Depression During Transition
When my husband was injured in Iraq our lives turned upside down. After 24 years in the Army he could no longer work and was forced to medically retire. Suddenly, it was as if he took the uniform off and I put it on. My role of wife, mom, and employee now included caregiver and advocate, all while packing our bags once again; this time with an injured soldier who wanted nothing more than to continue to serve his country.
I proudly wore my title of veteran caregiver. I became obsessed with his schedule, medications, doctor appointments, and learning all that I could about his treatment. I also became an excellent actress by hiding the PTSD rages, nightmares and our pain from losing almost everything we owned from my friends and family. To those on the outside, all seemed great. You know how it is…we only share the best photos and experiences on social media, shut out our friends and relatives, and stopped doing hobbies that made me happy. I found myself depressed, lonely, overwhelmed and burned out.
Transition stinks, period. My husband often tells people not to thank him for his service. It was me that made the sacrifice, not him. He loved being a soldier and was following his dream at my expense. He completed his mission while I picked up the pieces at home. This is so true for military spouses. Yet I loved the life, the uniform, and everything it represents. Being a military spouse is the greatest honor I have been blessed with. It made me more resilient, empathetic, and strong-minded. All military spouses are resilient; we make things happen with or without support. That’s what I did, but I did it all wrong. I did it alone.
When attending a workshop for military spouses, I realized the deep pit I had sunk into. When American Dream U speaker, Charlie Hoehn, shared his personal story about anxiety, I listened in disbelief at the person I had become. Reflecting back on days, sometimes several in a row, when I did not even walk outside of my door. I felt lost in my role as a caregiver, work, and isolation. I had completely stopped doing anything that once brought me joy. But I knew that in order to take care of my hero, I had to first take care of myself. I found the things that I loved again and remembered the importance of rest, play, and relationships. I don’t regret the decision to be my husband’s advocate- it saved his life. I just lost myself along the way.
Military spouses face the same issues; isolation, transition, career and family moves, and yes- anxiety. I hope that you will seek help on your journey through and after military life. Ask for help, find your tribe, and remember to continue to do the things that you love.
Charlie’s book is free to military and their spouses: http://americandreamu.org/play-it-away/
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