allen Poe

Jeffrey Dahmer

Ted Bundy

Helen Keller

Isolated type, Predominant feeling is Sad.

1. no friends

2. no touch

3. verbally compliant, actually defiant

Evasive type, Predominant feeling is Fear.

1. clingy

2. fake

3. charming

4. chatter

5. chameleon

Defiant type, Predominant feeling is Rage.

1. cruel

2. charming

3. self-absorbed

4. destructive

Bizarre type

1. act crazy

2. constant noise

Causes

Any of the following conditions occurring to a child under 36 months of age puts a child at high risk for developing RAD:

~Maternal ambivalence toward pregnancy

~In-utero trauma, drugs, alcohol exposure

~ Abuse

~Neglect

~Sudden separation from the primary caregiver

~Undiagnosed or painful illness such as colic or ear infections

~Inconsistent or inadequate daycare

~Chronic maternal depression

~Several moves and/or placements

~Unprepared mothers with poor parenting skills

Attachment Disorder Symptoms in Children

Superficially engaging & charming

Lack of eye contact on parents’ terms

Indiscriminately affectionate with strangers

Not affectionate on parents’ terms

Destructive to self, others, and material things (accident prone)

Cruelty to animals

Lying about the obvious (crazy lying), Confabulation

Stealing

No impulse controls

Learning Lags

Lack of cause and effect thinking

More Issues

Lack of conscience

Abnormal eating patterns

Poor peer relationships

Preoccupation with fire

Preoccupation with blood & gore

Persistent nonsense questions & chatter

Inappropriately demanding & clingy

Abnormal speech patterns

Triangulation of adults

False allegations of Abuse

Presumptive entitlement issues

Parents appear hostile and angry

Attachment Disorder Symptoms in Infants

~Does not use crying appropriately to get someone to address needs

~Often does not settle when Mom meets needs

~Overreacts or often startles to touch, sound, and/or light

~Listlessness with no medical reason

~Limited holding onto or reaching for a caregiver

~Lack of appropriate stranger anxiety between 6 and 9 months of age

~Shows minimal interest in interacting with people

~Does not smile back or respond with activity to smites or baby talk

~Often does not follow human movement with their eyes

~Avoids eye contact

~ self-abusive behavior

~Is resistant to cuddling

Great Quotes

When your brain works right, so can you. When your brain doesn’t work right, neither can you.” Daniel Amen, M.D.

“Experience changes the brain,” Bruce Perry, M.D,

Attachment is at the heart of all human endeavors.” Bruce Perry, M.D.

“Traditional therapy is useless for severely traumatized people, but especially children because it does not reach the parts of the brain that were most impacted by trauma.” Bessel van der Kolk. M.D.

Complex (reactionary mind/brain stem) Survival mode

Fight – Defensive, and tantrums, argues, negative.

Flight – Runs away, hypervigilant, stress-filled, anxious

Freeze- Shuts down emotions, shuts down learning, disassociates

Talking:

Talking is the first area in which a child must gain self-control to begin healing.

Lies

Dumb questions

Unclear Speech

Jabbering

Swearing

Not answering

Why?

Arguing

I don’t know

Not accepting responsibility

Interrupting

Whining

Consequences vs. Punishment

Punishment turns thoughts to the outside of the child.

Consequences turn their thoughts inside.

Dramatic Displays:

Children must be kept close until they no longer need an audience to manipulate.

Flipping the bird

Overdramatic

Pity Parties

Fit Throwing

Aggression

Eye Rolling

Excretions:

The child must be 100% responsible for cleaning up their excretions after age five.

Urine

Feces

Flatulence

Vomit

Nasal Discharge

Spitting

Food Issues:

On the one hand, you can’t make them eat it. On the other hand, you can’t make them stop eating either. Sadly, they have to learn to control themselves. A parent’s obligation as the nurturer is to provide nutritious meals three times a day.

Hiding food

Eating too much

Not eating

Picky eating

Eating rudely

Eating weird things

Friends and Family:

Relationships must begin between the mother and child. Second, generalize to the father. Third, to the family. Fourth, to the community. Lastly, to the world.

Peer relationships

Siblings rights

Abusing other kids

Setting up

Tattling

Pets

Prescribing the Problem:

When it’s not harmful to the child, pick your battles. For instance, one avenue of intervention is prescribing the problem.

Chewing clothes

Chewing hands

Thumb sucking

Biting nails, lips, toes

Cracking knuckles

Picking boogers

Picking scabs

Masturbating

Crying wolf

Refusing medication

Nutrition

Allergies

Bedtime Issues:

Children must sleep 10 to 12 hours a night with no light in the room. On the other hand, adults need to sleep 8 hours a night with no light on in the room.

Setting alarm off

Not going to bed

Noise at night

Getting them up in the am and dressed

Restitution /Respite/Responsibility

~Restitution for stolen or intentionally stolen items should be double the item’s replacement value.

~It is the child’s responsibility to fill in the hole they dig with their inappropriate behaviors. The way they fill it in is by paying back with their time, their talent, or their energy.

~Stealing

~Running away

~Knives/weapons

~Destroying property

~Sabotaging fun

~Hygiene

From Others Toward Parents:

~Sometimes, we have to say No

~No, I won’t put my child in harm’s way by giving them freedoms they can’t handle.

~Parenting too tough, Nazis

~Not strict enough

~Munchhausen, Histrionic, Borderline, etc.

