Friday, September 30, 2011

Safe at Church

I suspect Daughter is depressed. It's hard to know for sure what's going on with her, as she refuses to talk to me about what's bothering her. She says I scare her. When pressed, she acknowledges it's not anything I've done, but is rather about her. That doesn't make it any less frustrating, though.

For the last few days, I feel like she can't speak to me without either yelling or whining. She began this morning by cussing out her hair. It wasn't doing what she wanted it to do, apparently. I am avoiding interaction with her as much as possible. Any attempt to converse with her seems to end with her yelling at me, so I don't see much point in engaging her.

Yesterday her program was closed for a staff in-service, so she was at the church. It was a busy day. We finished the newsletter, edited a brochure about our mission programs, and finished the bulletin for Sunday. I had a lunch meeting, and then a meeting with a couple of board members about rewriting our by-laws. Administrative Assistant put Daughter to work sorting music. It took her a while, but she completed the job. When she was with AA, she was fine. When she'd wander into my office, she'd start whining. When AA left for the day, she came into my office and pouted on the love seat, eventually falling asleep.

Last night was choir, and we went back to the church for it. Daughter decided she wasn't going to sing. She sat in my office and pouted. I got some work done. I had to go back and finish a few things that I didn't get done during the day, but we stayed because while we're at the church around other people, she's nicer to me. I get tired of being the target of her frustration.

I asked one of the women about her son as she was leaving. Her younger son has autism. He is currently in an assessment program that will lead to his placement in a job training program. He's living in a dorm and his mom says he's the happiest she's ever seen him. He feels like he fits in there. We've had conversations, and she knows what I'm dealing with. She looked so happy and relaxed last night. She just joined the choir this year, feeling like she couldn't do it while their son was at home struggling through school. She looked at Daughter, who was looking pathetic. She simply said to me, "Your day will come." My response was a simple thanks, but inside my heart was a little lighter. She reminded me there is hope.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Saw Psychiatrist yesterday morning, and heard lots of news.

There will soon be an opening at the one residential placement I thought had potential for Daughter. I will visit again, gather more information, and then Program Manager, Case Manager and I will sit down and strategize about how to help Daughter through the transition. She doesn't know I've been looking at placements. I didn't want her to get anxious when I didn't know how long it would take.

Case Manager is leaving to take a different job. She's going to talk to her supervisor about the importance of Daughter having a skilled, long-term case manager. We don't want her floating among temporary case managers.

Program Manager will be off most of next week as she moves. Daughter does not do well when Program Manager isn't there. Daughter has been struggling at program this week due to staff changes there and additional people beginning at the program.

Daughter has decided she wants to go to Chicago. She's furious because I won't let her go. I told her that when she's not safe in our own kitchen unless all the food is locked up, she's not safe to travel alone. She has managed to save almost $50, so she offered to buy my airline ticket so I could go with her. Psychiatrist increased her new anti psychotic yesterday. She also recommended we look into EMDR therapy for her. Unfortunately Blogger is not being cooperative this morning, so I'm unable to link to information about it, but a google search will turn it up. I've long been interested in this, but there weren't opportunities in Tiny Village. Case Manager is checking it out to see if they have someone in the agency who can do it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


When I came to Capital, there were a significant number of votes against calling me in the congregational meeting. Last night we removed a member from membership at her request. While she wouldn't tell me this, she made it clear to others that she is opposed to women in ministry. In fact, she wouldn't even talk to me. She wouldn't answer my calls or respond to my messages. I finally wrote her a note. She left a message on my voicemail at the church in the middle of the night informing me that any conversation would be a complete waste of time.

I was distressed about her departure, but then I realized two things. Several people left the church before I even started, but 70% of those who voted no are still involved in the church. It helped, too, that Sunday a man who had left the church years ago was here. I had visited with him after a tragic death in his family. We had a board meeting last night, and it was very positive, even as we dealt with the woman's request to be removed from membership. I had outlined what I had done when I heard she wanted to leave, and how she had responded. They had no problems with how I responded. I have to keep reminding myself that I can offer, but I can't force anyone to talk to me or take my advice, including Daughter.

She got her cell phone back yesterday, and spent much of today texting and calling me trying to convince me that I had to come get her immediately. Of course it didn't work, but it was very disruptive to my day. I think that the phone will stay home tomorrow.

I have a personnel meeting tonight, and wasn't thrilled about having Daughter hanging out here during the meeting. One of the saints called this afternoon and asked if she could take Daughter to a movie tonight. Problem solved. Daughter's happy, and so am I.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Brother, Sister-in-law, and Baby Nephew came to visit yesterday after church. Baby Nephew just turned 6 months old. He's a wonderful baby. He is a very happy little guy, who was very willing to hang with Daughter or me. He loves to dance. He's not crawling yet, but he loves to hold onto some one's fingers and walk. Daughter loved spending time with her little cousin.

After we ate, Daughter got up on her own and cleaned up the kitchen. I was impressed. She did go downstairs a couple of times when she got overwhelmed, and that was fine. They stayed long enough I ended up feeding them supper, too. It was wonderful to just sit around talking and enjoying Baby Nephew.

Sister put an offer on a house yesterday. Far Away Sister and I are concerned about the advice her realtor gave her. Sister has been living with her ex-husband. She was living with him while he tried to refinance their home, but the bank wasn't cooperating, and he's finally agreed to do a short sale. Sister operates based on emotion, and trying to get her to look at things from a financial perspective is almost impossible.

When she sent me a link to the house she liked, I did some research online, and suggested this might be a short sale. She insisted it wasn't. Her realtor finally looked at the same information I had found and talked to the listing agent. It turns out that if the sellers don't get a full price offer, the sale won't cover the balance on their mortgage. The house is listed way above market value. I suggested Sister may want to do some research, but she didn't see the necessity of it.

Brother lives closer to Sister than I do, so he took some of the boxes from my move home for Sister to use for hers. Sister has never live alone. Technically, she still won't be living alone, as she has Short Niece, who is almost 7. It will be a big adjustment, though, and we are anticipating that she will need lots of support.

