War At Home: My Battle with Depression and Anxiety

Yesterday while surfing Twitter I came across a link to a news article about a blog that I had visited a few times in which the blog owner who is an Army Wife wrote a goodbye letter to her readers. She was going to commit suicide. While I don’t pretend to know her thoughts and what she was truly battling, I can assume from her blog post that she in someways felt like the Army failed her along with her spouse.

The great part is that Jessica is alive and getting the help she needs!

Her story to me opened up a broader topic and I decided to share my own personal story in the video below. I hope that her story and mine will encourage others to share their’s and know that they are not alone and that treatment is available.

 

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23 comments

  1. Ashley

    OMG!!! YOU HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD! 4 years ago I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder! It was awful and over the years I have gotten better but I still have panic attacks every once in a while and if I’m not having a panic attack, I do have the generalized anxiety ALOT! People don’t understand it and they would always tell me “just go take a drive..just go take a nap!” & they don’t understand that you really can’t. I have been to see a counselor, a therapist, a psychologist and a psychiatrist! I avoided the meds because I do not like taking medicine and that was really hard because all of the doctors just wanted to put me on medicine. I tried EVERY strategy outside of medicine and I have came such a long way. I am newly married to the Army and we are pcs’ing next year. I work on my anxiety every day and it’s an everyday process. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for sharing your story!!!! It is SO nice to see someone like you putting your story out there! I think us anxiety sufferers tend to feel we are the only ones that have this and it was nice being able to hear someone else voice their story! THANK YOU!!!!!!

  2. Lauren

    I believe that wives who suffer from anxiety and depression aren’t really getting the true help that they need. Doctors are just throwing medication at them and sending them on their way. That is what happened to me anyway. I believe that the army is a lot about image, and when a wife is going through something like this often time she is looked down upon by the FRG and such. Also there is a lot of support from other wives out there, just like the ladies who helped the lady in the article, but branch wide I think many of times the support is just not there. It is something that is being put on the back burner I think. Being honest here, sometimes I think the army just doesn’t care that much.

  3. Pingback: The Story Not Always Shared: Anxiety and Depression . . . | Pink Combat Boots: Healthy Homefront Living

  4. Lena

    Wow! This subject is near and dear to my heart. Ive always had a problem with anxiety but when my husband deployed it was like someone struck a match and threw it on my anxiety. U know how bad it was for me Krystel. I had to have several phone calls with u….lol. Well, I realized I had a problem when I was home alone and I wasnt feeling very well. I started to cry and couldnt stop. I couldnt breathe. It was like something had a death grip hold on my lungs. I was shaking uncontrollably. I thought I was having a heart attack. I felt so alone. I went to my dr and she prescribed Lexapro, which im still taking to this day. It doesnt help that my husband has really bad PTSD. So needless to say he’s medicated as well! It’s so hard for us sometimes. I feel like so much.more can be done for us military families.

  5. I am just glad people are talking about it openly here…I was somehow led to her blog somehow too, and I think my heart skipped a few beats, thinking she had actually succeeded! Now the key is to keep it going…keep talking and as a collective, getting Big Army to do something about it..she is obviously not the only one.

  6. Jessica

    That story spoke volumes to me! During my husbands last deployment (my first as an army spouse) I was still living in our home state and battled depression. Everything had mixed together and just weighed so heavy on my mind and heart. Not knowing if he was safe, not hearing from him often enough, watching the children so upset and not having anyone around me who TRUELY understood. I took the anti depression medication for most of the deployment and when he came home, things were much better. Before this deployment I found out that my father was really sick with Demensia (this happened a month before my husband was to leave) and as it got a little closer to him deploying the stress of the deployment and my father being sick caused me to have my very first anxiety attack. I felt like I was having a heart attack also and I wanted to see if it went away on it’s own so I waited a week before seeing a doctor on post and it was still there and physically hurt more than ever. The doctor on post put me on xanax and it really helped. I only had to take it as needed and I made sure that I only took it rarely when I did need it because I do not like taking medicine. Depression and Anxiety are out there like you mentioined and our wonderful soldiers are not the only people who suffer during this…..the wives at home need to be acknowledged just as equally in my opinion.

  7. Allison's Wifey

    Although, I do agree tha there are many wives that cannot handle the military lifestyle, there are many that can! I do agree with you that it is not the military that causes these spouses to fall into a depression, anxiety etc. but we must ask ourselves DIDN’T WE KNOW WHAT WE WERE GETTING INTO WHEN WE MARRIED A SOLDIER?

    This will be deployment #4 for my family, and although it is hard not to have a Soldier by your side, not get a break from the kids….WE MUST LEARN TO BE STRONG WILLED WOMEN THAT CAN WITHSTAND WHATEVER IS THROWN OUR WAY! This is why it is highly encouraged to use your resources, get involved, stay active, make a seperation, loss, change…… POSITIVE….