~Bad parent

~ Don’t like/love child

~Scape-goating child

~Try harder

~ love him more

Support Ideas

Realize this is a very painful situation. If you are on the Mom’s side, you are on the child’s side. Sadly, if you take the child’s side against the Mom, they both lose.

Equally important, listen with open ears and hearts. For instance, you should not judge or be critical. Again, condemning, criticizing, or blaming Does Not Help to Lift the burden, don’t load it down.

Make short, loving phone calls (occasionally) to listen and encourage, not to advise, gather information, or “check on them”- Tell her she can chat whenever she needs an ear.

Finally, do Not give unasked-for advice.

Take all information as confidential.

It is beneficial to educate yourself about Attachment Disorder.

**** Do not say, ‘Let me know if I can help.’ Do something to help.****

Practical Ideas

1. Take her to lunch or dinner.

2. Rent a funny movie and share it.

3. Send her flowers, chocolate, or cards with love and a smile.

4. Bring her some dinner or baked goods,

5. Hugs are always heading. Moms need 12 a day minimum.

6. Pray for them.

More Ideas

Run errands to help lessen the load,

Take the kids somewhere for the afternoon. Be sure she knows it’s because she deserves a break and not because she can’t handle it.

Consider giving her a gift certificate for a massage, manicure, or hair salon.

Give her Mozart’s music or some other calming or uplifting tunes.

Give her a good book.

Buy her bubble bath and watch the kids for an hour or so while she soaks to music.

Remind her of her special traits and talents.

Tell the child often, in front of her, how lucky they are to have a mom like this.

Never show up without calling to check for an appropriate time to visit.

Never tell her to “Just love the child more.” If you already have, beg forgiveness for not understanding.

Families by Design

 

Medical Issues

Confabulation The “True” Story

Confabulation The "True" Story

Confabulation The “True” Story

 

In Confabulation The “True” Story according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary,

CONFABULATION means

1to talk informally 
2to hold a discussion 
>>>>>>3to fill in gaps in memory by fabrication<<<<<<<

A major characteristic of brain-damaged patients is the tendency to confabulate—to hide and dissemble about their damage. —Peter R. Breggin

Now, I have stumbled upon another site called FASD FAMILIES. Though it is geared more towards younger FASD kids, it has helpful information. One has to realize that, say, there is a kid who is 16 years old, physically. On a good day, they are developmental, emotionally, or mentally 8 yrs old. When they are escalated, you are dealing with a 4-year-old.

No Fault of the Child

This is at no fault to the child but to why they have FASD. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome causes prenatal brain damage that they deal with for the rest of their lives. The poor decision of a mother (or father) leads to a lifetime of struggles for their children. This author also defines confabulation, and I thought it was PERFECT.

Confabulation: The fancy word is confabulation. Some would say it’s lying. I think it’s more like their version of the story becomes their truth because they don’t know the difference between truth and reality. Once they tell a story, they accept it as gospel.

^^^^^YES, HOLLA, PREACH IT, YOU GO, GIRL, ^^^^^

These are the mistakes I made (in no particular order):
I asked a question; I knew the answer too.
I began escalating because she was escalated.
I’m not even in town to deal with it because I am in the hospital with another child.
I used too many words.
Other people were involved, though they were stepping in for an absent me, not realizing they were jumping into quicksand.
We talked too long.

What an evil, vicious cycle FASD is….or any of it!

FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome)

FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder)

PFAS (Partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome)

ARND (Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopment Disorder)

ARBD (Alcohol-Related Birth Defects)

It is a horrific, invisible disease. That can be 100% PREVENTED by NOT drinking while pregnant.

Now, the big question is…

HOW DO I PARENT THAT WITHOUT LOSING MY MIND?

The quick answer is, “I have no clue.” The longer answer is, “I REALLY have no clue.”

 

 

Depression, Medical Issues, Suicide Awareness and Prevention

The Elephant in the Room

The Elephant in the Room

The Elephant in the Room

There are so many types of mental illnesses! Yet, they are rarely spoken (hence The Elephant in the Room) because it is construed as showing weakness when you can’t handle your crap. Here is a list of the main groups (or classifications) though there are probably a hundred more that can be added.

Some of the main groups of mental disorders are:

Breaking it Down

According to the DSM-V, each category of depression has specific “criteria” to meet. I am not here to argue with the authors of this book. Frequently, I have had to pull this book out to see things, and I use it as a solid guide. Yet, no two people who struggle with mental illness are the same.

That is where my thought process may not line up with the professionals. I guess that is just splitting hairs. If you or someone you love is struggling, PLEASE reach out. Reach out to a pastor, counselor, friend, family member, anyone!

My Story

I have struggled with depression for as long as I can remember. Even as a child, I remember thinking I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t look like other kids or think like other kids. We didn’t have the money to buy things that others had. Don’t get me wrong, I was loved, and I was loved fiercely. So many people do not come from good home lives. I did, and I am thankful.

As I got older, things got harder. My grandpa died when I was 14. That was the first death of someone I loved, so I took it hard. So hard that I was physically ill. I remember having to stay at Susie and Frank’s house (my “other” parents) during most of the mourning time. It was just too much for me, and I didn’t know how to process it properly.

Ice Cream

I remember when my sister and I were in the car with my mom. That moment was so deep in my sadness that I couldn’t see out. I looked at Martha and said something eluding to suicide. That is the only time I remember her smacking me across the face.