I'm glad we're closer to family, and can spend a Sunday afternoon/evening just spending time with them.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Daughter was continuing to do well until she experienced a major trigger of her PTSD yesterday afternoon. One of the men at her program was insisting in a phone call with his house manager that the police be called over abuse he claims was inflicted on him by another man in the house. Daughter dated the other man briefly. She called me, sobbing hysterically. She couldn't handle it, she wasn't safe, I needed to come get her immediately. I calmed her down. I told her I had confidence in her ability to keep herself safe.

Last night she wet the bed. She was still worrying about what she heard yesterday this morning. I explained that the judicial system, and assured her that it would take more than just the claims of one man to get the other man in lots of trouble.

She is back to being very volatile. Hopefully she'll recover more quickly this time.

Friday, September 23, 2011


I'm doing more shopping since I moved to Capital. I suppose that what happens when you don't have to drive over 10 miles to get to a store. Today I went to the overgrown farm market. I bought some apples, grapes, and cheese. This place started as a farm market. It has been added to over the years multiple times, so it is kind of a maze. They have fruits, vegetables, ethnic foods, tons of cheeses, a broad selection of beer and wine, bakery, flowers, a garden center, bulk candy, including a large selection of sugar free stuff. What I love is that there is grand piano in the floral department, so often there is live music when I go in to do my shopping. We didn't have anything like it in Tiny Village, that's for sure.

Last Friday I purchased a new stove,and it was delivered today. It's a double oven, 5 burner gas range, and I love it. Hopefully Far Away Sister will get me a check for the last bit ofmy inheritance before the bill comes. I've got a pork shoulder cooking on the simmer burner for pulled pork. I made tortilla pizzas for supper, and I also just finished a batch of yeast rolls. This is the third date we've had scheduled for Brother and his family to come. I hope that he will make it Sunday. At this point I'm planning to serve pulled pork sandwiches, au gratin potatoes, and some kind of apple dessert. I guess I'll have to stop playing with my stove and do some cleaning and sermon writing tomorrow so I'll be ready for company....

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Last night was the second session of a Bible Study I'm leading on spiritual gifts. The material is designed to engage in Scripture in ways that encourage us to be formed, rather than informed. I was concerned about how some of my people would respond to some of the activities. Last night they divided into small groups to draw the outline of a body and then label different body parts according to the function it represented in the church, which we understand to be the body of Christ.

There were 16 participants, so I told them to divide into groups of 2 or 3 and that husbands and wives had to be in different groups. Each group took a large piece of paper and a marker and went out to find a table where they could work. I was afraid some might consider it dumb and resist participating. I couldn't have been more wrong. We ended up with 5 drawings which we posted in the room. Each group explained their pictures. The group was impressed by both the similarities and differences in the drawings. We saw different perspectives in the different drawings. We also decided that the 5 different pictures combined for a more complete picture than any of the single pictures provided. The enthusiasm behind the task was great. One group was 3 men who had been executives in their work lives. I was concerned about how they would view the project. They went into one of the children's classrooms and sat at the low tables. They got into it, with much laughter coming from the room. They informed us their picture was supposed to look like Elvis.

While I was downstairs leading Bible study, Daughter was hanging out upstairs with Administrative Assistant. AA told Daughter it was good to have her back-- the change in her is amazing. It's like a switch flipped in her brain, and she is back on track. Next week her therapist will start working through a series of videos about dating, relationships, the differences between men and women, etc. Hopefully that will help her deal with male friends more appropriately.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I had a couple of texts today from program manager. Daughter wasn't feeling good, Daughter was sleeping, should they make Daughter eat.

Daughter didn't call me. She didn't call me all day. When I picked her up to bring her to see Therapist, she was happy. She told me that respite had not gone well. A woman was dropped off in the middle of the night and tried to come sleep in Daughter's room, waking her up. Someone else spent most of the night screaming, making it difficult to sleep.

She asked me to find a different place for her to stay next time. She didn't try to lay a guilt trip on me. She didn't tell me I should never leave her again. She isn't complaining about the need to go back to the church for Bible study. Her therapist was double booked, so she had to wait longer. She didn't complain or protest. She requested Chinese food for supper when we leave, but told me whatever I chose would be fine.

I'm impressed. I'm also very grateful. Maybe we've weathered this storm.

R & R

I'm enjoying my R&R: Retreat and Respite.

Daughter called yesterday evening, sounding happy. I shared wonderful conversations about life and ministry with my colleagues yesterday evening. It is a wonderful gift to be able to take this time away to worship and reflect on ministry. I am so grateful that I am no longer isolated, like I was in Tiny Village.

The colleague I saw on the board at the one residential placements is here, and I shared with the group that seeing his face was like a message from God. I realized last night that our small little rooms here at a Catholic retreat center are larger than some of the rooms I have looked at for Daughter.

Another of my colleagues here was at camp the week Daughter was at the high school camp. He said that they brought a special helper in to work with her that week. He said the other campers were good with her, but as I suspected, she really didn't fit in well at the high school camp. Next summer we'll stick to the special needs camps.

We have a program this morning, and then, after lunch, I will head back to the church. I wasn't going to bring my computer with me, but I had some writing I needed to finish for Administrative Assistant last night. I'm going to write one more article for her this morning before I pack up the computer and take it out to the car.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Busy Week

I'm in the midst of a very busy week. I can tell it's fall. Daughter is feeling neglected, so I'm being intentional about spending time with her and having her sit next to me for some cuddle time. I'm doing a program at a church on the other side of town at noon today, and then this evening I head out for my retreat after dropping Daughter at respite. She's not happy about it, but is accepting it (at least for right now).

I'm leaving my computer at the church most nights now so that I'm not tempted to continue working in the evening. As a result, my posts may be a bit more sporadic. Things are going well here at the church-- some exciting things are happening and I'm seeing a new openness to new ideas and change. I can see God at work in and through us, and its an exciting time to be involved in ministry here.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Marathon Sunday

This morning was the first morning that I taught adult education at 8:30 (worship is at 10:00). It has turned into a marathon day. Daughter is napping on the love seat in my study, and I'm taking a short break before getting into the next task.

I had the sermon outlined and the powerpoint started when I left Thursday. Since I was so confident, I didn't look at it again until late yesterday afternoon, when I discovered a computer crash had erased all I had done. So, I rewrote the sermon and struggled to remember who had posted the quote on facebook that I had wanted to use (I finally remembered and found the quote on her wall). When went to bed (late) last night. The sermon had been rewritten, and I'd pulled a bunch of images for the powerpoint, though they weren't yet in order.

