Deployment and the SO

“SO” as in Significant Other.

In January 2010, my boyfriend deployed for a year-long tour in Afghanistan.

In one week, he will be home. Granted he will be in Tennessee instead of Colorado because that is where his home station is in the US, but am flying out to see him in a week. I saw him once (for 12 days) in the whole last year when he had his R&R and I flew to Thailand to meet him for a wonderful vacation.

I thought, in light of reflecting on this last year that he has been gone, that I would make some points about dealing with your SO’s deployment

B and I stayed really close during this hard year. I know every relationship is different, but I want people to know these things. I feel like in the general military community, there isn’t much focus on SO’s and/or the wrong ideas are put out there.

These are things that I did right during this year…and things that I would work on more the next time around. Fortunately, there won’t be a next time around because he is planning to get out of the Army when he comes home.

So during your SO’s Deployment (and a little of my story):

  1. Don’t ever let anyone make you believe that you should hide all of your hardships to “make it easier for the soldier”. I feel like this is the general attitude from the collective dependent (non-military) half of the deployment and it makes me angry. The SO’s struggle, in my opinion, is just as hard or harder than the soldiers’. It is hard in a very different way, but it is still hard. Keep a perspective, but still share with them your struggles and communicate and support each other. Holding stuff in from the person you are supposed to be closest to is only going to make you feel more alone. Likewise, holding stuff in from people at home (friends, family) isn’t going to help either. Talk to people! I feel like B and I grew so much together because we shared this with each other; we were really open and honest. I don’t push him to share combat stuff, but he did share a little and it was really important to me and special to me that he did. It made me feel a lot closer to him. And I shared a lot with him. Sometimes I honestly felt like a burden, but he told me it was really special that I shared too and that it made him feel closer to ME and that was awesome.
  2. Don’t let anyone at home make you feel like you are an idiot for “choosing” to go through this…or that you should not fall apart so much. I let this get to me too much. I know I didn’t cope well this year in so many ways, but when do I ever?! That is my downfall. I have mental illness and I have self-destructive behaviors so that is kind of my MO and what I am constantly working on. This was one of the hardest things I have ever had to go through. How could I not let it affect me? The person I love and am closest to in the whole world was away. I had to deal with my already existing problems all alone. I had to worry about him being safe. I felt more fear than I ever have in my life. So I wish I wouldn’t have judged myself for not being able to do more this year. Secondary judgments to your feelings (in any case) always make everything so much worse! You shouldn’t judge yourself for how you feel. Give yourself a break if you literally can’t handle what you normally could. My aunt helped me alot when I was in Montana when she said, “maybe your purpose this year was just to support him and just make it through…who cares if you didn’t have a job or start your career yet.” Man, I am still working on this one!
  3. Lastly, don’t let Army people let you feel like your hardship is less than their’s because you aren’t married or engaged. My friend K and I (whose bf was also deployed) feel like this is the general attitude in the Army where everyone gets married ridiculously fast. I am so glad we had each other to talk to this year, even though we live across the country from each other. We talked a lot online. We talk all the time about getting engaged when he gets home anyway. He brings it up all the time and it makes me very happy.  But your struggle isn’t any less because you are the girlfriend, not the wife. You still love them. You still plan your future together. I learned to belive in my own relationship and to remember that every relationship is different and that ours is really special.

*These are just my opinions, but I hope they help somebody.

I am still really struggling with the fact that I don’t feel like the hard times will be over yet. That is what really got me down in the last week or two. I feel like he is coming home but we are still going to be apart until March and that really bothers me. I feel like I will still be really alone. I also feel all this stress about the next few months because I don’t know exactly what’s happening. I just want to be together in the same place and I don’t know exactly when that will happen or where I will end up. I want something very badly and I am really tired of waiting. It is almost creating this anger in me. Irrational anger at B and just anger at everything. So I am trying to set up some stuff with volunteering (got my one placement interview for Jan 20th – yay!) but I am just still so overwhelmed I can’t think straight and so frustrated. I am trying to TRUST but I am getting very impatient and it’s making me angry.  Just so many different emotions going on. This is really common (and normal) before they deploy and when they get home, and I know that. But it’s still confusing and I don’t know what to make of the anger.

Anyway, I HAVE to get back on my feet this week. I am making myself go swim today. I am so sick of swimming. I wish I could do some other physical activity but I can’t. It’s just so hard to go in the winter! Brrr. I really want to make myself go swimming every day this week. I also need to stop binging. I got in this depressed cycle the last week and it has to stop. It is just driving me down even more. So those are my two goals. Just can’t think about it too much though. I just have to do those two things today and do one thing at a time. I really need to practice MINDFULNESS and LIVING IN THE MOMENT again! I need to get my mind to stop thinking constantly of the future and being afraid of it.

