Not All Wounds Are Visible Part Two: How I Cope with Unworthiness and a Diagnosis

Now that I have shared that I have a diagnosis of PTSD from two traumatic events that you can read about here, I would like to share with you how I have learned to cope with not only the diagnosis and symptoms, but also the feelings of unworthiness.

According to the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition) there are certain criterion or specifications that must be met in order to have a diagnosis.

“Diagnostic criteria for PTSD include a history of exposure to a traumatic event that meets specific stipulations and symptoms from each of four symptom clusters: intrusion, avoidance, negative alterations in cognitions and mood, and alterations in arousal and reactivity. The sixth criterion concerns duration of symptoms; the seventh assesses functioning; and, the eighth criterion clarifies symptoms as not attributable to a substance or co-occurring medical condition.”

Check. Check. and Double Check.

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I have worked with counselors writing out the experiences, pretending they were movies, and much more in-depth therapies. I find they help for a while, make me become comfortable until there is a trigger such as a sight, sound, smell, or even a flashback that can be paralyzing.  Here are a few ways I combat my symptoms.

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Not All Wounds Are Visible Part One: Unworthy of a Diagnosis

Have you ever been diagnosed with an illness? You wake up feeling puny, make an appointment to see your doctor and  $35 and a few prescriptions later, you know what you have and if you don’t feel better in 7-10 days, come back for a recheck.

Have you ever been diagnosed with a mental illness? You probably have many more hoops to jump through and a much higher deductible for your out of network psychiatrist (are there any in-network ones??). Medication may or may not be able to help you deal and it takes much longer than 7-10 days to see how your medication might help you or months of counseling before you even start to pick away at the issues your face daily.

I have a diagnosis I feel unworthy of, I do not even like to claim it for fear of the stigma attached.

Personal photo

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I am a M&M cookie mom.

It is the night before the preschool Easter party and I don’t have the required 6 candy filled eggs or cookies I signed up for to take to the party.  We live in the country, the only options are a tiny over-priced grocery store or Dollar General.  We go straight to DG after church and pick out the pack with 6 plastic eggs (because I do not want any extras in the house for me to step on!) and Hershey Kisses (got to at least get the good candy!) to put inside them and head home only to realize I forgot to buy cookies. At this point I am kicking myself for not getting Sew Sweet Things to make some beautiful and delicious Easter cookies like these for me to take.

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Cookies from Sew Sweet Things

Lucky for me, I did buy cookies a few days ago at Kroger: Sugar cookies for Eddie and M&M cookies for me AK. Maybe no one will notice one or two of the cookies are missing.  Fast forward to Thursday morning, AK and I are running in the door with the required 6 candy filled eggs and M&M cookies and I see the cookies the other mom brought.  Imagine with me: a perfect nest created with the no-bake chocolate oatmeal cookies everyone loves and in the center of the nest is a single peep surrounded by colorful chocolate eggs. They were beautiful. A Pinterest creation. This mom spent some time making an edible spring scene for all 21 children in the class.  I hand over my M&M cookies, kiss AK bye, and head home to work on homework.

As I am driving home, I keep thinking about those cookies.  Why hadn’t I taken the time to at least make some break and bake cookies or practiced my cookie decorating skills I learned at the last Ladies night at church, isn’t that why I signed up to make cookies?  Oh yeah, ain’t nobody got time for that when they are in grad school.  I think about that mom taking the time to make each individual nest and matching the peep with the eggs around it and I remind myself

It isn’t a competition.  Being a mom isn’t a competition.

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Friday Letters 4.3.2015

Dear Jesus, Thank you for Good Friday and for giving yourself for someone as lowly as me. Can’t wait to celebrate the Resurrection on Sunday! I am looking forward to the sunrise service.

Dear AK, Thanks for going to see Cinderella with me!  I am so glad you enjoy movies and sit still, it was a good day to skip school and spend the day with you.  Don’t worry, I will catch you up on what you missed at K3.

Dear cashier at Target, you are the bomb (do people still say that?). I am so impressed you rang up a buggy worth of Easter stuff without the toddler noticing. That takes skills, they should give you an Easter basket for your hard work.

Dear Lady in the Easter section, Thanks for not judging me for waiting until the last-minute to buy the Easter stuff WITH MY TODDLER. That was super helpful of you to help distract my kid while I snuck a chocolate bunny in my secret bag.  While other moms (who also waited until the last-minute ahem, Judgy McJudgerson) were looking at me like I was crazy pointing at random things in the store for AK to look at so I could stealthily place items in a gift bag from the dollar spot, you started pointing at random things too!  Way to work together for the better of all moms instead of judging each other.

Oh hello April, I didn’t notice you had arrived…other than the massive sinus headache I have had all week.  I am going to need you to bring some of those April showers to wash this crap away.  My black tin roof looks green. Okay? Thanks!