Overnight I realized I needed to rework the middle section of the sermon. I was up before 5:00 this morning. I reworked the sermon, and then showered, dressed, and did hair and make-up. I was to the church by 7:00. I finalized the powerpoint and put it on a flash drive which I placed on the AV desk for the AV people to find. I was downstairs setting up the portable projector for adult ed when someone came to get me. There were two men who wanted to speak to me. They wanted me to write a letter to my Senators about a situation in an Iraqi refugee camp. Both of them had family members in the camp. They had letters ready for my signature, but I told them I wanted to put it in my own words. Since they were presenting the letters tomorrow, I promised to have them ready this afternoon.

After a quick fast food lunch, we came back to the church so I could write the letters and get ready for nominating committee this evening. After the men pick up the letter I will drop Daughter off with one of the saints and go lead worship at the nursing home. Usually, Daughter goes with me, but I decided it would be best not to take her into the nursing home when she has a cold. I'll pick her up after worship and come back to the church to train the nominating committee. If that goes well, we should get home about 5:00.

Now it's back to work. Usually my Sundays aren't quite this busy. This is going to be a very busy week, so I want to get a head start on it today. Fortunately, Daughter is cooperating. I'm grateful.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Bad Combination

While Daughter has improved, she still is running on the manic side. She also has a cold. The result has not been pleasant. She's irritable. She doesn't feel good, but she wants to do things. So she went between telling me she was sick to do anything and insisting I had to take her out to do something exciting or let her undertake a big project. It was not fun.

I am concerned about sending her to respite Tuesday. She was sobbing and asking not to go to the new place today. She wondered why she just couldn't go with me. I'm feeling very torn about the whole thing. I wish she were a little more stable. Hopefully she'll be recovering from her cold by Tuesday. Hopefully.

Group Homes and Progress

Yesterday morning I checked out two more group homes. We walked into the first and were overwhelmed by the odor. The owner has cats, and apparently doesn't clean the litter box regularly. We were shown two empty beds, both in shared rooms. One was adjacent to an outside door. The other was shoved against the wall with 2 feet of open closet and enough space to walk beside it. The owner didn't want Daughter moving in, though even if she had, we wouldn't have let her. The other residents are older and are all content to set around watching TV all the time.

The second place has 12 residents. There are two rooms that might be coming open. The first was right next door to a young man and very close to a not well secured kitchen. Not going to work. The second room had potential. The downstairs had 6 bedrooms, and all the residents downstairs are women. They have 2 cats at the house. The common areas are larger than we've seen at other homes (who try to cram in as many beds as possible so they can make more money. I've decided that home is an opportunity. They had poster boards with pictures of various activities they had gone to as a home. On one of the boards I saw a familiar face: a friend and colleague. Daughter knows him. The staff member said he comes and visits them, and some of the residents go to his church (where Daughter and I have been). I will see him Tuesday, so I will be asking his opinion of that particular group home. There aren't any openings right now, though, so we're back to waiting. There is also a woman close to Daughter's age at that facility.

Daughter continues to improve. The current challenge is she has a cold. When she has a cold, she tends to be very dramatic about how much she is suffering. I decided I wanted an omelet for breakfast this morning, and I didn't want to cook. I told her if she was up and dressed in 10 minutes, I'd take her to breakfast. When we got to the restaurant she pushed the menu away. "I can't eat" I didn't respond, so she picked out an omelet she wanted.

When the food came, she complained that the cheese in the omelet wasn't real cheddar. I didn't respond. She ate the potatoes, and then dramatically pushed her plate away. I ignored her. She pulled the plate back and ate most of the omelet. She told me she was too sick to walk today, and she needed to go to the store to get ingredients for the supper she wants to make tonight. I informed her that if she was too sick to walk, she's too sick too cook. She has decided she's going to go for a walk....

Friday, September 16, 2011

Women Rock!

I was in the middle of mowing the lawn when I realized the rear view was about to fall off. It was plastic, and had broken. I came in and did some research on line, and found out that many people had had this problem with this particular mower. I could try to return it for a refund, but that wouldn't get my lawn mowed. I also discovered that some other brand wheels would fit. I got out my socket set and removed the wheel, and then headed to the local lawn mower repair shop. I walked in and and saw a man behind the counter. I handed him the wheel, and explained I was looking for a replacement. He asked the brand, and I told him. He repeated, and a woman, who I hadn't noticed, corrected him as to the brand, explaining that he was naming the engine brand, but the mower was made by the other company I had named. He came back a minute later. "We don't have it. If you get me a part number, I can order it."

"Do you have something else that might fit?"

He replied with more than a hint of condescension in his voice, "Ma'am, they are not interchangeable."

"I realize that, but I also know that other brands will sometimes fit."

The woman came over with a wheel. "Will this work? Then we won't have to send it back."

He looked skeptical. I took the broken piece and placed it over the hole. "Same size. Do you have a ruler or tape measure?"

He said, "They aren't the same," and walked off in disgust. She pulled out a tape measure and carefully pieced my broken wheel back together. She measured. The measurements were identical. I bought it, as well as the second one they had ordered for a customer who never bothered to pick them up when they came in. I told her I'd be back if they didn't work.

Within 30 minutes of realizing I had a broken wheel, I was back mowing the lawn. The yellow wheel above is the replacement one. I am quite proud of myself, and the woman in the store who dared to think a wheel that looked very different might fit my mower. Women Rock!

Letting Go of Dreams

When it comes to paperwork related to Daughter, I'm procrastinating. I was slow filing for guardianship, and slow making copies of the order once it came. I was reluctant to file for home health aid. I procrastinated on paperwork for respite. I'm not thrilled about looking at residential placements. When I adopted her, these were not my goals for her. I was looking forward to watching her become a productive member of society. I dreamed of her going to college, marrying, having children.

I am finding it very hard to let go of these dreams. I didn't file for complete guardianship, I filed for partial, which will be reviewed in several years to see if it is still needed. I feel like I'm giving up on her. Intellectually, I know that's not the case, but in my heart, that's the way I feel. I grab hold of articles that suggest that her brain is still growing and developing. Maybe she will mature and be able to get a job and live independently.