The look in her eye was fear; now, as an adult, I can see that. I remember her asking me what Granny would think and how mom could go on if I chose that path. Her tears flowed freely. Again, I was fiercely loved. I couldn’t see it because of this haze that I lived in within my mind. Never have I spoken or thought that again. Her face is burned in my mind. We went for ice cream after that interaction. From that point on, we never spoke of it again.

Diagnosis, Sort of

When I was 19, I started having health problems. I was skinny because I didn’t eat (I wanted to fit in). This was my first year in college (stress), working full-time and catching the attention of inappropriate male humans.

At that time, I was diagnosed with chronic high blood pressure (which ran about 240/120), high cholesterol, Meniere’s Disease, and clinical depression. All had good times! I was shocked, as were my parents. The meds for the “medical” part started, but I was told to buck up and be quiet for the mental aspect. There wasn’t anything they could do for me. I would be fine.

Let’s Add to our Fun

When I was 20, I placed myself where I should have never been. Now, that does not mean that what happened was something I brought on! It was an active choice of another, and I have lived with that for a long time.

Depression, self-doubt, blame, shame, and all the other negative words you can think of piled on top of me. For YEARS I blamed myself. Like I could not function. I felt dirty, unworthy, and unlovable all because of an action of another. It was horrible. I genuinely do not know how Big Daddy fell in love with me. Honestly, it wasn’t very good.

Crisis Center

One day, after I had had V, I got up the nerve to call a crisis center. It was anonymous and before the land of caller id. I knew I could safely call, relive everything, and get a straight answer. My family knew nothing. My husband knew nothing. I kept this to myself for YEARS.

I used all my words. Then I used more words. I can recount every detail like I was reading a book. There is also no more emotion attached to it. I had completely detached myself from this memory.

What she told me stopped me in my tracks and began my healing. Did you know that 8/10 people are sexually abused by someone they know? At the time, I didn’t know that! I thought every case was this violent, horrific act you see on television. Nope. I was so wrong.

I will be forever thankful for the person on the other end of the line. Thankfully, I have been able to heal emotionally, talk openly, and get the needed help. If you EVER need to go through YOUR scenario, please call 1.800.656.4673 for 24/7 help!

Moving On

So many other things in my life. Death, loss of children, threats of losing children, difficult children, loss of jobs, and marriage difficulties. My depression has deepened to the point of frightening my husband and family. Thankfully, I can use my words and communicate my needs.

There is NO SHAME in medication! NO SHAME in therapy! There is NO SHAME in admitting you are not okay! There is NO SHAME depression! It is a disease just like cancer and diabetes! You medicate for those things, and you can medicate for a chemical imbalance in your brain or a circumstantial period of your life.

End the Stigma

Mamas with postpartum, people with PTSD, people with brain damage, trauma, sexual abuse survivors (we are NOT victims), soldiers, police officers, EMT workers, pastors, and people in general!

I see you! You are okay! God is bigger! Help is waiting for you! You are loved! Treasured! Accepted! A child of the King!

Do not be ashamed. Fear is a liar. You are a hero! I hear you and feel you. Medication is OKAY! There are days when I’m good. Like, I’m great! Then, there are days when I want to stay in bed and cry. That is okay as long as you don’t stay there by yourself.

Words of Wisdom

I will NEVER forget my sister saying this in the depths of one of my painful periods. “Brandi, you can let the bird fly around your head all you want…just don’t let it make a nest in there.”

I have learned self-care: I have great doctors and a med that works well with me when needed. Jesus and I are talking again. He is good all the time, and all the time, He is good. My husband has stopped trying to fix it; now, he listens to or hugs me.

You are okay, and if you are not okay, that is okay too! Soon, you will be okay! I hope this has helped someone somewhere. If not, it sure was helpful to me! Onward and upward!

 

Depression, Guest Blogger, Suicide Awareness and Prevention

The Reality of my Nightmare

The Reality of my Nightmare

In The Reality of my Nightmare, my guest blogger writes about her interpretation of the trials that surrounded her. She writes it as if she were me. I read it the morning of my friend’s funeral. She is pretty spot on in all that she said.

The Reality of my Nightmare

Writing this seems like a nightmare

I am waiting to wake up from this nightmare because of how real it feels. But when I open my eyes, it will all go away. No. This nightmare is real. I can’t believe this is happening to me. Why? Why me? What did I do wrong to cause these people to knock on my door? Who has been watching me and observing my every movement? 

I am afraid

Afraid to raise my voice even the slightest bit because someone might be watching. Also, I am scared to take my child to the other room for fear that someone might think I will punish them. Afraid to go out in public with my child for fear that someone will judge me the wrong way and call them again. Why me? 

Raising Kids

Raising kids is hard, especially 7 of them. They are all so different in so many ways. Yet, I would not change a single hair on their head because I love them so much. I love my kids with every fiber of my being. I would gladly take any strife or burdens off their shoulders. I will put them on my own if it helps them and their future. 

My kids are special.

Some have mentally challenging issues. Then, others have some physical problems that need my constant attention. Being a mom is hard. It is tiring even. Yet, I am glad God chose these beautiful children to be mine. 

I love fiercely and will do anything in my power to protect them from the world and its temptations. Sometimes, I help others before I think about myself and my needs. I have run ragged, going in different directions to help those in need as God calls me to do. Honestly, I try to open myself up to other moms in various clubs and organizations my kids participate. I try to help them and converse with them when they need a friend or a shoulder to cry on. 

But You

You took care of my child when he played sports on your team. He became best friends with your kids. I thought you loved him like one of your own. He stayed at your house and slept over so many nights. Every time, he had a blast when he came home beaming from ear to ear. He would tell me all about how fun it is at your house. 

