• Lessons and the Unspoken Toll of Military Life

  • Sometimes as we traverse military life it can feel as though we live separately from the outside world. We have our own lingo, we take pride in things others take for granted and our day to day challenges are very different from our civilian counterparts. Because of this we need to build stronger coping skills and hone our self care strategies so that we are prepared – especially for the stuff we never see coming.

    I didn’t realize how much I’d been slacking on both my self-care and coping strategies until recently when we were blindsided by a family crisis that none of us saw coming. 5 weeks ago I went to Florida to take care of my mother-in-law for what we thought was a case of pneumonia. What we didn’t know was that we only had a few weeks before she would lose her brief battle with cancer.

    Like many of you, I’m good when my world gets turned upside down. Military life has given me lots of practice (see my journey and strategies in Right Side Up).  I can sort through the logistics, deal with changing circumstances and efficiently blow through a to do list like nobody’s business.  I can be strong for my family in a way I’ve never been.

    Military life taught me that – and I’m grateful.

    But if you look closer, you will see the cracks and the toll military life is taking. Maybe the sudden death of my mother in law has left me raw, but the reality is that the events over the last few weeks have highlighted a few habits or lessons I’ve learned since becoming a military spouse. And they aren’t pretty, healthy or productive.

    Military life has shown me how

    • To hide the cracks
    • To put on a strong face even when I’m breaking
    • To suck it up and roll on
    • To put my feelings and needs aside for the greater good
    • To dismiss tragedy because it’s part of our life

    But more importantly than the lessons, it took losing her to reveal

    The unspoken toll that military life is having on me.

    • I long to put down roots again
    • I resent being far from family and being present in their daily lives
    • I miss the support of lifelong friends
    • I fear that I’m losing a piece of myself with every PCS, Deployment an TDY assignment
    • I worry about my soldier and the impact military life has on our children
    • I hate that I now have intimate knowledge of all things PTS, TBI, Depression, Addiction & Suicide
    • And most of all I long for routine and a simpler life where I’m not waiting for the next set of orders that will turn our lives upside down once again.

    As I write this I fight everything in me screaming to hit the delete button. I mean how can someone who shows people how to embrace military life and see it as an opportunity have feelings of resentment and anger toward it. But I believe in transparency – and right now in this moment this is how I feel.

    And that’s ok.

    It’s ok to be frustrated with your life. It’s ok to have feelings. It’s ok to want something different. And it’s not only ok but it’s important to acknowledge these thoughts and allow yourself to experience the feelings that come with them. It’s healthy and it’s real.

    The tricky part comes when you try to determine what to do with all those thoughts and feelings once you have them. For me I have to get them out of my head (writing helps 🙂 ) and them accept that I HAVE A CHOICE…I can stay in this place and focus on what I hate about this life or I can use my skills and coping strategies to get to where I want to be – a place where I find happiness and peace.

    I choose to move forward.

    As I struggle to find a new normal moving forward means that I’ll be digging deep into my tool box and figuring out how to accept what’s going on and grow through the sadness, challenges and struggles. I’ll uncover where and how these feelings originated and commit to taking action so I can find the balance I so desperately need in my life.

    But for today I’m content that I took that first step in acknowledging how I really feel. I’m grateful to have the ability to put it out there because I know that I can’t be the only one struggling with their feelings about the toll that their military journey is having on their lives.  Trust me when I say there is a price to this life and at times that toll is a big one.

     

    ~Judy Davis, the Direction Diva is a motivational speaker, author and lifestyle blogger as well as a military life and teen suicide prevention expert. Co-founder of DASIUM, Judy’s books Right Side Up  and Warning Signs: Is Your Teen at Riskare go to resources for families and her websites are filled with tips, inspiration and resources for those looking for direction. Connect with Judy at TheDirectionDiva.com

  • “Everyone deserves to realize their fullest potential toward health and well-being, and good mental health care is essential to this”. Dr. Arpan Waghray of Providence St. Joseph Health is also spot on in this video discussing the importance of integrated care toward long-term overall health. The future of healthcare must challenge the way we look at patients and begin integrating [...]

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    As I browse my social media feeds I notice so many people are fed up and unsure of the direction of their lives. It reminded me of a post I wrote a couple of years ago when my son was stressed about what he would do with his life. Fast forward nothing he even considered was to be his path; life took him in a totally different direction. And it's more than ok not only for him, but for any of us [...]

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    You may have noticed I've been a little quiet lately.  Between the passing of my mother-in-law, supporting my husband, handling military life and dealing with all the feelings of my own, I haven't had the focus to do much else than the bare necessities. And I have been feeling guilty for taking a much-needed time out from anything that drains me physically or emotionally and just staying in my[...]

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    Sometimes as we traverse military life it can feel as though we live separately from the outside world. We have our own lingo, we take pride in things others take for granted and our day to day challenges are very different from our civilian counterparts. Because of this we need to build stronger coping skills and hone our self care strategies so that we are prepared - especially for the stuff[...]

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    Have you ever noticed that sometimes in military life it seems as though every time you turn around someone or something  just keeps getting in the way of your dreams?  It may feel like for every idea you have or action you take there is someone out there telling you it can't be done or how it won't work.  They may even share a suggestion as to how to do it "the right way". After church [...]

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    As we kick off Mental Health Awareness Month I want to begin with some insight that my son had over the weekend into how social media really steals the joy from our lives. He shares this piece of writing with me and I was struck by how it opened my eyes to the connection between social media and our military mental health. His excerpt highlights the reality of living with the challenges of [...]

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