When I go see the other residents of these homes, I want to go running in the opposite direction. She doesn't belong with these people. She's not like that. There's the man who is nonverbal and stamps his feet because he doesn't want the aide to shave him. There are the people who are content to sit in their room all day, doing nothing. They talk about how active one woman is because she goes to a program 2 days a week and she likes to go shopping for groceries with the house manager.

How do I let go of dreams of a career and family to embrace the idea of life in an institution, no matter how small it may be? How do I send my charming, funny, caring daughter to live with people who can't participate in a simple conversation? The reality is, her mental illness and diabetes are bigger issues than her developmental challenges. I have sheltered her and protected her and she does have intellectual limitations, so she can't protect herself with the street smart individuals in the mental illness homes.

Placing her in a residential setting feels like giving up on her. I've always told her that God will never give up on her. How can I give up on her? Part of the issue with guardianship was finding a backup guardian. How do I inflict her on anyone I love? How do I consign her to a public guardian? While I know I'm not abandoning her, on some level, that's what it feels like, like I'm betraying the promise I made to love her and keep her safe.

Being Daughter's mom has not been easy. At the hardest times, I told myself that God didn't call me to be her mom for it to end in tears. Yet that's what it feels like is happening. I remind myself of how well she did when she was at camp this summer. I try to convince myself that this will be like camp, and give her an opportunity to blossom apart from me. I wish I believed that.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Still Struggling

Yesterday I picked Daughter up at her program for an appointment with Therapist at 4:00. When she finished, we went to a fast food restaurant for supper and then came straight to the church for Bible Study. It was about 8:30 when we got home. She did well until she hit the car after Bible study, and the meltdowns began. I think the day was too long and too much for her. She is doing much better, but still can't handle a very long day. She was away from home for almost 14 hours yesterday.

In other news, I tripped over an uneven spot in the sidewalk as I was finishing my morning walk. I hit my knee and hands hard. I don't think I did any major damage, but I'm sitting with my leg elevated and ice on my knee. I suspect I will be very stiff and sore tomorrow morning. I may have to skip the walk for a day or two. As Administrative Assistant pointed out, at least I have tomorrow off to recover....

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Better Evening

Daughter is definitely improving. She was more cooperative yesterday evening. She apologized quickly when she lost control. She told me, "Mom, I'm trying to fight it. I don't like it when I act this way. I don't know why I do it." There's still some paranoia. She still struggles with insomnia. She still has an amazing ability to rage. I gave her a sleeping pill last night to help her sleep. She was up at about 4:00 this morning and in the shower. She'd wet the bed.

I did some more research on the various residential options. The two we will look at Friday had much better licensing reports than the one I saw on Monday and am going to use for respite. They are also both much smaller. One is only licensed for 4 residents. On paper, at least, they look promising.

Today will be busy. Daughter has an appointment with Therapist at 4:00, and then I'm leading a new Bible Study at 7:00. I need to complete preparations for the Bible study today. It will be a busy day at the office, I'm sure.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Glimmers of Hope

I walked almost 4 miles this morning. It was a beautiful day, and in a first, I had two conversations. I'm going to check out a new section of the cross town trail that was recently finished tomorrow morning. A couple who was walking the same route I walked but in the reverse order recommended it. A crossing guard informed me that the temperature is supposed to get down into the low 30's Thursday and Friday with highs in the low 40'. I like fall.

Daughter claims she didn't have any meltdowns at program today. I discovered she'd trashed her room again, so I told her that she needed to clean it tonight. She said, "I can do that."

Case Manager called. She has found two all female group homes for us to look at on Friday. She was not happy with what we saw Monday, and went digging. Both are closer to home, which will make life easier (though not too close-- still 15 minutes or so away).

I spent the day at a regional meeting, and got to see good friends and colleagues. Sister Best Friend and I sat together and ate lunch together. That was nice. Today is looking better than yesterday. Thanks for all the prayers.

Monday, September 12, 2011


This morning Case Manager and I toured two group homes. In the first one, Daughter would have been the 5th resident: 3 men and 2 women. All the other residents were over the age of 60, and several were nonverbal. They had no activities or program. I was considering right up until I found out that 3 nights a week an African American male is the only staff member on at night-- a very powerful trigger for Daughter's PTSD. I couldn't do that to her-- or him.

So then we went to visit a larger facility about 30 miles away. It reminded me of a bad nursing home. There is room for 20 residents. The rooms are very small. The common areas are very small. The food is institutional food at its worst. Daughter will spend the night there next week while I go on an overnight retreat. I won't tell her it's a possible placement. Maybe, by some miracle, she'll like it.

Even Case Manager was discouraged when we were done. Program Manager is going to check out the residential possibilities on the mental illness side of the agency. She thinks that might be a better fit for Daughter.

Psychiatrist was back in town today. Nurse took the email accounts of Daughter's mood swings down to her. She read them over and said, "She's still going up and down. I'll see her on the 28th." I wanted to cry when I read the email.

Program Manager had warned me that she thought Daughter had grabbed some snacks when she was left alone in the office for a minute (Daughter wasn't the only one creating chaos at the program today). From 3:00 until she got home at 5:00, her blood sugar mysteriously jumped over 50 points. She insists she didn't eat anything. I know that's a lie. When I asked what she'd eaten, she stormed out of the house. She wasn't gone long, and when she came back in, she was still mad, especially at Program Manager for talking to me. She kept saying that Program Manager is dead.

That appointment with the psychiatrist seems like a very long way off. I think Program Manager would agree with me.


Today I will tour two group homes. Daughter doesn't know anything about it. I am confident that this is the right thing to do, and it is time for her to move out. Yesterday evening she was ranting about how terrible it was for me to move her here, and how she should have stayed in a group home in Tiny Village's county. She doesn't remember the challenges she had with the sheltered workshop there.

I did some research about the first home we will visit. It is owned by a not-for-profit organization that has been running these homes throughout the state for 30 years. They deal with developmental disabilities and mental illness. They also do job coaching and provide other services. I liked what I read.

