My old friend, my ass. Two posts in one week!? It’s like CHRISTMAS. But seriously, folks…
I’ve been battling depression since my early teens, with ebb and flow in terms of severity. It tends to run in my family as well, with my father and middle sister struggling with depression as well. As far as I know, my father has never attempted suicide or self-harmed; my middle sister has definitely self-harmed before, but I’ve never asked about any actual suicide attempts. As for me, I’ve made multiple suicide attempts, but only self-harmed for the first time a few weeks ago. My mental health has always been in kind of a flux and flow state, though I do feel there’s been some significant improvement since I’ve been in the Navy.
It’s ironic, given that the military lifestyle is one of such intense stress, but the healthcare – and, more specifically, the mental health care – that is available to military members is leaps and bounds beyond what I had at my disposal prior to enlisting. The doctors I have now and the knowledge that I’ve gained in my time as a corpsman have all contributed to my current state of… not sure I’d call it well-being, per se, but definitely better-than-it-was-being. I seem to be stable on my current meds, I follow up with my shrink in a few weeks, and my therapist and I are back on a seeing each other every two weeks kind of schedule.
I’ve wavered back and forth in terms of my intentions for my military career – whether I wanted to get out or stay in, and if I were to stay in for how long – but more and more lately I feel like I’ll probably stay in for quite a while. My current career path has me re-enlisting and commissioning as soon as I finish my Bachelor’s, and I like where I see that taking me. I try to balance the amount of time I spend in the present and the future, but the idea of a brighter future ahead of me is what has kept me going here lately, especially with the amount of complete and utter bullshit the Universe has been throwing my way lately.
For me, the biggest determining factor in whether I stay in or get out is going to be my next duty station. It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed my time at my current duty station, to a certain degree, but the command that I’m with here isn’t exactly the best and I’m looking forward to getting a taste of what the Navy is like elsewhere. In roughly a week or two I should be finding out if I got selected for orders during this last pick, and I’m torn between hoping I did and hoping I didn’t, as some personal things have come up lately that would change some of the billets I chose, but – at the end of the day – I’m just ready to move on with my life. It’s time.
For the next eight months or so (which is about how long I have before I PCS), I need to start making a concerted effort to schedule my self care. I need to work on telling people “no” and taking me time when I need it and not letting others strong-arm me into things I don’t want to do. I need to set aside time for myself to read with a cup of tea or do yoga or just sit quietly alone somewhere and meditate or whatever it is on any given day that I feel is the best self care option for me. My therapist has been telling me this ever since the first time I saw her, but more and more now I’m seeing the actual need to do it, something which I’m sure will have her rolling her eyes at me. She knows that I’m exceedingly stubborn and does her best to be patient with me anyway. She is an excellent human being. Most people don’t put up with me like she does unless they’re related to me or I’m paying them.
Well, I guess that’s all for now. Just a reminder to all of you out there struggling with your own mental health issues: you are not alone. Always keep fighting. There are people who are here for you. There are people who need you here, alive and well. And remember that suicide doesn’t end the pain. It just passes it on to someone else.
Until next time, stay frosty, nerds. Excelsior!