Why am I telling you this? Because it's true. I had more good days than bad, and on the whole, I was lucky through this because it never got more serious. But remember how I told you that it's too easy to look at other spouses and think they have it all together? I want to tell you that they don't. Or if I'm the only one who will admit it, I don't.
Deployment + life = overwhelming. And there are lots of resources out there to encourage you. I found most helpful the few that admit to you, not just that it's hard, but that at times it's gut-wrenching, painful, fucking awful. Everyone's experience is different, but the same. Maybe you have kids, maybe you aren't married yet, maybe you live on-post, maybe you live off, maybe it's your first deployment, maybe it's your 20th. To be perfectly honest, I don't think any of these circumstances make deployment harder, and I don't think any of them make it easier. Deployment sucks. It sucks. And when you combine it with your personal circumstances, it sucks worse.
Recently, I have seen various groups raising the alarm over rising numbers of veteran suicides. I am so glad to see this because I hope we can erase stigmas, raise awareness and make a change. In being honest with you, I want to stand next to them and raise the alarm over the mental health of our military families. I don't know the statistics for family suicides. I don't know if the statistics are out there. But in my heart, I believe it's a problem.
People will offer to be there, and not actually be there. They will tell you, or someone else, that you aren't handling deployment well. They will say what they want to say without ever truly understanding. But I understand. Everything else in life makes it so much worse. You know what I mean.. the finances, the chores, the friends or lack thereof, the never ending crap that pops up that you have to fix by yourself. You are trying so hard to be strong. Telling yourself you have to be strong. The strongest thing you can do is admit when you need help. It takes strength to reach out and tell someone you are in need. And in this admission, you are stronger than ever before. In this admission, you are my hero. I wasn't even strong enough to do that. I wasn't strong enough to find the resources, or just admit it, or something. And that doesn't make me weak. My troubles do not make me weak. They make me normal.
If you are struggling or in need right now, I want to tell you two things. First, I understand. You are normal. There is nothing wrong with the fact that you are struggling. Deployment is HARD. Second, be strong. Have strength and find whatever it is you need. Here are a few resources I have found:
- Sealed Strength (sealedstrength.org) This is a great group of ladies who will pair you with a penpal. She will write you at least once a month and encourage you.
- Defense Centers of Excellence (http://www.dcoe.health.mil/24-7help.aspx) Here is 24/7, free help. I haven't tried it, but they will provide free information and answers to anyone connected to the military who is in need.
- Military Pathways (http://www.mentalhealthscreening.org/programs/military/) They offer information and mental health/substance abuse screenings. Hotlines and resources are available.
- Military OneSource (militaryonesource.com) Right on the front page is a line for immediate 24/7 help. Throughout the site are other resources.