I know moving her will be hard. As Program Manger observed, Daughter will go into crisis mode after the move. Daughter was also talking about how she wanted to go back to camp this fall. She wants to get out on her own in a supervised setting. I will sell this as being like camp. Hopefully that will make it easier for her. There are so many things I don't know, so many details that will have to be worked out. Last night I laid awake praying for wisdom and guidance. Hopefully I will walk into one of the two places I see today and know it is the right one for Daughter.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fall Kick Off

Today was the beginning of our fall program. We have been preparing for it for weeks, as we're going to spend the next ten weeks focusing on building a spiritual house. For September we're focusing on our spiritual lives, so today the focus was on learning. As part of our focus, we're "building" a spiritual house out of the boxes that contain a case of paper. Each box is labeled by as specific building stones. Today we had Christ, our Cornerstone, learning, and you as stones we added.

Several weeks ago, we decided that in order to have room to build our building (which will have 21 boxes when it's done), that we needed to change where I did the children's sermon, so we reversed it with the little podium I use to hold my sermon notes. As in many churches, there are many people who sit in the same spot each week. There are two couples who always sat in the row right behind me (I sit in the front row by my podium when I'm not leading). This morning was crazy. We thought we were prepared, but there are always things that come up. I had people who needed me to witness them signing off on the child protection policy. I needed to make sure we had people to lead the dedication of the Gathering Room. There were questions about how we were handling communion. I had volunteers setting up music and a slide show in the Gathering Room following worship, and I needed to make sure they knew what they were doing. A couple was going to talk about the importance of learning, and add a stone to our spiritual house. In short, it was chaotic. When I finally made my way up to my seat, I was delighted to discover the two couples had moved over so they were still sitting directly behind me. And they were pleased that I'd noticed. They said, "You can't escape us!" It made me smile.

Overall, the morning went well. There were a couple of minor glitches, but nothing major. I think our fall is off to a good start. Have I mentioned lately that I love my job?

Identifying the Goal

One of my ongoing frustrations has been that Daughter leaves wet dishrags in the sink. I have explained numerous times to Daughter that she needs to wring them out and hang them up, or they will begin to smell. It hasn't worked. Our laundry room is now in a closet in the half bath right off the kitchen. I move the mildewed rags into the laundry area, and I smell them when I go in to use the bathroom.

This week I pondered the situation. Was my goal to teach Daughter to take care of the dishrags, or to eliminate the odor? Which was a more realistic goal? I remembered my mom putting water and borax in the diaper pail in the bathroom. A trip to the superstore, and I had two sweater boxes. They sit on top of the dryer with water and borax in them. One has the things that can be bleached, the other the microfiber cloths that we use to clean the bathroom and such. I put the lids on them. Daughter doesn't like them (she has to reach over them to reach the dryer controls-- which she's doing daily since she's back to wetting the bed). I love them.

I lost the battle to get Daughter to wring things out, but I won the war, because the mildew smell is gone.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Perspective: The Trigger Behind the Instability

I was talking to my sisters this week, and Sister pointed out that Daughter hasn't truly been stable for years. There have been brief stretches when she was doing better, but overall, it's been several very challenging years. She asked me when was the last time she was truly stable. I began to think.

In the spring of 2007, Daughter was doing well. She'd graduated from high school the previous year (which had triggered some challenging times), and was now settling into her new routine at the workshop with friends. She expressed a desire to make contact with her birth mother. I had always told her that when she was an adult and I thought she could handle it, I'd help her establish contact. Therapist and I had a long conversation about Daughter's desire. Both of us had concerns about the impact that contact would have on Daughter, but she was doing so well we didn't have any reason to delay it any longer.

Daughter had been referring to her birth parents by their first names for years. They had failed to keep her safe, therefore they didn't deserve the title of parents. Parents keep their children safe. So she wrote a letter to J. I showed her some of the material I had saved about her birth family, and we went through it together. J responded. Her response looked like it could have been written by a young child.

Daughter wanted to talk to her, so we called her. They talked for a few minutes, then Daughter handed me the phone. I was talking to J when Daughter came out of the bathroom, sobbing. I quickly ended the call. I held Daughter as she sobbed in my arms. "She didn't sound like a 49 year old woman. She sounded like a child."

"That's part of the reason she couldn't keep you safe. In many ways she was like a child."

One of the reasons Daughter had wanted to talk to J was so that J could answer her questions. Why had she allowed the abuse to happen? Had she known Daughter was being molested? Why hadn't she kept her safe? I had cautioned her from the beginning that J may not be able to give her the answers she was seeking, but she had been determined.

Over the next few days I watched Daughter deteriorate. Finally she couldn't talk about her feelings. She drew pictures: very graphic pictures of deep pain and her own death. We were waiting for an appointment with a new psychiatrist (hers had died). We called up to the hospital where the new psychiatrist practiced. They didn't have an adult psych unit. We had her admitted locally, with the request that she not see a particular psychiatrist.

That hospitalization was a disaster. The entire story is long and complicated, but she was treated by the psychiatrist we requested she not see. A number of things happened that were powerful triggers for her PTSD. Within ten days of discharge, I was having her admitted to a different hospital, one that was further away, and at the request of my insurance company writing a letter to the state licensing board about the first hospital.

She ended up being hospitalized 3 times that summer, and has averaged at least one hospitalization a year since that time. It's now been well over a year since she's been hospitalized, the longest she has stayed out of the hospital since the summer of 2007. I probably could/possibly should have hospitalized her this past month, but I didn't.

This time around she went around me to establish contact with Birth Brother. Once again she is in a spot of deep pain. Once again she is struggling.

I realize that for many adoptive children, contact with the birth family is healing. For Daughter, it has been disastrous. I find myself wondering what would have happened if she hadn't talk to J in the summer of 2007. Maybe we would still be in the same place. I think I remember reading someplace that schizophrenia often appears in young adults. (Her current diagnosis is schizo-affective disorder). But I also remember her late psychiatrist telling me that her problem was PTSD. He pointed out her psychotic episodes were related to the early trauma.