Invitation then Betrayal

I invited you into my home, which we manage to keep clean amongst the chaos of having multiple children and animals in the house. And yet, you betrayed my trust by calling them. Why? Why me? 

You know my child is well-fed. We give him clothes and things to toys. Furthermore, we keep him involved in sports. Importantly, we teach him the love of Jesus in everything we do. We fight for him daily because he is different. And that’s okay because I love him so much.

How Would You Feel

You are a mother with kids of your own. How would you feel if someone called them? They showed up at your doorstep asking to be invited in. Then ask you probing questions about your home and relationships with your kids? And what if you found out that it was a supposed “friend” who called them on you. 

How would you feel? 

Betrayed? 

Confused? 

I should hope so. 

That is how I felt. 

Terrifying Agony

The terrifying agony that my kids could be ripped away from me with no warning. Sadly, the wailing and uncontrollable sobbing happened in my car when I got the call. My heart can’t take it anymore. I am so tired of having to justify myself to these people. Justify every action that I do and every word that comes out of my mouth. 

How would you feel? 

Would you demand an explanation from your “friend” and say some nasty things to them in retaliation? Would you constantly look over your shoulder to make sure no one was watching you if you ever had to punish your child in public? Or are you one of those parents letting their children run amuck and do whatever they want? 

Either way, I want you to know that it is understandable if you did not know the family or had never been in their home and seen how the family operates. It would be understandable if you didn’t know my son or me. 

But you did know us. 

I was at every game. I talked to you all the time. And yet, you still called. I could trust you. You have betrayed my trust. But I choose to let God be in control of my situation. I prefer to let God judge your actions when you get to Heaven instead of judging you, which I am not called to do. 

Honestly, I choose to love like Jesus with skin on and be the city on a hill for you. I prefer to let God listen to my sorrowful prayers and collect my tears in a jar. Furthermore, I choose to let God pick me up and comfort me because he knows I am the mom He called me to be. I am not perfect. But God does not call us to be perfect. He calls us to be his disciples and to love our neighbor in his word. 

My house may be messy sometimes, and my kids may drive me crazy most days, but in what reality is home always tidy and the kids always clean and well-behaved? I would love to meet those people and that family. 

Haven’t you ever made a mistake as a parent? 

Because if you say no, that is a bold-faced lie. We fail daily at things. The key is learning from those mistakes, moving on, and leaving the past behind us. Those failures are also successes. I have put several of my kids through a full education (and I have homeschooled them for many years as well). Two of them graduated with honors, which is a huge accomplishment.

Mama Pride

One of my kids is married with a baby on the way. I could not be happier for my sweet child. My smallest child is excelling at what doctors told us would be impossible. Yet, with me by his side, he has survived those odds. 

The moments of pride I feel for the children I raised surpass the moments of sadness I think when things like this happen. I choose to find the beauty in the ashes. I will stand tall and not be shaken by people’s opinions of my family and me.

My Choices

So I will also choose to continue to stand by my children and attend every activity, club, and sporting event they are in. And if you other moms judge me or whisper tall tales about me that are not even true, I will smile and turn the other cheek as God has called me to, even if it is the hardest thing I have ever done.

Cruelty of Others

People can be so cruel nowadays, and they always look at the plank in someone else’s eye rather than focusing on the speck of dirt in their eye. Words can slice through a person and bring them down when we should be standing together as moms and supporting one another rather than bringing them down and jumping to conclusions by calling the organization before they have the facts straight. 

No, we moms are not perfect. But we are doing the best we can with the circumstances we are currently in and the children with whom the Lord has blessed us. I will continue to be the city on a hill and shine my light bright for my kids and you. 

And I know deep down in my heart that God will be pleased with my strength and integrity, and when I get to Heaven, He will say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” I can not wait for that day to come. 

In the meantime

I will continue to be the most fantastic mom to my kids and a faithful spouse to my husband. I am showing them the light of God. Continuing to shield them from the world will be a lifelong journey, but I would not change one thing about it, not for you or any other mom who says a spiteful word towards me. 

I will pray for you even though it is painful. Because in my darkest moments, I cling to Jesus the most, and when my faith is tested, I come out stronger than ever because my Redeemer is with me. No more hiding. No more fear. I will not be afraid. 

 

Adoption

How to Heal a Fractured Family

How to Heal a Fractured Family

How to Heal a Fractured Family

How to Heal a Fractured Family. The short, simple answer is to trust in Jesus. Yet, sometimes, that is hard for me. Our family has been fractured for a long time. There have been cracks here and there, but this year, it is different. I’m not going to lie; it has been a struggle. Since 2014, but even before then, due to some extenuating circumstances. I don’t want to discourage anyone from adoption, but there is so much more I know now than I did almost 14 years ago.

What You Need to Know

When people are in the process of adopting a child or children, it is an exciting thing. We do all the things that are required. You have to do background checks, have money in the bank, fundraisers, fingerprints (if international), and so on. We work hard on those dossiers. Our homes are spotless for our home study. We eagerly anticipate our referral or a picture. There are so many support groups where we talk about our discouragement of NOT getting a referral quickly enough.

What We DON’T Realize

Is that we are waiting for a family to fail in some way. If it is foster care, we are waiting for a family to abuse, neglect, or hurt a child or children so they will be placed in the system. Then we jump through all the hoops. For the next 17 out of 23 mths, we will wait for the termination of parental rights.

