Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Life as We Know It

I sat on the playground bench soaking up the sunshine and snapping pictures of my son who was smiling at me from his seat in the stroller and my daughter who was happily playing on the playground equipment. It hit me, as I made faces at my son making him laugh, that I was happy. Really happy. For the first time in a long time I had made it through a whole week of being happy.

Oh, the ironies.

For the past five months I've struggled with depression. I'd go for days not even wanting to get out of bed - doing only what was necessary to take care of the well being of my children but little more. Feeling a sadness that was overwhelming in intensity.

Maybe it was a side affect of the birth control. Maybe it was a case of the baby blues. Maybe it's the long dreary days accompanied by weather too cold for me to want to go out even on the sunny days. Maybe it was missing the close companionship of my family and friends who all live so far away. Maybe it was the utter lack of emotional support (other than that of my husband) that I have so badly needed. Maybe it was a mixture of some or all of those things.

I honestly don't know why the depression hit me so hard. I'm not sure that the reason really matters.

The fact is, the depression has been here dragging me through a vicious cycle. Making me feel so tired that I don't want to do even the most simple tasks much less keeping up with all the household duties. The neglect of the housework made me feel like a terrible wife which made me feel even more depressed. My state of constant depression, despite how understanding and supportive my amazing husband has been, has taken a toll on my marriage. I saw it but felt helpless to do anything. Which made me feel more depressed.

A little over a week ago my husband told me that he was being moved to a new unit and would be deploying sometime this summer. No matter how hard you try to prepare for this moment it still hits you like a ton of bricks. I alternated between shock, tears and denial.

The day after my husband broke the news to me I was supposed to go to a lunch for some of the other Paralegal Army Wives...I didn't want to go but my husband insisted and practically pushed me out the door.

I'm so glad he did!

I had a great time and for the first time in a long time felt like I had people that understood what I was going through and really cared. I stayed for a good two hours longer than I had intended. A few days later I got together with one of the other gals who's husband is in the unit that my husband has just been transferred to. We met at the playground and sat and chatted while our kids played. It was wonderful. She's been an Army wife for longer than I have, although she's only a couple years older than me, and has survived two deployments. Between the lunch on Saturday and the get together on Thursday, I found my spirits were greatly lifted.

On Saturday, as I sat enjoying a sunny beautiful day I realized I had made it through a whole week without the too familiar cloud of depression. Yes, I've had some tough moments - it's impossible not to when you realize that the love of your life is going to be gone for at least a year. But I'm not feeling depressed. It's nice.

I think God knows how much my husband and I need some good quality time filled with happy memories before he deploys. Life as we know it is about to change so much and we are doing what we can to get ready for it. We've been taking lots of pictures and videos to capture those precious memories. Trying to plan ahead. I'm thankful that there has been no depression to make this time more difficult! My mindset has changed so much - now, I just want to capture every moment. Each cuddle, each hug, each kiss seems so much more special. I want to remember them all. They are such precious treasures too easily taken for granted. Watching my children cuddle and play with their daddy is so bittersweet...I just want a "pause" button!

Life has already started changing...we're selling things we don't want to put in storage for a year. The kids have picked up on some of it and have become more clingy. Which makes it a little difficult at times but kind of nice for Jeremiah as they are extra cuddly with him. Sometime in late June or early July I'll be headed to Wisconsin then Tennessee then North Carolina on my own little "deployment" while my husband is deployed. It's a lot of big changes for us as a family. And, yes, I plan to keep myself busy and surrounded by family and friends but still staying in contact with other Army wives that know what I'm going through.

I'd appreciate advice from those who have gone through this already...and lots and lots of prayers. The full import of this is slowly starting to sink in but I don't think any of us really know the impact this will have on our please, please, please pray for us!!!


  1. WE are praying for "all" of you!

  2. Oh ((hugs)). This post made me tear up. I remember Sam coming home in '04 and announcing he was being deployed to Iraq. We didn't have kids so that part of the pain wasn't there.

    I'm here, if you ever need to chat or vent or just want to say a lot of bad words. :p It is lonely. But you're not alone!