I can't turn back the clock. She hasn't talked to J since that initial, disastrous contact. I can't control her contact with BB, though she says she is going to back off now. I can't erase, though, what has already been done. I do think I'll mention to the team, though, that she may need some help working through the issues her contact with birth family raised. We can't turn back the clock, but maybe we can help Daughter process what's happened since.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Blessing

Daughter was again disruptive at her program today. I got text before noon telling me I should be grateful she was there an not at home with me. I assured Program Manager I was very grateful. A mother was in to talk to PM about how much Daughter's acting out bothers her son. She wondered if he could attend days Daughter doesn't attend-- hard to do, given that Daughter is there 5 days a week. Now here's the blessing: they aren't calling me to come get her after a meltdown. They aren't telling me she can't be there until she's stable. They've put additional staff on to try to minimize the problems. Other participants are threatening to quit because of Daughter, but they aren't kicking her out. I think I'd be annoyed if I was the mother of one of the individuals being bothered by her, but I'm not, so I'm grateful.

PM told me I could be in for a rough weekend. Her recommendation is that if Daughter threatens to kill me again, I have her hospitalized. Fortunately, so far my plan is working. I had the list of work on the kitchen table, and she came in and started working. A couple of times she has seemed to be moving toward a meltdown, but I haven't taken the bait.

She was concerned to find out Brother and family are coming tomorrow. She said she would frighten them. I told her she could go downstairs if things were getting to her. Now she's excited about seeing her baby cousin. Hopefully she'll continue to be cooperative tomorrow.

If she moves to a group home, she will be changing programs. I'd prefer to keep her in the current program, but they are looking forward to her going elsewhere. In fact, Program Manager hopes that the first one I visit Monday morning will work. We'll see. The transition will be hard, wherever she goes.

The Plan

Daughter is not going to hold me hostage to her moods and drama this weekend. Brother and his family are coming tomorrow. I'm going to make a list of the things that need to get done to get ready. I'm going to lock her computer and the remote controls up. When she gets home she will have the option of working with me or pouting in her room. Either way is fine with me. I'm not going to engage her. If she cooperates and the work gets done, she can have her computer back. If not, it will stay in her room while I do the work. If she's in a mood tomorrow, she can stay in her room while I enjoy Brother and his family. I haven't seen Nephew since May, so I know he's grown a lot. I'm looking forward to spending time with all of them tomorrow. I hope Daughter will want to be a part of the fun. If not, it's her loss.


When I dropped Daughter off at her program, she tearfully said, "I love you, Mom. I'm sorry for whatever it is I did." I told her I loved her as she got out, and then as she walked away, I called her back. "Don't you remember threatening to kill me last night?"

"Yes, I remember. But that was yesterday."

She truly doesn't understand that her words hurt, and that the pain can carry over into the next day. I don't know how you teach that.

I talked to Case Manager this morning. We will go visit residential possibilities beginning at 10:00 Monday morning. Further investigation has resulted in more doubts about their suitability for Daughter. It's going to be impossible to find the perfect placement, I know, but I am not sure it's a good idea to put her in a placement where the night staff is a man working alone. The home also doesn't provide any transportation.

There is an all female home for individuals with personality disorders, but she doesn't qualify. Why doesn't she qualify? She doesn't have a criminal record. "So if she finally does hurt me and I press charges, she'll qualify or a placement that could handle her?"

I'm still struggling with what I want to do about Brother and family tomorrow. I stopped at the store after my chocolate chip pancakes, and bought some things with the thought of having company tomorrow. I guess I need to contact them and see if they're still planning to come.

This could be a very long weekend.

Over Sleeping

When I woke up this morning, the bus was out in front. I guess I was exhausted. I'll take her to her program in a few minutes. She didn't wet the bed last night, and she did sleep, apparently. She locked her bedroom door. I guess she needed protection from me. She also left her light on all night, so she probably was afraid to go to sleep again. I realize she's suffering, and feel bad for her. At this point, though, my priority is my own safety, and she has worn me down. After I drop her off, I'm going to eat breakfast at a pancake house. I think I need some chocolate chip pancakes this morning. Okay, maybe I don't need them, but I do want them.

I think I'll contact Brother and Sister-in-law and see if we can reschedule our plans for tomorrow.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tonight's Death Threat

Daughter once again threatened to kill me this evening. What, you may ask, did I do that was so terrible? I said she needed a bedtime snack and got out ice cream for her. Yes, I'm serious. Ice cream. I don't know, maybe she would have preferred chocolate.

It's so ridiculous I have to laugh. I will sleep with my bedroom door locked tonight, and I will continue to keep knives locked up.

She did create a crisis at her program today, and had two other people talking about quitting to escape her drama. She called me to come get her. Of course I didn't. She informed me that she was going quit her program and stay home until she could find a job. Not happening.


Daughter slept last night. I gave her the higher dose of her sleeping pill about 9:00. She went to bed, and I could hear her in her bedroom talking to herself for about an hour. When I got up this morning, she was still asleep. I woke her about 5:30. I asked if she'd been up through the night, and she said she hadn't, in fact, she'd wet the bed. She put her linens in the washing machine before she left.

I'll take wet linens over the manic insomnia of the last few nights. She was calmer last night. She tried to get me to say no so she could get mad at me, but I refused to take her bait. I was tired, and she knew she'd pushed me to my limit. She told me several times that she doesn't mean to treat me badly. She didn't rage when she couldn't engage me. Improvements. I'm grateful. I'm still going to check out group homes on Monday. It's time.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Last Straw

When we saw Psychiatrist a week and a half ago, she said she wanted an update on Friday and then every week. Case Manager and Nurse followed up with an email asking for Tuesday updates. After very graphic updates yesterday and again today, I received an email from Nurse. She just found out Psychiatrist is on vacation this week. Maybe that's why she wanted an update last Friday? No medication adjustments until Monday. Suddenly Monday seemed like a very long way off. Then Case Manager reported on her lunch with Daughter and talked about how well Daughter was doing.

It took a while, but I composed an email that went to the entire team. I said I was delighted that she did so well in public, and was tired of being her target at home. I pointed out that they stirred things up, and then I dealt with the fall out. I said I cope well, but I was reaching my limit. I pointed out she threatened to kill me last night, and that I slept with my bedroom door locked.