Or, if it is a newborn, we are waiting for a sweet birth mom to make the most difficult decision of her life. Her life will be altered forever by choosing the blessing of adoption. If international, we are waiting for a birth parent who may be dying, the child is starving, or some other tragedy that places them in an orphanage.

When you adopt a family member’s child, you are waiting for drugs, alcohol, abuse, neglect, or abandonment. There are other circumstances, too, but that was my circumstance for my son. You start looking at YOUR sister and think…she is my son’s aunt? Grandmother? Both?

The Dark Side

We are walking into the blackest chapter of our children’s lives. Our greatest joy as an adoptive family and what we worked so hard towards will come at our children’s most tremendous loss. Whether an infant or an older child, that loss will forever be embedded in their brain and heart. They are the only ones who have heard their mother’s heartbeat from the inside out, and your heart is not the same.

My heart aches because, in a perfect world, my kids would still be with their birth families. Succeeding, thriving, living, loving, and yet because of certain things, they are not there. They are with me. I am grateful. Indebted. I am forever changed because they grew in my heart, not under it!

They will always wonder what it would have been like if they had stayed with their nuclear family. They have been raised by their birth parents or in their birth country. Try explaining all of the things when they are older. It’s super fun, aka traumatic.

Getting It Straight

I do not regret any of my children. None of them. They are my joy, and I’m so thankful to God that He wove my family together beautifully and intricately.

But

Trauma is an awful thing. Plain and simple. Talk to ANY adoptive parents, and they will tell you the same thing. Trauma can come in all shapes and sizes. It can come with a list of diagnoses, and then there is “traumaversary” That leads to sabotage of all good things, behavior issues, confabulations, deceit, manipulation, and so much more.

My Family is No Different

We have, and continue to have, all of the above things and the “so much more” times a million. What started as one child exhibiting out-of-control behaviors due to FASD, PTSD, RAD, blah blah blah trickled down to other children. Another child was exhibiting similar yet different behaviors. Then, a third child goes above and beyond. Lastly, the fourth child struggles with anxiety and more.

It has wreaked havoc on my person. My husband, other children, and even my pets will lose hair when life is escalated in my home. Sadly, this usually occurs November-March and then in July-October; as I look at that typed out, it is from October-July. That gives us two mths trauma-free.

All the Things We Have Tried

We have done the things. Doctors, specialists, therapists, counselors, pastors, family, medication, no routines, homeschool, private, public; All. The. Things. One child, nothing has worked for that child. Another child, we hope, is in the process of healing. The third child is excited right now. The fourth child, we deal with it day by day.

I am exhausted. My husband is tired. Honestly, even the kids are tired. Mix all this crap with a pandemic and being in this house, and you have Funville. My underwear drawer no longer holds underwear. It is stocked FULL of candy. I wake up, in the morning, with a bag of snickers under my arm and wrappers everywhere.

There is a newfound love of Limeade Slushes. My teeth are going to rot out of my head. I have become a human GPS because I take LONG drives on roads I have never heard of or driven. My favorite pastime is driving to my neighbors and seeing if their pig is in the front yard. I cry; a lot.

Falling Apart

Sadly, I feel like my family is falling apart. That Scripture of satan lurking around the corner to devour my family is happening! Honestly, at warp speed. I have so many words. So much has happened that my fingers will not move as fast as my brain.

I am praying that this pandemic ends. I am praying for healing for my medically fragile children. Salvation for two of my kids. Wisdom with all of them. Healthy delivery for one (going to be a granny!) A healthy relationship for two kids. School to open for one. One to come home safely. Another is to stop making REALLY poor and dangerous choices.

I want my family to heal and to be whole. I want God to intervene and DO SOMETHING. Honestly, I am just ready for Jesus to come riding down on His white horse and take us all home. Home, where there is no sadness, no darkness, or pain. Just glory.

God is Bigger

I have to trust in that. Right. Yes, trust. The hardest thing for me to do is trust Him with my family. Maybe that, alone, needs to be my prayer. Lord, let me trust that You have plans to prosper and not harm my family. Help me realize that You and only You can heal the fractures.

 

Faith Journey, Medical Issues, Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome

The One that *Sees* You

The One that *Sees* You

The One that *Sees* You

Have you ever felt invisible? That no one sees the pain that you carry around daily? Has your pain ever been so intense, and you have stuffed it so far that you are numb to emotions? Have you ever been called emotionally stagnant or unable to feel things as they happen? Well, that’s me in a nutshell.

Trauma

Childhood trauma, young adult trauma, adult trauma, PTSD, whatever it is you may face. At the moment, I feel nothing. I’m always on mode go go go go go, and then once I’ve gone, I relax. Then, I cry and feel all the feelings. It’s horrible. I’m working on processing the traumas, whether big or small, past, present, or what I foresee.

Have you ever taken the ACE test? The Adverse Childhood Experience study? My score is 6. “People with an ACE score of 6 or higher are at risk of their lifespan being shortened by 20 years. ACEs are responsible for a big chunk of workplace absenteeism and costs in health care, emergency response, mental health, and criminal justice.”

Drug Allergy Testing

So, this past week, I had to take H back to the allergist at Vanderbilt. This time, not for seasonal allergies but for a Decadron Challenge. Doing this tells me whether or not he has an allergy to this specific drug.

Luckily, we had the same nurse as last time and the dr that we met via telehealth the first time. These ladies are so very lovely. They explained things to H and me very well. We had to leave early, and I got so turned around that we were almost lost.

