Military Spouse Magazine

OCT 2018

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3 1 2 G O O D A D V I C E When we think of mental health in the military community it's easy to focus on the service member, but they are only part of the story. To the outside world I was a rock. That strong spouse who held it together during a difficult deployment and then again after our son attempted suicide. The reality was that I was fighting my own personal battle. The anxiety and stress became overwhelming. I couldn't turn off the tangled thoughts or the awareness of what could have happened. Making matters worse was the idea that I couldn't ask for help for fear of what it would do to my business or my husband's career. I'm not alone. Family members from every installation and branch of service, active duty and veteran alike, are dealing with mental/behavioral health challenges, and it looks different on all of us. • The spouse who is struggling to get out of bed. • The teen who is disconnected or silently suffering with thoughts of suicide. • The person who can't stop the feelings of anxiety that consume their daily thoughts. • The battle buddy who regularly escapes from the stressors of military life with things like alcohol, prescription meds or nicotine. Behind the mask of every member of our community is something different and there will be times when we or someone we know is dealing with things that are very dif- ficult. Knowing when, where and how to get help is so important. Here are some guidelines and resources that can help . The most effective way to take care of your mental health is to build a healthy foundation along with coping strategies that help you manage the challenges in your life. Are you eating well, sleeping enough, and staying hydrated? These foundation basics are essential to staying physically and emotionally healthy. It is equally important that you have a tool box of healthy coping strategies to lean on in the moment. When challenged by our emotions and how we are feeling, it is important to assess both our physical and mental health. Our overall health and well-being isn't about looking at any particu- lar moment, but rather becoming aware of any changes that are occurring over time and impact- ing our lives. It is important to be truly honest with yourself. Become a detective; observe and note changes in behavior and personality then use that information along with support from the resources below to get the help you need. Too often the idea of reaching out for help is quickly replaced by the thought, we should be stronger or that our feelings will just go away given enough time. While it is normal to feel sad, stressed out, angry and even overwhelmed, when these feel- ings start to take over your life, it's time to get help. Help is available and there are many resources available to get relief. Staying Healthy It's important to get help when you need it. Here's what you need to know…. By Judy Davis, Army Spouse Military Lifestyle and Teen Suicide Prevention Expert SELF CARE EVALUATE & IDENTIFY GETTING HELP The next time you feel anxious or stressed, notice what you go to for relief and how it actually makes you feels. Ask yourself: • Is this truly healthy for me? • Does it cause problems itself? • Does this help me release my emotions and find relief or does it stuff my feelings down so I can ignore them? Self care is so important for your mental health. If you need more tips for navigating military life grab a copy of "Right Side Up" by Judy Davis available on Amazon and at MilitaryFamilyBooks.com . RESOURCES • Talk to your Primary Care Manager (PCM) • Free, confidential, online screenings for anxiety, depression, mood disorders, PTSD and other conditions are available at mhascreening.org RESOURCES • Military & Family Life Counselors (MFLC) - free short-term, non-medical counseling available at all installations. • Military OneSource offers 12 free sessions per issue, per person of face-to-face, phone, or online counseling. Call 1-800-342-9647 to schedule an appointment. • Moving Forward is a free, online educational and life coaching program that teaches problem-solving skills to help you to better handle life's challenges. It is designed to be especially helpful for veterans, service members and their families. veterantraining.va.gov/movingforward • DASIUM.net - Depression, addiction and suicide prevention • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255 H Illustrations by Brian Crawford 28 MILITARYSPOUSE.COM / OCTOBER 2018

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