Case Manager called about an hour later. She had talked to Therapist and then gone to talk to the residential placement person. Daughter is no longer 6 months away from an out of home placement. There is an opening in a home that technically she doesn't qualify for because she doesn't need that high a level of care, but that they will put her in because they need to fill the space. She would be in a supported living situation with 2 other people. She would have two rooms to herself. There is 24 hour staffing, and the staff is awake all night. They are trained for personality disorders. There is another diabetic in the house.

She is setting up for me to go see the place on Monday. I will rearrange my schedule to do it. It's about 30 minutes away, and Daughter would have to change her day program. That's okay. Program Manager called on her way home and told me this is an unheard of opportunity and to jump on it. She told me Daughter will hurt me someday, it's just a matter of time. Program Manager told me they don't know how I keep dealing with Daughter. I commented that it would be easier to make the transition if Daughter were stable. She pointed out that over the last year any stability has been very short lived. I get caught up in the day to day and don't always see the big picture.

I'm viewing this opportunity as a gift. The transition will be very hard, and we will survive it and be in a better place. I have hope again. It's possible to keep going through the pain when there is hope.

Foiled Again?

I've been giving Daughter the minimum dose of her sleeping pill. Last night I decided to give her the full dose, and see if that would enable her to sleep through the night. It was close to 10:00 when she went to bed. When I got up to go the bathroom at 3:30, she was awake and doing something with a book. I didn't investigate further because I didn't want to engage her. I went back to my bedroom and locked the door behind me. (She was so volatile and making so many threats last night I decided to sleep with my door locked).

When I got up at 5:30, she was in the kitchen, dressed and organizing the homework Therapist had given her. So much for the increase in the sleeping pill helping her sleep through the night. In preparation for lunch with Case Manager, she had researched carb information at 3 fast food restaurants and had written down meals and carbs. She told me she wanted to make a fresh start. Am I optimistic? No, I'm tired. Very tired. The best I can say is that she's someone else's challenge for 10 hours today, and I'm grateful for the break. I have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after 21 years with Daughter, and today I'm on edge.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Taking a Toll

Daughter's current emotional roller coaster is taking a toll on me. I've been walking almost 4 miles in the morning, which helps. It's hard, though, to continue to ignore the verbal abuse and threats. It's not easy, wondering what I can say to her that won't trigger a rage.

Therapist suggested to her today that Birth Brother is feeding into the current crisis. Daughter was furious. Turns out Birth Brother has not been responding to her messages. I think Therapist is on to something. We talked about it some in the car on the way home, and she cried. I reminded her he was damaged, too, and that this is why I had discouraged contact.

She is setting one of the men in her program up to break his heart yet again. They have tried to keep them apart, but as Program Manager said, it's like Daughter's attraction to food. She can't control it.

I'm tired. No, that's not quite right. I'm depressed. I never know when I open my mouth if Daughter will respond by screaming, growling, or laughing. It's hard to keep my balance. I made her the pulled pork she asked for tonight. I bought her pickles and salt and vinegar chips when we stopped at the store to pick up buns. When I had the nerve to ask her to do a chore before she turned on her computer or the TV, she went ballistic. She's done with this family. There are times when I wish it was that easy....

Monday, September 5, 2011

Daughter's Mental State

Daughter fell asleep sometime after 10:00 last night with the help of a sleeping pill. At 3:50, she woke up and the paranoia about her room was gone. I found her when I got up a little after 4:00 sitting on her bed with her computer. I suggested she go back to sleep. She did, and it was almost 11:00 before she got up this morning.

So it looks like she is continuing to cycle. Yesterday she was complaining of being depressed. Today she has worked along side me in the kitchen. I made a bunch of enchiladas for the freezer and at her request, some macaroni and cheese. Actually, I made rotini and cheese, as they didn't have whole wheat macaroni at the food service supply store today.

She chopped onions for me, but then got very irritable. She decided to clean out and organize part of the pantry. She did a beautiful job with it. She'd get mad and announce she couldn't do it, but then would quickly return to the job. I'm staying out of her way right now. Directions from me tend to trigger explosions. She's willing to be helpful, though, on her terms. I do see progress, but we still have a ways to go. We'll be updating the Psychiatrist tomorrow.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Daughter just came running out of her bedroom, shaking in terror. She's convinced someone is outside her bedroom and getting ready to come in the patio door. We checked to make sure the patio door is securely locked, but she wanted to sleep in my bed. I told her it's too hot. She insisted she doesn't feel safe in her bedroom. I told her she could sleep on my bedroom floor. For years she slept on my bedroom floor because she was afraid in her bedroom.
She insists she can't sleep until I go to bed an am next to her. I gave her one of her sleeping bills and sent her in to set up on my floor. Hopefully the sleeping pill will kick in quickly. I feel so bad for her. She is struggling so much. She desperately wants to go out and do things, but when we do, there is a major meltdown when we get home. Tomorrow we're going to focus on mommy and daughter time here at home-- we're going to make enchiladas for the freezer. She probably won't be able to stick with the job, but hopefully it will distract her for a while, at least.

Teaching Self Control

Daughter struggles with self-control. For a month I've been giving her the money for her activities at program instead of having staff hold it for her. She spent too much at the second-hand store one week, but the rest of the weeks she's managed not to spend it all. I give her a little extra, in the hopes she'll learn to save money to buy something bigger. She wants a new computer, so I told her that if she saved $100, I'd help her buy one. She has saved $17 from program, and this weekend she counted all her change (which she doesn't consider to be "real" money), and discovered she has another $10. It will be interesting to see if she can manage to save $100. I'm pleased with the way the experiment is working thus far.
Today we started a second experiment in self-control. I bought some reduced fat cheese sticks at the warehouse store and some beef sticks. I gave her 4 of each to put in the unlocked refrigerator downstairs. I also got out some of my half cup containers and put a larger frozen strawberry in each, and then put sugar free strawberry banana jello in with the strawberry. I gave her 3 of those to put in her refrigerator, and we have another 4 in the refrigerator up here. I explained that she could decide when to eat those things, and when they ran out, I'd give her more, provided she was being responsible about her eating.

She was pleased, and as far as I know, hasn't eaten anything yet. If she can learn self-control, it will open so many options for her. She continues to struggle with rapid cycling. She desperately wants to go out and do things, yet when we get home from an outing she has a huge meltdown. I hope we get the medication figured out quickly!