  3. Isn't it funny (not haha) how something like an upcoming deployment can help drag you out of a depression?? I'm so glad you're coming to WI for a little bit this summer! Good thing you'll be moving around a lot and staying busy...that is KEY!! Where is he being deployed to?

  4. Remember, WAY BACK WHEN, when I told you to go out with friends and to dinners and meetings even (or especially) when you didn't feel like it?!?!
    I'm so glad that Jeremiah made you go and I hope it seals it in your mind that you will be further committed to going to those kinds of things in the future. It's healthy for you and your sanity.
    I know the depression of which you speak. I've had it every single time we've moved (and it's been a lot of moving). Being away from family, having to start all over in a new place, missing the places and people I grew to love. Finding your new place in a new community.. it takes a toll.
    When John was still in the Marines we didn't have kids, as you know, but with or without kids I had a firm belief that sometimes it's a very good thing to slow down, sit down, and acknowledge what you are feeling, accept it and then pick yourself up and remind yourself about the good stuff. Yes, keeping busy is good, but don't get so busy you forget to take some time out to just.. FEEL... good or bad. You never want to get to the place where you are numb.
    Take those times when you are feeling good and cherish them and remember them. Blog about them. Write about them in a journal or diary. Memorize everything about them. But don't forget to acknowledge the times you are feeling bad as well. It's okay. It's understandable and it's normal. Sometimes blogging and writing about the bad is just as important because it helps you put it all into perspective, vent it and get some closure to how you're feeling. It's therapeutic, for sure!
    And don't get dragged down by the people who don't or can't understand. You are going to be traveling to places without a lot of military presence with a lot of people who will try their best to understand what you're going through but simply won't get it. Sometimes the things they say will seem cruel or stupid, ignorant or just plain mean, but the truth of the matter is that very few people are that malicious. They are attempting to console you the best way they know how and they may do a very bad job of it. Acknowledge their effort to be kind and leave the rest.
    Finally... exercise!!! It's part of the "keeping busy" thing but it is well documented that exercise helps combat depression and boosts morale. The better you feel about your body and the better your body feels, the better you will feel about everything else. Some of the happiest and strongest military wives I've ever met have an exercise routine they really enjoy whether it's just taking walks or running or Yoga or pilates or swimming or lifting weights, whatever. I know you like hiking and you are going some places that have beautiful hiking spots. Get out there.. hike! Move your body. Go to a couple of different exercise classes and see how you like them. You might find that one thing that really makes you feel great when you're through. That endorphin rush can be more effective than anti-depressants. Even if it's just taking your kids to the park and chasing them around.. you'll be glad you did.
    I love you. You know I do. I wish I could be closer to you during this time. Even if it was just to drag you out to have a little fun or to an exercise class or just come over in the middle of the night and cry with you. I'd do it because that's what sister-friends are for. But I will always be no more than a phone call away and I can't wait to see you when you come to visit!!

  5. I remember feeling just how you do when Johnny deployed the first time. We were stationed in England at the time, and Lexi wasn't even a year old. It was impossible to go back stateside, especially because at the time if you left the base for over 30 days you would lose the cost of living allowance ($800-$900/mo). It had already been a year since I had seen my family and friends back home. I get the "doom and gloom" because of the weather. I will tell you, what kept me sane was surrounding myself with upbeat people. I highly recommend other military wives who have been there. I gained some great friends there because they become the only "family" you have, some actually understand your feelings better then your blood relatives. One thing I have had to learn in the last 6 years is that we aren't just full-time moms, we are also women who need to just be women sometimes. That means "girl nights" and a little pampering once in a while. Military wives/moms have the hardest jobs in the world, sometimes its great to just have you time. Stay strong, and know you aren't alone!
    ~Ashley Bryan-Netzel

  6. Your post was uplifting to me. I could completely related to absolutely everything you were saying. Military life is not easy. Big hugs to you. I will be stayiing tuned to your blog to keep up with reading more.

  7. Thank you all for the support! It is so encouraging to have women who have already been there as friends. I've gotten a lot of great advice.

    @Melody, were right. Again! my defense, this is the first military wife thing that I've been invited to since we moved out here. But, then again, I haven't really looked for much either! I'm really excited about getting to spend some time with you. You're the best sister-friend ever and I don't know what I'd do without you!!!