    It is enough to have our Soldiers in harms way, but when you have wives back home not seeking help, and MAKING THE BEST OUT OF A deployment, pcs etc IT CAUSE OUR SOLDIER TO NT HAVE HIS MIND ON HIS MISSION….

    The Army lifestyle MAY play a role in spouses being depressed, but it is not the sole factor as to why these spouses may have become depressed!

    I advise these Spouses to seek help, got ACS, call Military OneSource…Talk to another Spouse that may be feeling the same way!!!!!!!

    WE MUST BE STRONG FOR OUR SOLDIERS IN THE HOMEFRONT

  8. Christina

    Allison’s wifey.. .not everyone is strong. What about the people that are stuck with veterans just out? I made the mistake and hooked up with an ex army person.. ended up marrying him.. I had to deal with everything… and his ex wife, kids, parents and siblings had nothing to do with his healing.. in the long run the depression came unto me.. It was contagious and in the end, I was the bad guy in the relationship. I was thrown into something that I was not prepared for. He chose not to go to therapy, I was not allowed to go to the VA Hospital and I had no say whatsoever. As the new wife, I did not even exist.

    I had no idea why I was depressed and anxious and this was my first experience of depression in my life.

    I have always been strong willed.. and not everyone is sure what they are getting into. We think we know but until we try.. it is only when we learn.. and sometimes the support is not there to assist.

    Be a bit more compassionate and sensitive… Allison’s wifey . and please dont tell me your husband name is Allison..lol

  9. Jennifer

    There are so many sides to a story. There is a great truth to the stamement that it takes a certain kind of woman to be a military wife. It all depends on so many factors. When my husband went special forces we knew what we got into and had tested our marriage in his career and knew how strong we had to be to move on to this new adventure. Deep down we know how we end up handling things and how we react to things. It does sound very heartless to say some of these things and to hear them. But there is so much truth to it. Most wives tend to forget that the military did not issue a wife and kids. The military told your husband to sign over his life to be a dispensable killer. Plane and simple. Their very job is to train for a war. This life has a lot of challenges that not many can handle with ease. When it gets too tough people have got to realize this, seek help and have many discussions with their husband to see if staying in is the right path. Having the right mindset and knowing how to remove emotions when you need to is key. If that is not how you are built then that is totally ok. Just know your limits. I have a strong friend who was a very emotional woman. Deployment almost destroyed her and couldn’t figure out how I was walking through it like it was nothing. I couldn’t give her enough angles to help her to take the emotions out and stop over thinking. And just before deployment she wanted her husband to go SF. Thank goodness he didn’t because they would have ended in divorce. Our husbands have to be tough to be a soldier. That means we do to. Its not what everyone can handle hearing but it needs to be said. This is not for everyone. If the help is not helping its time to move on.

  10. Kim

    First – thank you, Army Wife, for sharing. I think this is something that needs to be talked about MUCH more. If someone is predisposed to anxiety and depression, the military life is probably going to be a lot harder for them.

    And to Allison’s Wifey, I am so tired of hearing, “You knew what you were getting into.” Can anyone TRULY know how something is, or how they are going to react to it, before they have actually gone through it? It’s kind of like saying, “Shut up, you knew this was going to hurt” to a woman giving birth the first time. Sure, you knew that it was going to be painful – you’d heard hundreds of women say it was. But can you know exactly what it’s like until you actually, physically experience it? No.

    Did I know that my ex would go Iraq and come back as a completely different person? Did I know he would have PTSD, and how to handle it? Did I know he would refuse to get help and that we’d end up divorced? Hell no. I did not.

    I think we all need to be a little more gentle with each other. Just because you handle something well doesn’t mean someone else will. And yelling at them or telling them, “Well, you just need to be stronger” is NOT actually going to help anyone. And in fact, most of the “strong” women who say this to others are the ones I have seen who have developed really unhealthy habits and rituals during deployments and stressful situations because they can’t (or won’t) express their feelings. I’m not saying this is you, but I have seen it many times. So let’s be kinder to each other. If we’d do more supporting and sticking together, maybe we wouldn’t have people who feel they need to commit suicide because they feel so helpless and alone.

  11. Kim

    By the way, Military One Source is a WONDERFUL resource for spouses who are in need of help and not wanting to get their military hospital involved (though there is nothing wrong with that, either). I have gotten so much help from MOS that has been invaluable to my success as a military wife.

  12. heather

    I was told by my husband that I can’t go with him to Germany, or Alaska if we get stationed there b/c I have depression/ anxiety is there any way to by-pass this?

