Dear Ms. Vicki,
My husband has been at Basic Training for two months and has one month to go. We have a three-year-old and a one-year-old.
My husband always wanted to go into the military, and he decided now was the time in order to help us out financially and to fulfill his dream. I felt that if I did not support him, I would be a bad wife.
But I'm falling apart. I think I'm getting depressed. I feel I'm failing my children because the demand on me is so much I'll yell.
I have hardly any support, and I'm becoming resentful of my husband for leaving us and making me do all of this on my own.
I'm a teacher, and school is starting soon. I'm having a hard time pulling it together to get my work done.
Where is there support for military wives??! I feel like a failed wife and mom, and now I'm letting my co-teacher down too. I feel very sad and hopeless and almost unable to cope.
-- I'm Falling Apart
Dear Falling Apart,
Your emotions are very normal, given your situation. You are experiencing a huge change and role transition. Moreover, your husband is away from home and embarking on a new career that is unknown to you.
A report, published by the Pew Research Center in 2011, indicated that just one-half of 1 percent of Americans served in uniform at any given time during the past decade. So welcome to the Real One Percent!
Interestingly, the report also said that as the military decreases in size, the connection between military members and the broader civilian population appears to be growing more distant.
Your letter shows this perfectly. No wonder you didn't really know what to expect on this journey. I would suggest that you do the following:
1. Find more spouse support at SpouseBuzz.com and on Military.com/spouse. There is a lot of information about all stages of military life online, including help with parenting alone and with all kinds of job skills.
I'm not sure what branch of service your husband joined, but basic training and other skills training will be just a few short months. Afterward, he will relocate to his permanent unit, where you and your children can join him.
2. Build support now. You have to reach out to family and friends for support because this is difficult for you. Remind yourself that you are not weak -- this is just difficult.
It is important that you continue to build a wellness plan that includes support from close family and friends, spiritual support and exercise, which is a great stress reliever that can also counteract depressive symptoms.
3. Remember your children are watching. Your children will pick up your emotional cues. In other words, if you are sad, they will be sad etc. I know this is a lot for you to handle, especially with young children. I had to do the same. I remember my husband being in Ranger School in the heat of summer at Fort Benning, Georgia, while I was pregnant and taking care of our toddler. My life was no vacation in the Bahamas either!
4. Make an appointment with someone who can help. I am very concerned about your description of your emotions. You said you are very sad, can't cope and feeling hopeless. These are not good symptoms. I highly suggest you make an appointment to see your primary-care physician and discuss these depressive symptoms. Your PCP should refer you to see a behavioral health provider.
You can also call Military OneSource at (800) 342-9647 to speak to a counselor for free 24/7. You may also have a health insurance plan through your own work where you don't need a referral. In this case, you should check for the availability in your area. These symptoms could be something that won't go away soon enough.
Again, please call for an appointment and stay in touch with me because I will be thinking about you.
-- Ms. Vicki