We have several mantras here at SpouseBUZZ. Sometimes, when life is being - well, life, having a short phrase to repeat at just the right time helps us to focus and move forward. More than once I've told myself to get it together and put on my Big Girl Panties when my husband is in a far-off, exotic locale courtesy of Uncle Sam and I'm dealing with the broken dishwasher, the angry teenager, the car that won't start, and a horrible pile of something that I think might have come from the cat, but I can't quite identify. The urge to break into hysterical tears and retreat into the madness of 24-hour infomercial binge buying while subsisting solely on Doritos and brownies is strong. Let's face it, we've all felt it.
Likewise, I've resorted to Bitter or better, choose your vowel more than once. Like that time the nursing facility called me to report my mother-in-law refused to wear clothing or use a sheet during her afternoon nap, which was causing some severe restrictions on the social life of my MIL's room-mate.
However those mantras do help, though, they are not the solution for everything that comes up. Which brings me to this letter from LL in the mailbag:
Someone has just got to help me, I'm going nuts. I'm a basket case, I'm driving my man bonkers. He just left on deployment, I can't handle it, I just want to check my self in to a mental ward. I wasn't supposed to be a millitary wife, then all of a sudden he went in. He was supposed to take me, I'm not supposed to be alone anymore. I have 2 small, wild toddler boys I love, but can't help but think they would be better off with out me and a family I don't have to give them. My mood swings are up and down. I yell and then cry, don't want to get out of bed. I'm going to loose the best thing that ever happened to me and my boys...We all have moments during deployment when everything overwhelms us and makes it seem as though we just can't possibly cope. Usually multiple times, for that matter. At some point, though, we have to make our own command decision about whether things have become too overwhelming to deal with alone. There is no shame, absolutely none, in understanding that you have reached a point where there is too much on your plate to handle without professional help.
Thanks to the tireless work of many military family advocates over the last decade of war, there is much more available to us than there was to military families in other eras. If you don't know where to start, Military One Source has a 24 hour immediate access number you can call. Your Tri-Care enrollment also qualifies you for no-questions-asked mental health care. You are allowed multiple visits before needing a referral, and you can go to their page to get the names of approved mental health care providers. Depending on your service and base, whatever the iteration of the Family Support Center is might have meeting groups of people going through the same exact issues you are - and you might be surprised how much seeing them once a week can help you pull through.
Don't be afraid to be honest with your family and friends, either. Far too often, military spouses try to be the picture of strength and butt-kicking hooah. Even Superman fell out of the sky when confronted with Kryptonite, though; we all have our limits. All to often we hear people say, "But I just didn't know!" when a situation erupts; and while the first inclination is to make a snide remark about not really looking - in reality, the people we know are used to seeing us stop an erupting toilet with one hand, wrestle an overwrought child with another, and somehow manage to get dinner in the crockpot at the same time. Our limits might be obvious to us, but not to those around us. We need to tell them when we are at the breaking point so they can step in and help.
And always understand when you are feeling this way - you are not alone. The military lifestyle has the highest highs and the lowest lows of nearly any lifestyle in the world. Some people spend their weekends chasing thrills and excitement - we live our lives that way. And it takes a toll on all of us.