  13. Christine

    I was just wondering if anybody could give me any advice…My anxiety started causing serious friction between my husband and I. I get panic attacks that are so severe I pass out. My husband could manage dealing with them before he joined the military and was pretty darn supportive. We get to his first duty station and his job is so pointless and annoying that my anxiety shoots through the roof because he becomes so irate over the smallest things. He hates his job and hates the problems that have come up at home because of it. He took 5 pain killers and I reported him to his nco and they did nothing but talk to him. He snaps again and gets put into a behavioral class. They still want to deploy him but yet they haven’t done anything to help him manage after I have already told 2 of his ncos. Now he is mad at me because he can’t come home after telling his counselor what really happened. They put him on watch and he is suppose to be deploying soon. I don’t care about being ignored by the military but I won’t sit by and watch them push my husband serious issues aside and look at me like I’m making it all up, especially when he won’t be getting help when he deploys. Was I wrong for doing this?

  14. Heidi

    Thanks for posting on this topic. I am an Airforce wife that is still dealing with anxiety and panic attacks. Mine started about 2 & 1/2 years ago my husband had been deployed for just about 6 months and only had about 3 weeks left before he came home. One day I was driving to base for my son’s Dr. appointment and was stopped at a red light. Suddenly I felt strange as if I was just going to pass out at the wheel, almost how you would feel getting bad news that someone you love has suddenly passed away, that is the best way I can describe what I was feeling. I was in traffic and could not even pull off anywhere, which made this experiance so scarey. I blasted the A/C and thankfully didn’t pass out. I pulled off at the nearest place I could which happened to be a fast food place. (I don’t eat fast food, but thought maybe it was low blood sugar since I have been told in the past I have hypoglycemia). I got something to eat and water. Felt better so I decided to make my way to the appontment for my son. The last stoplight before the hospital, I felt very fast heartbeat and just felt strange. Got to hosp. and out of the car and was fine again. Thought about getting myself checked out by ER. but decided against it, since I was not having any symptoms. At my sons appointment, PCM was rude and said my son was underweight for his age, and I told her he is a very picky eater and I have been trying to get him to eat more etc. On the drive home I was OK, but a few days later I was at home and began to feel dizzy, almost like I was on a boat or something. Thought maybe an ear infection or something, didn’t know what was wrong with me. Also started with tachycardia (fast, racing heartbeat) that continued as I went to bed and I still had it as I woke up. Wondered if I was having a heart attack & had no family or friends here, just aquaintences. Called a friend of my husbands that he works with and he came and took me to ER. I didn’t want to call 911 because I had nobody to watch my kids. It sounds silly I know but that is why. Er did EKG and said there were some irregularities maybe due to high stress, not heart attack, and gave me potassium via IV. Which I later regreted it made me sick after they discarged me home. For follow-up appointment I explained all that I had been experiancing, asking DR. to check my ears for ear infection, I was still dizzy. He said no, and I felt he was rude and rushed and said it is anxiety. He gave me prescription for xanax and I told him I don’t like to take any meds and I have to be alert for my kids since I am the only care giver for them. Anyway, dizziness went away after about a week and 1/2. Husband came home and I was still having the panic attacks at long stoplights or stuck in traffic. Got pregnant (not planned) with #3 and lost baby at 3 months preg. I went into a severe depression and finally convinced husband to have another baby. Got pregnant and at 8 months husband got orders to Middle East again, this time 2 months of training in Tx. and 6 months gone for a total of 8 months without him. Moved to another state to live with family while he was gone, which I had never done before. Mainly because of driving/panic attack problem and to have someone to watch kids while I gave birth. Got postpartum depression when baby was 2 weeks old. Went to OB DR. and begged for help. She right away put me on a med. and it was awful. Then she switched me to another DR. as he was more experianced with depression and meds. Tried many meds, felt like a guinea pig, all had terrible side effects like me feeling totally sedated etc. one made my panic attacks even worse, thought I was dying, went off meds except for a chip of xanax when I felt I really needed it. Fast forward to present and I am not depressed, but long red lights or traffic are a trigger for panic attacks. I now avoid freeways and have really limited driving to just afew min from home. :( Thinking of going again to DR. and seeing if there is anything I can do to overcome this problem or make it more managable. Others just don’t understand anxiety if they have never had to deal with it. Even my family said things like “get a grip” which was not helpful. I used to have no problem driving, lived in Alaska for a few years and did fine driving through ice fog and ice roads with no panic attacks. My OB DR. had said the panic attacks were due to an “overload of stress” she was nice and was an off base DR. I have read a few books on how to get over panic attacks, had a few good points but as I said, problem continues. My husband retires in April and has another job lined up as a civillian so no more deployments which is great! Just wish I could drive like I used to, it is very frustrating!

  15. Heidi

    One more thing, I am not one that likes to complain, was just telling my experience with anxiety and panic attacks above. If anyone has any ideas to help or has had panic attacks please reply! Thanks! :)

  16. Heidi

    Christine how are you doing? IMHO you did the right thing, it seems the NCO’s have really dropped the ball in your husbands situation. Somebody should do more than just talk to him! Hope things are a little better by now. Take care.

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