Your husband deploys. You find yourself worrying about him, where he is, and what he is doing. Your body aches from the sleepless nights. You feel drained and find yourself being snippy with your children, friends, family, or co-workers. You mind is constantly going to stay on task. For many of us, we read this and think, “Oh, she’s talking about the cycles of deployment!” But, really these are also signs of anxiety and depression.
There are studies that suggest women experience depression & anxiety up to twice as often as men. Hormonal factors may contribute to the increase rate of depression; such as menstrual cycle changes, pregnancy, miscarriages, postpartum period, pre-menopause, and menopause. Women may also face unique stressors such as responsibilities both at work and home, single parenthood, and caring for children and aging parents. What is surprising to me is that this study is talking about your every day civilian woman. If you read through it again and think of the wife you know that had her last child while her husband was deployed, or the one who is raising four children under the age of 6 on her own, it takes on new meaning. We go through these “moments” while dealing with deployments, PCSing, and just every day military life. If a woman with out those factors is at risk, just think where that puts us.
I am disappointed with the military for not putting more information
out about this subject. There are resources, but it isn’t talked
about as much as it should be. Wives should be getting this
information before every deployment. Period. Our husbands get briefed
on it, heck they hold training’s on it. The wives don’t go through
Boot Camp. We don’t get screened for depression. Very rarely is
anyone looking for signs. People just write it off as, “Oh, her
husband is deployed/deploying”. Somehow we were over looked. I can’t
tell you how many times I have seen a fellow wife battling with
depression or anxiety. It is heart breaking and scary. And a lot of
the fault is our own. We have created this unrealistic idea of a
Super Wife. This would be the wife that is always happy, upbeat,
perfectly dressed, maintains a gym issued body, her kids are polite
and always clean, she works, volunteers, and has time to host tea
socials at her perfectly clean and organized home. Many of us
don’t admit that we have a problem. We all think that we should be
able to handle this. What we are doing to ourselves and the
example we are setting for the new wife watching all of us is sad. We are
thrown into a life that was made for our husbands, not us. Granted,
the Military is trying to be more “family friendly”, but let’s face it,
if we want things to change, we have to be proactive. And the first
thing we need to do is take care of ourselves. No one is going to
come to your home and evaluate your performance and look for symptoms
and you are defiantly not going to receive a counseling chit from
anyone. We can’t compare ourselves to our active duty spouse. Their
issues and situations that they have to deal with are sometimes far
from our reality. But, that doesn’t mean that we are not faced with
our own challenges and hardships.
Our biggest obstacle is being a single parent or for those who don’t
have children, the feeling of being single again. Yes, we know that
we are married and have that special someone somewhere, but that whole
absence makes the heart grow fonder stuff is not so often true. I
don’t even know where my husband IS!? I can’t call him, see him,
write him, and most of the times not even an email. That alone is a
reason to have “issues”. Throw in finances, making major decisions
like buying a home or car, and Murphy’s Law and we all need counseling.
Yes, counseling. It is something that we need to start thinking of
differently. Just because you are feeling depressed, doesn’t mean that
you need medication to fix the problem. Some times just talking to the
right person can get you back on track. You need to think of it as
life maintenance, not a last resort on your way into divorce court.
It is covered by Tricare and is something that I feel everyone should
do when faced with Deployments. There are family therapists that can
not only help you and your husband, but be there for you when your
husband is deployed. Also, our children are in need of this too.
Again, there wasn’t a hand book given to my husband in boot camp or to
me when we arrived at our first command on how to help our children in
this life style. They deserve a safe place, where they can say
anything and everything that maybe they don’t want to say in front of
Mom and Dad. I know many families that do this together. And I have
always seen wonderful thing come of it. These are also the couples
that have been married for 15+ and you can tell they love each other
and are truly happy. Some of you reading this are relating, but still
won’t take the leap and talk to someone. So, I did some research and
found a website that can help you decide if you are suffering from
depression, anxiety, or something else. It is a free mental health
assessment at http://www.militarymentalhealth.org.
It is for Active Duty, DOD, and family members. I hope that if you
take the assessment, you will follow through with the results.
Something that we can all do to avoid stress, anxiety, and depression
is to learn to ask for help. I say “learn” because we all stink at
it. I don’t know any military wife that is good at it. If you are, I
want you to email me, because I want to meet you. Again, the Super
Wife Flag is blowing in the wind. We seem to think we have to do it
all, that it’s the norm and if we can’t, we are a lousy military
wife. But, the opposite is true. We are stronger together. None of
us alone are as strong as we are when we work together. Our
friendships are so amazing and special; why not act on what we offer.
We all offer to help one another, so why is it so hard to ask? I
personally would rather eat dirt than to ask for help, but I’m
trying. I urge everyone that reads this to start talking about
it. Ask your command or FRG to have someone speak on the topics. Use
the Fleet and Family Support Center and Chaplain. I’ve received many
emails about “deployment blues” and next week I will be answering
those questions and talking in detail about the problems we face and
how to handle the holidays when your husband is deployed.
Questions, comments, topics you’d like discussed? Email Me: firstname.lastname@example.org