Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Diagnosis

Brave your storm with firm endeavor.
Let your vain repinings go!
Hopeful hearts will find forever
Roses underneath the snow!
-George Cooper

I was clearing away some brush and overgrowth around Freeman House a few weeks ago and came upon a treasure. A climbing rose bush was hidden under a tangle of leaves that Miss Freeman herself used to call "murder vine". If you looked very carefully you could see the poor rose was trying to climb to safety... trying to wring herself free from the murderous vine. But she needed help. I dug her up and planted her in a sunny garden corner far from scene of the murder vine attack.

And she seems to be thankful. Yesterday when I checked on her she had several sweet, soft roses on her canes. I've read that it's wise to clip the blooms so the plant's energy can go into establishing itself, so I had to, you see, bring all her roses inside. Along with a few others. I gathered them them into a powdery-soft cluster and stuffed them inside my iron wall vase that says happiness. It was significant to me, somehow... the formerly choked roses protected and lavished upon in a secure, iron vase that read happiness.

I went and saw a Christian counselor yesterday. It's a major step for me, I know. I'm writing about this because there's little doubt in my mind that a "well-meaning" person will tell another "well-meaning" person who will tell his or her church which will then publicly pray... or worse... privately whisper. (Families and churches are just made of people, after all. People we work with and shop with and sit at traffic lights with. We're all just people.) But I thought I'd head you all off at the pass and say I'm not embarrassed. That it's good every now and then to find an attentive ear. A different perspective. A little understanding.

So I talked to the counselor. We talked and pried and chuckled and cried (well, I did... a bit). He suggested after awhile that I'm not depressed... not even a touch... but that I do have Acute Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. "What?" I cried. "I'm no Vietnam Vet! How in the world did I get that?!" But I did. He told me I had five minutes to describe what it is that's bothering me. So I did. Afterwards he handed me a little book turned to a description of PTSD. I had just described - in shocking detail - all but two of the symptoms. It's official. I am diagnosed. I am post-traumatically stressed.

I came home and looked it up on the internet. Google returned my search with a top solution: The Department of Veterans Affairs. "Oh geez," I moaned, and snapped my laptop shut.

It's actually a little bit funny to me now. I'm thinking maybe I should volunteer at the local VA hospital... what with us all having something in common and all. Seriously, I'm relieved to know why I've been such a man-on-the-mountain shut in. Why everything startles me and gives me mild heart attacks. Why I keep having these broken-record nightmares. Why I'm so terrified at even the thought of my violent married life and all... and who... it entailed. It's nothing that can't be worked and prayed through. It's just a little stress. It usually goes away with time.

So I feel a little new-ish this morning. Like I better understand my own brain, somehow. I've even developed a few ways to help me deal with the stress. I'm going to keep a rose... a rose that was rescued from the murder vine... in that iron happiness vase so I see it every morning. And if you hear me muttering, know that I'm repeating Proverbs 18:10 to myself. But please, no sudden movements. I'm afraid all us PTSD folks startle easily and we wouldn't anything weird to happen, would we?

Kidding. Only kidding. [Smile]

The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
The righteous run into it and they are safe.
-Proverbs 18:10


Anonymous said...

I know this is going to sound funny...but, I am proud of you! First, for seeking help from someone who is trained to give you Godly counsel...and for stepping up in your transparency. This alone encourages other who admire you to go forth and, if necessary, seek Godly counsel themselves! God did not place us here to "go it alone"....God did a miracle in my marriage with the help of Godly counsel....I am praying and believing God with you!

Anonymous said...

honey after what you went through i am not at all surprised but i want you to know that i am glad to hear youre overcoming it. youre so precious and a fighter and i know that he will use this to develop your character and help other women whove been through the same thing. bless you! connie

Anonymous said...

Brin, I loved the picture you painted about the struggling roses and your own struggle to "wring" free of someone who tried to hurt you. You will move away from this and go on to bloom just like your rose. I am glad you shared your story as it is so rare to find this candidness on blogs and most of the time all you read about is silly things and who bought what and who is going where. I don't reply to your writing much but today I did want to say that I love your honesty and openness. Keep it up. Linda

Sue said...

Brin, I wish I could give you a big ole hug right now! Your post is very special and something you should be very proud of! I've gone through divorce twice ( had to kiss a couple frogs to get to the prince) both abusive in a small way but still enough to change a person. I do believe we have to go through these hardships at times to make us stronger and wiser. I owe each divorce for being the woman I am today and having been blessed with three WONDERFUL sons. Seeking help in any form is a huge step, a positive one! I'm sure you will be helping many women because of it. I LOVED the rose connection, your such a inspriation in so many ways! Promise us that you will keep a rose in the house everyday, you've earned it! Your in my prayers and sending cyber hugs your way!

Rhoda said...

Hi, Brin, what a lovely, thoughtful post today. You're a courageous woman, so I admire that. We sometimes try to go through things alone, sucking it up & putting on a happy face. You're choosing to get help & that will be so good for you in the long run. I've been through divorce too & it is not an easy road. Godly counsel is a very good thing. Keep that verse's a good one to bring to mind when fear takes over. I've been there too.

Southern Hospitality

Beach Girl said...

If I had not seeked Godly counsel I would probably be a basket case today. My first marriage gave me nightmares for a long time and I was glad it was over, but I had to seek help after what we had been through.

Good for you for doing the same!

I have a print by Mary Engelbreit with a little girl hiking down a forest path and in the fork of the road there is a sign that says (pointing one way) YOUR FUTURE and behind her (pointing back) NO LONGER AN OPTION.

That road is behind you and is NO LONGER AN OPTION. Forge ahead, Brin!

Yahweh's Retreat

FrenchGardenHouse said...

Brin, I am so glad I came back,and read this post.

Good for you, for putting this out "secrets" for you. What a great role model for others, who may, at one time or the other, need a fresh perspective, and godly counsel. You go, girl!

I am printing out that verse for my youngest, who has her own past to overcome. Put it on a card on your medicine cabinet, so you can start your day everyday reading it. Smile and love that wonderful Godly young woman you see reflected in the glass. Lidy
The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
The righteous run into it and they are safe.
-Proverbs 18:10

Southern Heart said...

Brin, I've also been through divorce (we're now back together, slowly but surely--), and I had my first bouts of panic about 6 months after that. I'd never experienced anything like that before (I'm usually pretty even-keeled), but I guess that my psyche was finally saying "enough!". I really *should* have gone to talk to someone, but am kind of stubborn about admitting that I can't do something on my own---not my best trait. I so admire that you talked to someone. The strongest, most self-sufficient people I know are the ones who know when to enrich their life with the aid of a professional. Good for you! You love yourself enough to do that. What a self-affirming act!

The roses are beautiful, and I predict a second wind and new bloom soon for you, also. God is listening, and has His hand on you. You know what the most amazing part will be? The additional strength, wisdom, and empathy you are blessed with as/after you experience something like this. It is almost like the spiritual reward after the storm. Your heart will be even bigger and have more truly is a blessing. Keep your focus on that, as you heal and find out, to an even greater level, what an amazing creation you truly are!

Please feel free to write me anytime you might like to talk.

With much, much love,