This place is in a shopping mall—I kind you not. We had to go to a mall to go to the doctor. It is so weird. Add that to the fact we had to go up one escalator, down a thousand hallways, and up an elevator to get to where we were going. I was tired. He was getting anxious. We all know the drill.

10 Minutes Late

We got there just in time. The nurse called us back and said how she remembered us from the last time. She did all the things and got us to our room. H was behind me, twirling his shirt and hopping. I sat down, feeling defeated but stoic—Ready for this next test, next doctor, next hospital, next next next.

The nurse came over and asked to hold H’s hands. She looked at him and told him precisely what we would do. That nothing, today, would hurt him. She comforted him and asked him if he was okay. He said he was scared, and she softly assured him that there was nothing to fear. That touched my heart of stone.

Then, It Happened

She got him settled with the promise of Teddy Graham and power aid. Next, she rolled back to her computer and started typing something, asking me the standard round of questions. Then, she quickly turned her chair around and looked at me dead.

She said, “are you okay?” The statement was made with such sincerity that it threw me off. I was speechless. Then, I felt it coming. Tears rose in my eyes, and I gently said, “no.” She rolled over to me, patted me on the leg, and said that it would be okay and that I would be okay.

I Felt Seen

At that moment, I felt she could see directly into my soul. She saw everything that had been stuffed down and wanted to assure me that it was okay. I am okay. It is all going to be okay. I felt such comfort and calmness. Peace fell over me, and I could physically feel my body relaxing.

H must have felt something too on cue because he did his thing. Ever since he got sick, we have listened to Ms. Debbie. She has recorded about eight songs. He knows them all by heart and asks to listen to her because it calms him. He turned around and said, “can we please listen to Ms. Debbie?”

We both listened and praised God together. I am learning, listening, and trying to trust in the process. It is coming up on 4 yrs, and we are both tired. God, give us rest and heal his weary body.

Side note: he is NOT allergic to Decadron 🙂

 

Adoption

Experiences with WONDERFUL Social Workers

Experiences with WONDERFUL Social Workers

Our Worker

I cannot rave enough about Carla. She was gentle, thorough, and kind from the beginning to the end when we closed our home. Even afterward, I have been known to call her about things, and she is still just as impressive.

This woman has a gift. I’m so thankful to her for her help, wisdom, and love in getting us through that horrible experience. Then, she was so gentle when we moved into our next (and last) placement.

Amazing.

Placement #2 Social Worker

We accepted another placement in March of the following year. Honestly, we were apprehensive and very guarded. I feel, at times, I did my kids an injustice because I lived in fear of them leaving at any moment.

The kids’ social worker was phenomenal to work with on their case. When she called us about this placement, she laid it all (well, what she knew) on the table. She made no demands of us, no “contact me daily with updates or else” type of things. Every time there was a court date, I knew about it and attended. Rarely did I ever have to testify, but when I did, she thoroughly prepared me.

We walked in as a united front against their perpetrator. We cried with the birth mom as she lost custody. She listened to me cry when I had had enough of her behaviors and didn’t know what to do. She heard and encouraged.

Again, I’m in awe of her amazingness. Now her supervisor was a piece of work, but you can’t control the stupidity of others.

Classes

Our mandatory classes were taught by a professor of social work from Murray State. She was precious. I’m not going to lie, it was like watching paint dry taking these classes, BUT she always brought candy.

I think the only time I struggled was not with her but with the content of the class. We took our regular PS-Mapp classes, Care Plus classes, and Sexual Abuse classes. The first set was boring. The second set was eye-opening. She just brought me chocolate in the third set and told me to eat my feelings. It was tough. For everyone, us, other couples, and Gail. Just a tough subject.

She was so accommodating to my husband’s work schedule. She went above and beyond to help us even though he could not be “in” the classroom. Gail worked with him one-on-one, and that sacrifice is one that I appreciate.

Friends

I have so many friends in this field. Some work in schools, some in offices, and some in counseling. All of the people I know are phenomenal at their jobs. It is easy to hyperfocus on the failing system and the workers who don’t care. Yet, there are ones that do care and work so hard.

The foster care system is a very flawed system from the beginning to the end process. It is easy to come in, do a job (poorly or selfishly), and go home. The people I know tell me it is NOT easy, they work hard, and their hard work is affected by their supervisors, judges, or the court, and they don’t leave their job at work. They always bring it home and sit with it.

Do you know how hard it is to “sit with” such trauma, abuse, and neglect? I can’t imagine, but I know how hard it is. Whether they work with children, adults, or the elderly is hard.

Investigative Workers

Now, that is a crap job. I know of one investigative worker like the person I documented yesterday. She needs to be fired. She is not in this for the good of the children, their parents, or the foster parents. She saw the bullshit, ignored it because she was all about numbers and removal, and ran with it. Destroying lives as she went.

However, I know 3 and 1 investigative officer. The officer I adore. He and his family are why kids begin to feel safe and loved. Another one is one that was so gentle and kind when her services were needed. So thorough. I’m so sad that she moved on to another position.

Then there are two that I wanted to dislike. Yet, I didn’t. See, some good investigative reporters can see through the smoke of false reporting. They do their job, they are thorough, but they see through the bullshit.

They made it easy to talk to, be honest with, ask questions, and help with resources. When they walk into a place, they know these are good people in extraordinary circumstances. Again, they see the false reporting, and after the first report, the reporter is documented! They SEE the lies and will not stand to see a good family drug through the mud.