New med

Wow. I am loopy from this Cymbalta (aka duloxetine…if I am going to be a pharmacist, I really need to start calling things by their generic/compound names…but the brand names are so much easier!).

I almost might take it every other day for a week so I can function. I am so sensitive to medication. I slept for 15 hours last night! But I feel calmer and that is so nice and appreciated. Yeah, I think I will do it every other day for a week. And consider again if I should take it at night. I can’t decide. Maybe 5pm?

So, so far the side effects aren’t too bad:

  • mild nausea, off and on
  • sleepiness/loopiness
  • dizziness
  • weird dreams! (common with drugs that affect norepinephrine)

So FYI: I am taking/trying Cymbalta for my anxiety, which is disabling and severe, and for my nerve pain. Hoping it will knock out two birds with one stone. I tried for SO long not to take an anti-depressant again but my brain is so biochemically messed up I decided I need to love myself enough to give it a reprieve.

Going to go swimming in a few. 🙂

Then my dad and I are going to go try out FiveFingers and see how they would work. I think it’s pretty hilarious that I want FiveFingers so I can go on 1/5 of a mile walks. Sigh…maybe someday I will be able to make it farther.

Okay, no real point of this post today!

I will see B. in 9 days!!! I can’t believe it. 🙂

 

Sometimes things turn out okay

Sometimes things turn out okay.

Okay, actually, when I get anxious about social events, most the time they do. The majority of the time they do. Statistics point towards things being okay.

I had fun tonight with family. Granted I had to drink a few beers at the beginning with my sister to relax but hey, that is what beer is for. 😉

Then we got to talking and laughing. My cousin was nice to see. We didn’t use to be close or hardly see each other or get along at all, but we even went out together just us once or twice this year. I ate my whole piece of salmon and enjoyed it without even really thinking about it. Then later I got hungry again and ate a few Rochet balls (I have never had those before, they were good…and I don’t even like chocolate!) and a turkey sandwich. Now I am drinking Sleepy Time tea and talking/sitting here with my mom and grandma.

Still haven’t decided if I am going to go to my uncle’s (other side of the family who I ironically usually get along great with and am excited to see) tomorrow night. I just don’t want to deal with my uncle and his recent conversation with me. He is only 16 years older than me and we are really close but I don’t feel ready to deal with that yet, so I will decide tomorrow.

I miss B. SO much. Every night, I STILL get so lonely. I could never stop missing him. Thankfully, I will have him back soon. I wish he was here with me to show off to my family ( 😉 ) and to just be with and talk to and have him hold me. I just can’t wait to our life together and am just trying to count down each day until I see him. About 16 days now!

I can’t believe this year is almost over and that we won’t have to be apart anymore. This has been the hardest year of my life and so many hard things are going on anyway, but having him away was even so much harder. I just love him so much and I can’t wait to have him home with me. We have fought through so much together and we have stayed so strong.

Exciting News from MTV

Something I have been working on: how to ACCEPT ‘no’ or ‘it’s okay’.

I am getting much, much better on SAYING ‘no’ myself when I don’t want to do something.

My problem remains with how to accept a statement from someone else. For instance, my new therapist is REALLY far way – 40 minutes drive on Fridays. I asked my dad if he minds taking me there (Friday is the only way I can go and she is the only eating disorder specialist who works on Fridays with my HMO). He said “No, I don’t mind” a couple weeks ago, but I have been constantly worrying about what a burden it is to get a ride there (2 1/2 hour escapade). So we decided to try it out last Friday and it was really far but I really liked her. So I asked him again and he said it’s fine. So I just decided to do my new policy:

  • Completely give in to believing what someone says. If they aren’t telling the truth, it is THEIR problem for not being able to say “no”, not mine.

EXCITING NEWS TODAY! I found out that the new season of Jersey Shore starts JANUARY 6th!!! My life is going to be so complete in January! B. is coming home AND Jersey Shore starts again?! They might beat out the countdown to B’s return on my calendar. Haha…just kidding.

Okay. I really do like Jersey Shore though. It’s like the highlight of my week when it’s on. Such a great escape from my mind.

ALSO EXCITING —> I am to fly out to see B. Jan 8th to 15th! He is scheduled to come home right before that so I hope he isn’t late. As usual, I am nervous about working out the swimming situation, I know two in town but I don’t know if I can drop in or if I will just have to bullshit them and ask for a week-trial pass and pretend I still live in town. But if I can get that settled, I will be so excited. I wish I could just stay with him for awhile (provided the pool situation is worked out) but I know I need to do things here too.