Today is the day of the Big Event in Tiny Village. Facebook friends have posted about getting ready for it, and I find myself really missing Tiny Village for the second time. The BE is the highlight of the year in Tiny Village, and I always enjoyed it. Always. Even when the church was a sauna and we sat there for over two hours roasting. I also was nostalgiac at Easter, when I missed working with the youth on the Sunrise Service.

I am grateful to be here, but this weekend I've been feeling this longing to be back in Tiny Village. Really, after living there for 14 years, it's pretty amazing that I've not missed it more. I know this is where God wants me to be, which made it easier to leave Tiny Village behind. This evening, though, I will be thinking of them as they gather for the Big Event. Maybe I'll even go to youtube and find some videos that will remind me of it.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Last night I worked the church's concession booth at a college football game.  It was a hot night in a close booth in very tight quarters.  Daughter stayed with Administrative Assistant.  She was with her for about 6 hours and did very well.  She was pleasant and cooperative.

I was impressed and optimistic when I picked her up.  Then we got home.  The meltdown began.  After screams, threats, refusing to take her medicine or go to bed, she finally told me what was wrong.  Her Friend from Tiny Village is pregnant with her second child.  Daughter is jealous, because F has a husband, child, and second one on the way.  She sees F as having a life, and insists she doesn't have one.  She also doesn't have the patience, determination, or whatever it is it takes to get one at this point.  She wants to jump into her own apartment and good paying job without learning how to take care of herself, finish a task, manage her moods, handle money, or even stay home alone.  Anything less of that is not a life, according to Daughter. 

I reminded her again that she had to learn to walk before she could run, and know the letters before she could learn to read.  None of that matters.  She is jealous of F, and I'm holding her back.  I've tried numerous different ways to teach her these basic skills.  She's been handling her own spending money for over a month now.  She's making progress-- in the first two weeks she ran out of money before the end of the week and couldn't do the things she wanted to do on Thursday and Friday.  But even with the progress she's made, she still struggles to understand.  She keeps asking to go to the store and buy a new computer, failing to understand that she can't buy one for the $20 she has saved.  I finally told her that when she saved $100, I'd help her buy a new computer.  I thought that was a realistic amount for her to save, and though it wouldn't pay for a whole computer, it would be a good start and help her learn to save money for big things.  Of course, every other day she tells me to forget the computer and let her buy something else.  Today she asked if she had enough to get her hair cut and relaxed. 

I continue to work with her on food, and she continues to show me that if I leave any food accessible, she will eat.  Even if she doesn't like it and isn't hungry.  I continue to work with her on completing tasks and doing it properly.  She continues to can't (or is it won't?) follow complete her tasks properly and consistently.  If she didn't have diabetes, I could give her more freedom to try things, but I can't let her go out and kill herself. 

I got up and made bran muffins and scrambled eggs with sausage and cheese for breakfast this morning.  I thought that would be a good way to start the day.  She was mad that I wanted her up at 9:00 (she's usually up at 5:30) and decided she didn't like the eggs today (even though she's liked them other times).  It could be a very long weekend. 

Friday, September 2, 2011


Daughter has new glasses.  We spent the morning getting our eyes examined.  She's had diabetes for 11 years now, and no sign of diabetic eye problems, just very poor vision.  Her old glasses are still missing, so we went from the ophthalmologist to a one hour glasses place and got her new glasses.  While they were being made, we got lunch and I picked up some things for my cell phone. 

She is delighted to be able to see again.

We had time to talk in the car this morning.  We decided she won't work the concession stand at the college football game.  She'll go hang out with Administrative Assistant.  She's afraid of having another meltdown.  "Mom, I can't control them.  I hate that I can't control it." 

We also talked about her problems with others at her program.  She sees herself as the victim, even though I know she has been cruel to others.  I pointed that out, but she sees that as her defense.  She's not rationale enough yet to process it all. 

She's improving, but still has a way to go.  I suspect it will take some more tweaking of her medications. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

It Never Fails

So it was about 12:30, and I was telling someone that by this time yesterday I'd had tearful calls from Daughter, but today she hadn't called.  My phone rang.  Daughter was sobbing.  I needed to come get her right that moment.  She couldn't wait until 2:30, when I was scheduled to pick her up. 

I didn't go pick her up.  I did spend several minutes suggesting ways to cope and telling her I had confidence in her ability to manage until 2:30.  By the time I hung up, she was calmer. 

When I went to pick her up (we had a home visit from adult services at 3:30), she came rushing towards me and told me not to get out of the car.  She grabbed my arm, trying to turn me around.  I continued toward the building.  She started screaming, "Some kind of mother you are.  You're talking to the enemy.  I hate you.  You're a b*tch!"  A number of people were outside and their mouths were hanging open.  They couldn't believe that Daughter would blow up like that or treat me that way.  I ignored the outburst, and explained there was no point engaging her when she was so angry.  I also said I'd seen much worse. 

Program Manager asked if Daughter ever hit me.  I'm not sending Daughter to program tomorrow, because we have appointments and commitments.  She wanted to make sure I'd get a break a some point over the long 4 day weekend.  I think they were shocked by  glimpse of my life. 

By the time we got home, Daughter was sobbing her apologies and talking about how much she hated being unable to control her outbursts.  She doesn't want to go out in public or be around people.  It's too embarrassing. 

I'm encouraged, as the swings are not as extreme and the meltdowns don't last as long as they did.  It's progress, and I'll take all the progress I can get.  We are hoping by the time she returns to her program on Tuesday, she'll be better able to handle the situation.  Of course, right now she insists she's not going back ever again.

She had done well most of the day, but Program Manager told me she was like a spider, luring the guys into her web by being all sweet and nice and then saying things that leave them hurt and angry.  Daughter claims she's the victim, of course.  I'll be so glad when we get the new medication figured out. 

Daughter's Request

Daughter needed a sleeping pill last night, but she was up the first time I called her this morning.  She was in a good mood, and moved quickly.  As we sat down to breakfast, she asked, "Did you put one of my new pills in this morning?"

After some clarification, I explained that she only gets the new anti-psychotic at supper.  "But I want to take one in the morning, too!"  I see it as a very good sign that she wants to take the new pill twice a day.  A very good sign!