Mixture

We have had more good than bad experiences being involved in the system for 15 years. I’m so thankful for the good ones. Kids, adults, and the elderly deserve a voice that speaks clearly for them. Those accused deserve to be heard as well. Those investigators also need to sort through the false and factual claims to preserve the family unit. In court, it is pounded in your head that reunification (if a child is removed) is always number 1. The courts want the nuclear family to remain intact. They want to see the birth family succeed, get help, ask for help, heal, and so forth. That is when the case is substantiated.

Then there are the cases that are false, and a good worker sees that. They do their jobs gently and with class. Yet, they know the truth. There are “revenge” calls where a person seeks revenge on a family. There are the “well-meaning” calls where they think something is going on but don’t know for sure. Then there are the downright lying ones. Lastly, there are real calls, and someone needs to step in and intervene. Good investigative social workers can distinguish between them all.

Thank a social worker today, a counselor, or an investigator; pray for them, their safety, and wisdom. Pray that the system begins to work and children who need help are also helped—those who falsely accuse answers of their choices.

 

Depression, Medical Issues

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

 

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

 

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is something that I will be doing. After a couple of years of tackling acute trauma in my life, a decision came to pass. I have decided to move forward with Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).  EMDR is a therapy that helps you process your trauma through eye movement. Sounds crazy, right?

 

When I Started Therapy

 

It was hard. I’m not going to lie. I told my therapist that I was there for only 52 days (read the book of Nehemiah, and you will understand that). There was one memory that I wanted to tackle amid EMDR. Sounds simple, huh.

 

I love therapy (my Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy). The thought of being able to help someone through the muddy waters until it becomes clear running is my jam. I love seeing beauty come from ashes (Isaiah 61:3).

 

Yet, it is SUPER hard for me to be in the clients’ seat because I know all the logical things. I know what to tell myself. I know how to process items. I did not enjoy my time at all. I was the worst client in history of ever.

 

Sessions

 

We did the first session, and I freaking went somewhere I did not want to go. That was not my mission; that was not part of my 52-day plan. Not. At. All. I was so pissed when I left. In the next session, we did EMDR; I could not focus. I was already walled up because I did not want to go where I was the previous week. On the third visit, we did the DUMBEST grounding thing ever. I laughed hard because she was so serious, and it was not my jam. I assume she guessed that when I said, “this is the stupidest shit ever, and I’m not doing it anymore.”

 

Point taken.

 

Bless her heart.

 

I would have fired me as a client.

 

Co-Vid Hit

 

With that, we had to do virtual visits. Again, not my jam. I couldn’t focus because my kids were loud. I didn’t feel like I was in a safe place, and I couldn’t concentrate. It was hard. That therapist moved out of the office and took another job in another state (which had nothing to do with me, LOL).

 

They switched me to another counselor. I was set not to mesh with this lady because my mind was already made up. EMDR was stupid, not effective, my 52 days were up, no progress, and now I had to rehash everything with another person.

 

Not happy.

 

Getting to Know Her

 

My new therapist was my jam. We clicked immediately. She didn’t make horrific faces when I said things. It was easy. Comfortable. I’m so grateful to her and how she immediately made me feel so safe.

 

EMDR has yet to happen (next week), but our focus was on the MASSIVE acute trauma that I faced weekly. I kid you not; every week was a new trauma. I’m glad she could swim because she was deep in with me.

 

Complicated Party of 1

 

My life is very complicated, and so is my past. I’m very complicated. I’m an empath to the nth degree. There are so many things that I blame myself for, and I carry with me these notions that are not true.

 

We could not even address my past because my present was so tangled. My present was getting more and more knotted every single day. There were days that I couldn’t breathe. There were times when she was almost insistent that I go somewhere to get into patient care. That’s how bad I was.

 

I kept in close contact with my doctor (medication), pastor, my mom and sisters, and my fantastic husband. Without this support (especially my husband), I would not have made it. I still have bad days, but they are fewer and farther between them.

 

Addressing it All

 

Now, we are ready to dive into EMDR. Today was in preparation for next week, and let me tell you. It was hard as hell. The prep sucked. We are going to try and do EMDR through virtual visits. If that doesn’t work, we have a plan. I will drive to the center for one week to do EMDR in person. EMDR will be with another counselor. Then, I will process the next week with my regular counselor. I’m praying that the virtual does its thing and that I can break down the walls and mindsets that keep me captive.

 

Ending the Stigma of Mental Illness

 

I may write about my processing, as it helps me. Yet, I may not publish it, LOL. I may keep it private to protect those that still need protecting. I can write on my blog and keep it private. I don’t know yet.

 

Today, I learned what a trigger was for me. What reality is and what lies I choose to believe. Now, we have to untangle that mass of lies. This is where we separate the lies from the truth and then live in the land of reality. Instead of it being a trigger, it will be a memory that does not affect me as it does now. Right now, it is crippling.

 

You are Not Alone

 

Please, if you struggle with mental illness, I want you to know something. You are NOT alone. You are normal. You matter. You deserve love. You are enough. Please seek help from a counselor, pastor, friend, or family member. Write, draw, drive around, get on medication, and get an emotional support animal. Do what you need to do to help yourself because you matter. 

 

As I move along this process, I will keep those who care or are curiously updated.

 

Adoption, Faith Journey

It is Time to Let Go and be Free

  1. It is Time to Let Go and be Free

It is Time to Let Go and be Free

What a phrase that is. Val Kilmer typed that to Tom Cruise in the new movie Maverick. I have been praying a lot. Primarily for clarity in a few situations that are ongoing in our family. God speaks in a variety of ways. I guess speaking through a film is one way to do it.  