Doing things here” means *therapy*. Bleh. Sometimes, a lot, I feel so pressured about therapy because of my family. I just want to go to me. And if I will do better in Tennessee than being at home with all these myriad of triggers, it annoys me that I feel obligated to stay here. They just don’t understand that, how much better I do out of this house. But I KNOW that, so I just have to decide what is best for myself.

I read this article lately about dealing with the holidays. It was talking about how we all revert back to our inner 12-year old when we are at home. I apply this especially living back at home, but it can be going home to visit or even just Christmas Day itself when everyone descends to the same place together. Anyway, the article said to acknowledge that this is normal and that everyone experiences it, but also to repeat to yourself over and over, “I am an adult. I can make my own decisions. I am me now.” I have been doing this a lot and I think it is really empowering and reminds me that this is true, which boosts my confidence for coping and releases that trapped feeling a little bit.

I also read an article about dealing with family interference, particularly pertaining to eating disorders. The best thing I took away from it was to realize I don’t have to be accountable to anyone but myself, because that is all that is worth it at the end of the day. I don’t have to explain anything to anyone or feel bad about myself. I just have to stay focused on myself and my goals, and most important for me is retaining who I am and who I want to be.

I CANNOT WAIT FOR THE HOLIDAYS TO BE OVER! But I am keeping in mind two things to get through:

  1. Keep repeating again and again the same thing above. I am an adult. I get to make my choices. I am working on setting up important things for my future. I am going to move out of here soon.
  2. Keep in mind my goal for the month of December: to be conscious of others’ stress and not just my own – to be more kind. So I don’t want to make the season hard for others just because I don’t like it.

Feliz Navidad

This seriously kind of feels like the first cold day we have had in Denver this year. SO weird. I liked it though! Everyone kept posting on facebook that they were praying for snow and I was canceling them out by doing the opposite the whole time. Anyway, it’s cold but not too bad and we only got an inch of snow. My feet might get wet but I still am going to go on a mini-walk in my socks in a bit. 🙂 Yes, I am crazy. I just wear two pairs of thick socks now.

I want to try these though and see if they would hurt me feet or not:

————————————————————————————————–

Had my first appointment with my new therapist today and I really liked her.

The office that she works at with my insurance (I have an HMO plan) is so far away, it takes about 40 minutes to get there. But she is the only person who specializes in what I need that I can see on Friday’s and since my dad said it is okay, I am just going to take his word for it and not feel guilty or worried about how he has to drive me so far.

Do you know what I decided about those kinds of situations (when someone SAYS something is okay and yet I still obsess over whether it is and feel guilty)? I decided that if THEY say it is fine, I am going to totally give in to believing it is and not think about it again. If they say it’s fine and they are lying, that is their OWN problem with not being able to say “no” and not mine.

Anyway, the next two weeks I just have to talk to her on the phone, because their offices are closed for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. That kind of sucks because I started realizing how much better it really is to talk in person. But it will be okay. And then I can go regularly every Friday, same time, same person. But I liked her so that is good.

Things to be glad for:

  1. My dad actually being a person who likes to drive around, and how much he helps me do things like that on Friday.
  2. My good neurology appointment Weds and good appointment today.
  3. B. is coming home around Jan 7th plus or minus a week. YAY! His scheduled time keeps getting earlier. He won’t be in Colorado but he will be in Tennessee (his home station for the rest of his contract) and in a few more months he can move back to Colorado.
  4. I had a good swim today even though it was only ten minutes.
  5. Watching “Despicable Me” last night with my sister. I love that movie!
  6. That I was proactive about applying to the volunteer opportunities posted at Planned Parenthood yesterday. I did it and I will figure out the bus somehow. Maybe by the time they get it all processed, B. and I will be living together and I can start right away!

Gru from Despicable Me

For some reason I like the Christmas Song “Feliz Navidad”. It played at the pool this morning and made me laugh.

Coffee and uplifting your mood

Read this article today, trying to find a claim to support my statement above:

” COFFEE: A study from Brazil shows that people who drink coffee with milk every day are less likely to suffer from depression. Caffeine is probably the world’s most popular mood-enhancing drug. But it has its pros and cons. Coffee boosts your energy levels, makes you feel more alert, and can improve your memory. A single cup of coffee with milk in the morning can jumpstart your day. However, too much coffee can also wreck your disposition, cause heart palpitation and anxiety, and make it difficult for you to sleep. A cup or two a day is okay. Small doses of caffeine can improve your mood but too much coffee can be bad for your health.”

http://www.philstar.com/article.aspx?articleid=521848 by            Dr. Willie T. Ong, MD.