♥ Elizabeth

National Poetry Month

I am going to be vulnerable with you guys today in honor of National Poetry Month.  I was reading More Reasons to Write a Poem and was inspired to share a poem I wrote a few years ago, probably the only poem I have written since I was required to make something for mother’s day in first grade (most likely to the tune of roses are red, violets are blue).  I am not a huge lover of poetry, nor do I consider myself much of a writer but I admire those who can.

Even though poetry is not my first (or second) choice in reading, I feel as an educator, I should be well-versed in it and comfortable sharing my writing with students who might be afraid to write their own poetry.  You never know when you might have Whitman, Dickinson, or Tupac (you don’t have to like rap music to appreciate the poetry in it) in your class who needs some encouragement to write or maybe just the opportunity to express a trial they might be going through. Continue reading

What motivates you?

While I was in undergrad, my pawpaw had a very bad stroke that affected his speech and the right side (his dominant) of his body.  He is able to walk and his speech has improved, it isn’t the same as it was before but he can communicate pretty well.  Before he had the stroke he was always tinkering.  Working on a lawn mower here or a boat there, making odds and ends, he was always busy, but the stroke has really slowed him down.  One of the things he would make before he had the stroke was wind chimes.  My mom has had one on her front porch for years and one day I told her I wished I could have one too but I didn’t think he was capable of making them anymore and I never really thought about it again.  After a very hard first year of marriage including a house fire (you can read about here), we had a very big 1st birthday party for AK to celebrate her and moving back into our house.  I was so surprised to receive this!

wind chime

It was a Dr. Seuss birthday! I am not normally Thing 2 😉

It had taken him several months to make, but it is way better than any wind chime I could have bought in the store.  I love to hear it every single day and when I get overwhelmed by all the silly things I have to take care of, I just listen to it and think of how hard he worked on it, how he persevered to give such a special gift with almost no use of his right hand. Continue reading

Called to go.

In The Great Commission, Jesus tells us to go (Matthew 28:16-20).  He also says in Acts 1:8

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Originally from: https://www.facebook.com/ymimissions/photos/pb.44499695987.-2207520000.1427469456./10151786207190988/?type=3&theater, created by Rose Stiffler, http://www.ymimissions.org/

created by Rose Stiffler, http://www.ymimissions.org/

I have never had the distinct call from Christ to stay home, sometimes we have to wait or recuperate, but I don’t think we should stay home.  There is someone you can reach, whether it is in the grocery store or on the other side of the world.  There is no doubt in my mind we must share the gospel, but where? Do I believe Jesus called everyone to go across the world? No. Do I believe He has called more people than are going? Yes. Are Christians called to go somewhere, even if it just their own town? Absolutely. Often times we forget our Jerusalem.  What are we doing right in our backyard to tell people in our communities about Jesus and love them the way Jesus does?

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Friday Letters 3.27.15

Dear Spring, I thought we were past this?  Freeze warning tonight? Seriously, get it together, wasn’t it 80 yesterday?

Dear AK, Thank you for being honest about being in trouble at school this week.  I know you will work harder to not play during lunch.

Dear Philippians, Way to call me out this morning.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.  2:14-15

I have been grumbling a little too much lately. I get it.  Hey, when is this two month study going to end?  There might be other books in the Bible I need to check out.

Dear Sadie, Thanks for being my accountability partner, not just in exercise but also in the rest of my life!  I am loving our 6 AM torture sessions work outs.

Dear Orchid on my desk, I loved you, I really did.  I know I don’t show it very well but I am just not very good with plants.  I don’t know if you will make it to next Friday, if not RIP.

♥ Elizabeth

I press on…

I have been in the book of Philippians for what seems like an eternity, so much direction in such a small book.   This morning I went over chapter three and was really drawn to verses 13-14.

original source - klove.com/encouraging

As a runner (I use that term loosely), this spoke to me – I press on to reach the end of the race – In the ESV (which is my usually version) reads “I press on toward the goal.”  When I participate in a race, I participate for the challenge, for the experience, and for the t-shirt.  I am never, ever going to win a race, even in my dreams.  My goal is to finish, get my shirt and/or my participation medal, and then reward myself with more calories than I burned a delicious meal. Continue reading

Pick your battles or choose your engagements

As the parent of a toddler, I find I am picking battles all day, every day.  Such as this one…

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Sure, you can wear a crown to school.  Maybe it will promote more narcissism like everyone is talking about.  Everyone loves a narcissistic threenager.  Oh yeah, ALL toddlers are narcissistic, but I digress.

We pick battles every single day: in traffic, at school or work, and in our own homes.  I recently went to an education conference in which the speaker was discussing ways to manage anxious students.  One of the of her suggestions was to

choose your engagements rather than pick you battles.  

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