At some point in my life, I have to stop torturing myself so much. It is constant. I torture myself daily. I am the kind of wife, mother, daughter, and sister that owns all the things. I question my motives, intentions, desires, and thoughts. Where things go wrong, regardless of who is at its root, I torture myself. Torturing myself has gone on for years. I can’t just let it roll off my back, it absorbs in my soul, and I wear the wrongs like a cloak.

I believe it is time to torture myself a little bit less. Today is a good day. I can believe everything I’m typing. Tomorrow may be different.

As I was floating in our pool, listening to H play, I thought of everything I “own.” Running through my list, I went through all our children, my siblings, parents, marriage, etc. Then, it hit me. 99% of what I torture myself about has nothing to do with me. I didn’t cause it, and I can’t fix it. Let’s jump back into our adoption years.

Life Just Isn’t Always so Tidy.

God’s plan isn’t always so easy to understand. Our first plan was international when we decided to expand our family through adoption. I knew Ethiopia was in our future at a young age. Yet God had other plans.  

He brought in our first set of kids for a season, reuniting them within about a month with their birth mom.  When the left, I thought I had done something wrong.

For some reason, I believed it was my fault that they returned to their mother. I was so young and inexperienced in foster care and adoption through the foster care system.

I know now that reunification is always the first thing to do, if possible. What a beautiful thing that they got to go back to the one that gave them life. It was a short season with her, but I know that they are safe and loved with the family they are with now. I can let that go. My love for those kids will always be powerful. Yet, God had other plans. Now, I can be happy and thankful I was a safe haven for them. They were loved by us and loved by so many people.

Release.

Sometimes Reunification is Not a Possibility.

When we got the call for our second set of kids, I allowed fear to creep into my heart. Sadly, I had not healed from the loss of the previous two children. Again, I wore a cloak and tortured myself for something that wasn’t mine to wear.  

Reunification was not in the cards for our second placement. We met these kids so full of tentative smiles and lots of hyperactivity. We were eager to expand our family. Yet, we tried to do everything right to reunify them with their birth mom. Sadly, that didn’t work, and trauma was prevalent.

Coming from Foster Care is a Tricky Thing

These kids were coming from multiple foster homes. Living in numerous homes was due to behavior, PTSD, and more. We were so ill-equipped to handle the needs of one of the children and we had no help or resources from the state.

Looking back, almost 16 years later, we see all the signs. Then, we just wanted to heal, love, and show this child Christ. One of my kids has written some powerful things about foster care and abuse. Those things are very well-spoken.

Now, this young person is someone I don’t even know. A lot of damage has been done, and bridges have been burned. However, my (our) love for this child will always remain steadfast, though we have to protect the other kids in our home.

I hope that one day, we can all be reunited. Forgiveness can take place, and healing can happen. Healing and forgiveness can only be orchestrated by the One that loves us all.

Right now, that isn’t what is going to happen. For years, I thought I was crazy. Hindsight is 20/20.

Now, I see where I was at fault, and I’ve apologized and made peace with it, for the most part. Again, I’m wearing a giant cloak that is not mine.  

I am not responsible for the decisions being made now. The things in the past I’ve owned, asked forgiveness for, and tried to remedy within myself. Sadly, I have no control over what is going on now. I pray that help is sought, proper medication, therapy, nutrition, sleep, and a lot of Jesus will permeate this child’s life.  

In my life, I choose to continue with therapy, confide in those closest to me, seek the face of Jesus, and prepare for rain. Preparing for rain looks different for everyone. In our case, we have cameras up, people who need to know are made aware of things, an attorney if things go in a way they shouldn’t, authorities are on alert, and documents are gathered. Preparing and doing these things are not indicative of anything other than protecting my other kids. My hope and prayer are still that the Lord reunites my whole family.

Release.

Things are Looking Up

Our pool is working, the air conditioning is cooking (though it is limping), we are all healthy, and great things are on the horizon. I have introduced my grandkids to music! Music is one thing that we missed in those years. We had to limit it due to some obsessions. Now, my home is flooded with music and dancing. My grands love opera! We listen to blues, the 60s, classical, praise and worship, old hymns, Frank Sinatra, and much more. Then there is J & D’s music. I’m not sure what you classify that as, LOL. It is so joyful and peaceful (most of the time).  

I have plants that are still alive. That is a fantastic thing! We are slowly redoing the things that need to be renovated in our house. Thankfully, I’m not obsessing over those little things. I’m reveling in the fact that we can and are making progress. H has made great strides and improvements with his OMS and behavior. J is thriving. D is succeeding, and his growth astounds me. Our relationship has improved a 1000%. We talk every night. I mean, honestly, what teenage boy wants to talk to his mom every night. Yet, he calls like clockwork, and we have the best conversations. My bigs are healthy, grandbabies are healthy, and my son is having an event in March. My parents are here often, and I love that so much.

Release.

In All the Thanks for the Above

I still miss my one. Still, I want that one here enjoying everything and being a part of our life. Yet, that isn’t going to happen right now. It can happen, and I pray that it will. For now, I continue to pray for healing. I revel in peace. Slowly, I take off the cloaks that are not mine. I’m giving them back to whom they belong while owning what I need to own. I’m prepared for the rain. I am not afraid. We are good, safe, loved, and healthy.   

Release.