*I think this is true, especially the one or two cups part.

I rarely drink caffeine. I have enough of a restless/anxiety problem (plus nothing to do/unemployment) so it is not a good idea for me.

But in the morning, on a good day, I like my ritual of drinking either decaf coffee or half-caf (which is really like 1/3 caf for me). That tiny bit of caffeine really boosts my happiness a little bit in the morning and makes me excited to go swim.

My sister laughs at how little caffeine is really in there, since I really use a less-than-normal sized mug and make a cafe au lait with soy milk and then half (1/3 caf) coffee. Kind of ridiculous, huh? 😉

But yeah, I always put this in it:

Love my soy milk. I like the plain kind, or original. I don’t really understand the difference. My morning FM symptoms, except my stomach aches when I eat something with gluten or because of my anxiety, are entirely gone thanks to giving up dairy.

So I love coffee, but I also love tea. My boyfriend bought me a tea infusor (he is so good with the presents and flowers : ) ). I made real mint tea with it last night and it was so good. Reminded me of eating Moroccan food in the south of France when I went there with my sister.

Before adding water; then you add water and brew for 3 minutes.

  • My mom is driving me crazy lately. Just living here in general sometimes is. We just had a good talk though about weddings and current wedding trends. I think she is excited about me getting engaged soon. Maybe I will let her do more wedding planning with me than I thought. It will make her happy. She is not controlling about that stuff in any way (unlike my future mother-in-law), but she will just have fun being involved.
  • Going to go swim today.
  • My restlessness is unbearable. I pray that after Thailand I will be able to get this pharmacy tech job or volunteer 20 hours a week (ok, I KNOW I will do the second one).
  • Trying so hard to use DBT skills, but I just get depressed about the anxiety I deal with all the time, the physical symptoms, the panic attacks, how I have dealt with it my whole life and have a future where I always will to some extent. I am also trying to accept that food, whether not eating or eating, is not really the solution to this problem and I can’t look to it in every situation. I just have to bear it and stop thinking about that, take it out of the equation. My body will tell me when it needs food and then I just have to eat some (HARA HACHI!) and get over it. And otherwise, I just have to feel the anxiety and be proud I am feeling it at least.

Gratitude:

  1. I get to go to Thailand in 8 days! I cannot wait to see my man. I know I say this every day, but I haven’t been so excited about anything in a long, long time (except that I am more excited for when we can start our life together back here in Colorado when he gets home). His deployment is honestly the hardest extended thing I have ever been through.
  2. My sisters – it is a nice escape to watch trash TV together for all of us lately.
  3. Swimming
  4. Tea time

I should get the results of my gene test back next week.

Thank you everyone for your nice comments lately.

Me and the dogs

My basset hound is really sick. He has been getting progressively worse all summer, and all of this really started last November. He is puking everyday, multiple times and in the last week got so lethargic my dad has to carry him outside to go to the bathroom. He won’t eat or hardly drink water. I took him to the vet on Saturday and they didn’t really know what is wrong with him. We took him that day because he was so lethargic and puking and he had blood coming out of his nose. They gave him antibiotics and sent him home because nothing could be seen on his X-rays.

I took him again to the vet today. He just won’t move and seems so sad. Now they are doing a barium test, where he ingests barium and it lights up the intestines so they can more clearly see blockages or ulcers. I just want to find something out. It’s kind of like my own nerve problems. I don’t care how bad it is, I just want to know!

Here is his "wingspan" as we call it. As you can see, this picture is pretty recent and he isn't looking very well.

I will see in a few hours if they find anything on the barium test and on his ultrasound. I really love his vet. Her name is Dr. Kathy and she is so nice. She gives me 1/2 off sometimes on X-rays and stuff because she knows I am poor, it is so nice of her.

Vet bills are so expensive. I would really recommend to get pet insurance right when you get a new dog. You can go through the ASPCA and its a good way to go. http://www.aspcapetinsurance.com/

Of course, I can’t get it now for my dog since it’s considered that he has a pre-existing condition. But there are different levels you can get for varying levels of care, from catastrophic (usually only about $30 a month) to everything included for some coverage.

Hope everyone is having a good week! I am trying to be so brave through so many things. I quit going to therapy which is ironically helping my confidence so much. That is something I will talk about more another time. I really have strong opinions on that though.

Mainly, my boyfriend is helping me set goals and stay strong. I am so thankful we get to talk so much, even though he has been travelling all over Afghanistan lately this summer, and things are getting a little crazy. I think God for our communication.