Tag Archives: relationships

The military and mental health disorders

Today is Veteran’s day and children are out of school and many others have the day off.
My Facebook news feed is overflowing with photos and statements of gratitude toward servicemen and everyone seems truly grateful until tomorrow when there is no longer a reminder to be grateful to those who have fought to protect this country.
I am not saying people aren’t truly thankful but there is little than can be said to those who have sacraficed. We know of the many soldiers that return wounded not just in body but in mind. Like my uncle who returned from the Vietnam war with an undiagnosed mental disorder that soon followed. My very own father had a mental breakdown while serving and mental illness soon took hold and he was given a disability discharge.

We proudly wear the title of “Land of the free and home of the brave” while we have become home of many military mentally ill. Are they brave? Yes! The bravest!! But our freedom has come at a great cost.

How many veterans are homeless in your city due to mental illness and who are we to say it is okay because we are free? Are we simply going to say it is the price we have to pay for freedom? Well, I am telling you that is not okay!

Many of our servicement are left in the balance because their mental issues aren’t considered severe enough. So these men and women are discharged from duty but are considered “chaptered” out for misconduct instead of getting the medical help that they need. This means a less than honorable discharge and no retirement, no student aid or medical benefits (that are promised to them at enlistment).

Often a generic code is used to discharge the men and women that have been released due to a mental health issue or disorder such as PTSD. Because of this there are no records of how many men and women are discharged from duty based on their mental health… which often results in a lack of followup care and medical mental health treatment for those who desperately need it.

We need to take a stand to ensure those that have been discharged from duty do not continue to have conditions that remain downplayed and untreated.

How can we help?

First, it is important to be educated on what is happening with our military and their mental health.

Second, be a voice and spread the word! The more we talk about the issues it brings awareness and can not so easily be swept under the rug.

Third, contact your Congressman or woman. Men and women who have enlisted to protect this nation should not lose their benefits from a diagnosis that is a result of serving this country.

More stories are coming out and though we are not where we need to be progress IS being made. We all need to be a part of the change. This affects those that serve, their families, and their friends.

I have only touched the tip of the iceburg with this topic. If you are interested in knowing more please look up and read the below posts.

http://www.npr.org/2015/10/28/451146230/missed-treatment-soldiers-with-mental-health-issues-dismissed-for-misconduct

http://thinkprogress.org/health/2014/12/16/3604091/ptsd-veterans-benefits/

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Why I hide my depression

My mom tells me I was a strongwilled child. So as long as I can remember I have bucked against the system.
Go ahead and tell me I cannot do something and I will prove you wrong. Being strongwilled isn’t necessarily a terrible thing. Especially when it pushes you to be better. But there are times being extremely strongwilled or stubborn (let’s call it what it really is) can have its downfalls. Like those times you need help but you are so prideful you cannot accept it. Why? Because you should be a strong female that can handle her own.

Well, this mindset has not always been a good thing and has prevented me (many times) from admitting when I am struggling with depression.
I feel this sense of pride, this bullheadedness, that I should be able to hold my own.  There have been times where my husband has asked me why I did not confide in him. Why did I not tell him I was having a hard time?

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Below are some reasons why I often do not admit I am struggling and what I have learned about myself.

#1. I am a mom – my children need me.
Regardless of how I may feel I know I need to be there for my boys. This often results in me making a choice to put on a happy face and going with the flow instead of asking my husband or a friend for assitance.

#2. I have responsibilities.
I have things I need to get done. There are times I want to hide and veg out on the couch but who else is going to clean the house, grocery shop, and drop off and pick up kids from work and school?

#3. I am supposed to be the strong reliable one.
People are relying on me. Plus, many of my friends and family have struggles of their own. How can I add to their stress? I am supposed to be there for them and maybe they will feel I can no longer handle it.

#4. I am embarrassed.
Pride! There I said it. This should probably be #1. I do not want anyone to know about my struggles. I am supposed to be strong. How can I admit that I am weak and need help too?

The bible talks about pride being a downfall to man. (2 Chronicles 26:16)
I know I am only hurting myself when I react to depression with a prideful attitude. It is okay to say I am struggling.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Overall I am learning that it is okay to ask for help or even just admit that I cannot carry the weight of everyone all of the time. There are times I am weak.

I am allowed to tell a friend or family member I am overwhelmed and cannot help out or commit to an outing.
It is okay to confide in my husband about how I have been feeling down and out and just wanted to cry all day.
Most of all it is okay for me to not always be okay. I do not have to feel bad or make excuses for what I am experiencing. I can take the time to refocus and recoup. I am allowed to take care of myself and not feel bad about it.

Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good (physical & mental) health, just as your soul prospers. (3 John 1:2 NASB)

It’s Not About YOU – (When Children Make Bad Decisions)

I have always been open and honest with my teenage boys when it comes to discussing alcohol, sex, drugs, and well, most anything. I have even discussed times when I have fallen short in hope that they would make better decisions in their lives than I had. But even though I always pray that God will give me wisdom and insight to be a good parent, my boys have not always made the best choices.

I recently discovered something about one of my sons that lead me into panic. I cried, man did I cry. I was hurt. I knew I taught him better. I was always a good example in this area but yet… my son’s actions did not reflect any of those things. I wanted to have a fit, sit him down and ask “how can you do this to ME?”

