Grief – Resurrection – Mission: Life as Mom in Grad School

27 03 2017

It is my Spring Break – alas, I have a bit of energy to blast a blog post.

I just read an article from the Presbyterian Outlook magazine regarding the first words Jesus spoke to his grieving  disciples in the first moments they meet him after resurrection. The author emphasized Jesus’ first words to be words of peace and then encouragement to send them back into action with the good news that he is alive, has conquered death, and is God incarnate (God/human) whose mission is to point people back to a genuine life of loving God and loving one another. Having just come out of a very emotionally and physically intense seminary quarter of study this past Tuesday (I was granted an extension on a final paper) and getting ready to start back into studies on Wednesday my soul somehow resonates at a perhaps lesser level in experiencing this cycle of working hard, falling into grief, surprise at resurrection, peace and then having to get myself back on task. Actually I feel this almost every quarter.

It doesn’t seem to be a very healthy cycle, but I’m almost certain it is normal for most graduate school students to have a similar experience we have ten weeks on the quarter system to open ourselves up to a fire hose of information with a requirement to filter what we can to produce deep theological and even new and surprising work. At the start, this doesn’t seem too daunting, but by the end it feels like one of those survivor type reality shows where you’re exhausted trying to get to the end and yet working as a team to hold one another up to accomplish the task together. We all have some type of obstacles trying to take us out through the quarter – finances, family, friendships, negative interactions with professors or struggles to complete the workload, work outside of school, health concerns, and more.

My obstacles this past Winter quarter have been a combination of timing of events:

  • Working through the beginnings of a major transition with our church that began the same week as winter quarter and added hours and emotional strain on church members and myself;
  • My husband’s structural engineering workload going overtime because the weather is getting warmer and people can build;
  • Deadlines or major events occurring at the same time for our daughter’s activities – normally it isn’t an issue to take them to a band/orchestra rehearsal, or an every other week girl scout troop meeting, or a sports practice. The difficulty was that all the concerts, cookie sales, basketball games, softball startup events, gearing up for martial arts testing and things requiring extra effort happened throughout the same three weekend/two week stretch of time – including my school finals week(s).
  • Also, ADHD – predominantly inattentive, is something I’m still learning to identify how my life is affected by this and trying out new strategies of which are and some are not effective and from there working to create new habits. However, it is not an easy feat to re-work forty years of very ingrained coping mechanisms to help my habits become a bit more healthy not only for myself, but my family, those I work with and serve, and those with whom I study.

All of this throws me into a frenzy at the end of each quarter and a type of exhausted grief and panic wondering if I will pass, am I worthy of continuing on for a Master of Divinity, and am I an imposter just thinking I can do this? Then by grace and with encouragement of God, professors, co-workers, family, and others I get the work done and anxiously await my grades and sleep – or stare at a wall – a lot. My grades come through and I pass – sometimes with ‘As’ sometimes with a C – but in my mind, a pass is a pass. I am overwhelmed with relief and peace. A few days later I begin receiving emails from Spring quarter professors with a list of books to quickly acquire and assignments to begin working on and have completed for the first day of class. Break and vacation are flexible terms in the life of a graduate student – we are quickly back on mission an ready to start the cycle all over again. Somehow we make it through. I am a part-time student (approx. 8 credits/quarter towards 120 credits total), in my third year, and still have two or three years of this mission left to go — Wheeeee!





Adult ADHD & Me Part 1: Discovery

21 01 2017

Have not blogged here in a while. The last three posts have been products from the past brought to light or shared thoughts from others.

I think I’ve been quiet because there is one topic I’ve so badly wanted to blog about but either needed more time, experience, research information, processing, courage, understanding, etc. And as I type that sentence I realize my topic is what causes me to need all of that before I blog – or do most anything in life.

Let’s just say that – as most all of us are – I’m continually on a self-discovery journey and ever since my last years of undergrad college over 15 years ago I’ve been trying to figure out what is ‘wrong’ with me. At first depression combined with co-dependency, then no it is actually anxiety and that causes the depression, then the therapist that told me to pray for my husband more and I would be cured, then Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (hormonal/chemical imbalance – PMS for 2.5 weeks a month), and then ‘busy mom’ syndrome.

My newest diagnosis came when I stepped out of my personal bounds of respecting the diagnosis of the  doctor I met with telling me I have “busy mom syndrome” – to whom I had been sent by a therapist (who worked with me on the PMDD but also life coaches women with ADHD) to be evaluated by since my health insurance would cover the visit. I returned to my therapist and said I normally respect the diagnosis of doctors but I just couldn’t take this diagnosis that felt like a slap in the face after a 10-15 minute ‘interview’ with only a list of the DSM-V criteria and questions about my present but not my past to be screened for hyperactivity that I already knew I didn’t have. So I went in debt to be evaluated by a psychologist who specializes in testing for and diagnosing and four hours of a battery of testing over two month’s time (because he broke his leg and needed surgery mid-evaluations!). I honestly was not searching until someone told me I had it but I needed real testing words and numbers to help explain somethings about me that couldn’t be explained by other conditions/mental illnesses. The funny part was I was giving a choice at the very end to decide whether or not I thought my brain functioned as a brain with ADHD.

The psychologist said that in every test except for one, and except for the evaluations by two persons close to me, I have a non-hyperactive version of ADHD. The trouble was he was supposed to make his diagnosis based on the results of a certain number of questions from one test and personal evaluations and they were not helpful. He concluded that the reason I did score for ADHD on these is because in the past 39 years of my life (just turned 40 in December!) I have managed to be able to somewhat function and get through life by developing many coping mechanisms and habits to help get around. However, there are ways life would be so much simpler without having to make sure I had all these coping mechanisms in place every morning before getting out of bed. Without any pressure, he said often medication can be helpful and if I wanted to try it he would writing a letter of diagnosis for me to bring to my doctor. Having already discussed medication options with my therapist I was OK to give it a try.

Ironically – I ended up taking this letter back to my PCP who referred me to her ADHD diagnosis doctor who was the one who diagnosed me with “Busy Mom syndrome”. So a few months later I was back in her office with this letter and she was floored. She took it well and I discovered she is a younger doctor who is still learning a lot about the world of ADHD, all the ways to assess it and all the ways it can be manifest in  person – for instance it will be different in a 40 year old woman compared to an 8 year old boy. I’m grateful she took this well without showing offense and I think I’m sort of a new lab rat for her. I started on a low dose of a stimulant medication to treat Inattentive/Non-Hyperactive ADHD. This type of ADHD means I physically may not be all over the place – but my mind on the inside is a computer with several windows and an internet browser with many tabs open, pretty much all the time. Sometimes the windows and tabs are revisited and closed and many times they are not.

This diagnosis explains so many things about my life and I will blog about that next.

I also want to blog about what I observe regarding my PMDD, Depression, and Anxiety diagnoses with a new ADHD diagnosis in the mix.

Additionally I want to discuss what has been difficult now that I am armed with this information about myself – because it isn’t all fun and 100% life improvement now that I know.

So there you go. My ADHD revealed to the world right here on my blog. If you need someone to share your story post it here or connect with me through About.me

Here goes nothing as I hit the submit button!








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