This is a rather personal post and it took everything within me to write this. Remember earlier this year I promised that my blog will be taking a new direction. Posts will get more personal and they did. You may remember the one where I wrote about how my marriage was on the rocks. Most people see (think) of me as the rather strong person, after all, I was running a blog, I was an American Soldier, and who’s tougher than our American Soldiers?! It might surprise you to know that the US Military has a very high suicide rate among active duty and veterans alike. The stress, it can really get to you. You sacrifice a lot for your country including your family but let me start from the beginning.
My depression actually started after I had my daughter in January 2012. I was diagnosed with post-partum depression and having to go back to work just 6 weeks after she was born didn’t really help me much. Sure my husband was at home taking care of her during the day but I felt like I wasn’t doing my part. Like as her mother I should be the one taking care of her. I felt like I was a bad mother for going to work while she stayed at home, but I was a soldier and soldiers have to be strong. Just a few months after Madison was born (May 2012) my dad was diagnosed with cancer and told he only had about 5 months to live. What a blow that was. How can the person who meant more to me than anyone decide to die at the time I needed him most? Was I being selfish for wanting him to be with me forever? You bet I was!
I was able to go to the Caribbean by taking leave and going to see him for 2 weeks with Madison and my oldest daughter so I can see him one final time. Those 2 weeks were some of the most bittersweet moments for me. While I was happy to be there with him, I was also sad knowing that this might be the last time I ever get to see him again, and I was right. In November just 2 days before my son’s birthday I called to speak to my dad while speaking to him and before I got to tell him I loved him, he died right there on the phone with me. My life fell apart and my depression increased. I left a few days later and spent another week being strong once again for my mother but deep inside I wasn’t strong. I was dying myself.
After burying my dad I came back and instead of taking some time off from work to heal, I went right back to work. After all, that’s what the American Soldier does. It’s our creed that we live by. If you don’t know we do have one and I’ll share it right here with you. We’re supposed to be physically and mentally tough. We’re supposed to be able to survive whatever adversity comes our way.
“I am an American Soldier.
I am a warrior and a member of a team.
I serve the people of the United States, and live the Army Values.
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills.
I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.
I am an expert and I am a professional.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy, the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
I am an American Soldier”
By now my marriage was suffering. It may have been suffering before that but I was in my own world called depression and I didn’t care. I stopped doing the things I used to do. I stopped taking care of myself, I stopped taking care of my kids the way they needed to be taken care of. I stopped paying attention to my husband and I even stopped taking care of the house. I stayed in bed for as long as I could and if I didn’t have to get up I didn’t. In the meantime, everyone took care of themselves. After a few months of this, I decided that things weren’t working and I needed help. I reached out to a therapist and after a stint in a psychiatric hospital, I started feeling better. What I’ve come to realize is that feeling better doesn’t mean that you’re actually better.
In the meantime, my husband found a mistress and then I found out my mother was dying. Guess what that meant again for me? Yup! Another dose of whatever it was that was keeping me in that spiral started all over again. For me, it was the two persons I loved dearly with my everything who was supposed to be there for me was leaving me and I couldn’t handle it. I have to admit that I still can’t handle it.
For the past two weeks, my depression has gotten worse. I’m constantly a wreck. I may look like I’m happy on the outside but inside I’m falling to pieces. When Robin Williams took his life I truly understood what he was feeling because I’ve personally been there and I’m still there. I’ve decided that I’m going to take some time off from blogging because while this has been a great outlet for me, I’m not in that good place where I can do this. I do have commitments that I do intend to fulfill so you’ll see posts popping up here and there but I need to take care of myself and my family.
So what can you do to help someone suffering from depression?
- Be there for them and don’t judge!
- Realize that depression can last a very long time and they need all the support that they can get. Don’t pack up and run because it’s not going the way you want to. Trust me the person dealing with the depression knows that it’s not going the way he/she wants it to either.
- Encourage them daily with words of love and affection. Be a true friend and listen to them, they are actually crying out for help.
- If you are active in their care, help them with their medication. Remind them to take it daily.
- Take them out, do fun things with them. Help them to realize that life can be fun again.
Now if I had someone there for me to do these things with I might have been better but it’s going to take a while. I know that and I accept that. Now I just need to accept that life has meaning and I’m here for a reason. I look forward to seeing you all when I get back.