My son at the time was away for a few days and I had decided that the day he returned I was taking him and giving him a good talking to. He would have to see things my way and change his actions.

That night before I would see him, I prayed. I prayed about how to handle the situation.

My prayer was simple “Lord, what should I do? I do not know what to do!” I am glad I prayed. God showed me I was taking my son’s actions WAY to personal. I was hurt and offended… Wasn’t I a good enough parent to prevent this? Where did I fail?

Then I realized something. My son’s actions had nothing to do with me. YES, his actions were against anything I would want for my son. NO, I did not condone his behavior but it was not about ME. He wasn’t intentionally doing something to hurt me. He had made a decision… It was about him and what he decided and not about me at all.

I think one of the most painful things to do is watch our children make bad choices.

We will do everything in our power to prevent our children from making the wrong choices. Especially when we know that it may be something that can affect them later in life. As a parent it is our responsibility to guide our children, to teach them and to take control of situations that can harm our children. In my case, my son is an adult so I cannot control his actions but I can still talk to him about the consequences of making bad choices and most of all… I can give loving advice and pray for him.

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As parents we want to jump in and control a situation and when we don’t have control we get upset, we panic and we want our way.  I wanted my son to see it my way.  He did not. I had to step back, give him motherly advice and then leave it in God’s hands.  I can get angry and try and force him to do things the way I want which may drive a wedge between us, or I can make sure he knows where I stand, continue to pray and show him love.

I am a firm believer that more can happen, more lives are changed, more hearts are open to listen and receive if we give love rather than hate.

Right now all I can do is take it one step at a time knowing that I am teaching and leading my children the best I can and pray, and then pray some more. The rest is between them and God.

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Marriage – The good, the bad, and the ugly

I don’t think anyone is really prepared for marriage. Not really!!  You can get married at 19 or 32… there is not a single person that goes into marriage knowing what it will really be like.  Many of us even took classes to prepare us for a lifelong experience but nothing is close to living it out on a daily basis. We can prepare ourselves by reading books and being educated on the “what ifs” but truthfully you really do not know how you will respond when crap hits the fan until it happens.

Don’t get me wrong… there are so many amazing things about marriage. For one thing you have a lifelong partner who can and will be your best friend. In marriage you have a shoulder to lean on, a sense of belonging and security. You have someone to tell you that everything will be okay and sometimes just hold you and let you cry when you need it.

BUT…

When things get bad, they can get really bad.

AND…

When things get ugly, when people act ugly, it can get really ugly.

Stuff happens, life happens and it can be so bad sometimes that you start to think to yourself that there was no way that you signed up for this. There are failures, and sometimes things hurt you to the point you just want to walk away.  Money gets tight and feelings get hurt. Rejection and other traumatic things happen. In some cases there is mental illness or a life threatening illness.

And then there are times you will fight… you will have knock out, dragged out fights.

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Then there is sickness… and by sickness I mean imagine being married to someone that gets a bad case of the stomach flu. (Things can get messy and some things happen in marriage that you cannot and should not share with another person).

Marriage is life altering. So from the moment you give your life to another person you need to make a choice. A choice from the very start of your journey to establish in your own heart that marriage is a covenant, a promise you will uphold no matter what comes your way.

Bob and Audrey Meisner wrote in their book Your Supernatural Marriage that real, outward proof of a covenant life in action is the presence of genuine truth and honesty in the relationship between a woman and a man no matter the circumstances.  These benefits include security, assurance, protection and hope (2006).

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A covenant is a commitment to honor continually and completely to each other. It is choosing to be accountable to each other with such honesty that you learn to overcome failures and walk through difficulties together.

This is easy to say… and not always easy to do.  This is put to test continually. We are not perfect people and we do not always live up to expectations. We mess up, fail, and make wrong decisions.

We have to choose to be accountable to each other and decide early (before you walk down the isle  or even right now – if you are already married) that this is an agreement that cannot be broken. It is a commitment you are making for life.

When you make a decision from the very beginning to choose love… above all else, no matter what… you are then able to see past the bad and have confidence that even at rock bottom things can get better.

Someone once said to me, “When you hate him, find a reason to like him. When you only like him, find a reason to love him.”  

I married at 19 and I failed my marriage because I thought the world was about me and my wants and needs. I did not see marriage as a lifelong commitment. I found out I was expecting and I thought it was a way to make things right. I look back now and I believe I could have survived every bit of garbage (his and mine) if I would have had the maturity. If I had taken it upon myself to practice love, it may have been different. If I had decided, “I am going to put into this relationship even if at this time you are unable to give back.”

I am now remarried and some ugly stuff has happened and we both could have walked away many times but we have taken a step back each time and saw potential in our marriage. There were times it took us bringing in a third party such as a counselor to see this. We even had one counselor tell us they could not help us (we were that much of a mess). But we did not give up and we sought out more help. And because we did not give up we learned that a marriage that is falling apart can be replenished and restored if two people are willing to put in the work.

Marriage might be the hardest thing you ever do and in seasons of fear and anger you may feel bombarded and overwhelmed with emotions, but if you fight for your marriage you will also discover it can be the most fulfilling, most satisfying, most beautiful commitment you will ever make.

Reference:

Meisner, B. & A., (2006). Your Supernatural Marriage, 49 & 65.