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Looking for help

by Heather
(USA)

Hi everyone,

My name is Heather and I'm a Navy wife. It's hard being married but living alone- and it definitely doesn't make dealing with my anxiety or depression any easier.

A bit about us: We're newlyweds (this past November!) but we've been together for nearly 9 years! We're young and some people thought I was getting myself into a mess, but even with the struggles, I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm with the one I love... well, at least when he's home. But I am a decent ways away from our family and closest friends. I'm slowly making friends, but it is hard. I definitely thought I'd be more settled after 2 months in a new place. But that's just not the case. I've been here every night. My husband, however, has only been here for about a third of those nights. And he's going to be deployed soon. I dread that day, but i know it will come and I will once again resume the role of taking care of both our lives and our home.

I took a leave of absence from school a few years ago, and thought I'd return a few month later and finish my degree. Graduate with my class. It wasn't that simple though, you see, the reason I left was because of my general and social anxiety and depression. I wasn't positive what was happening to me, as I'd never felt so not myself before. Sure there were time in the past that I was more anxious than normal, but never like this. I found myself having multiple panic attacks every day. I stopped going to class because i was paranoid to be around people. I felt like everyone was ganging up on me, staring at me. Reality was, most people didn't notice my strange behaviors. Or didn't think anything of it when I grabbed my books and ran to my car. They assumed I had an emergency. Not that I was having a panic attack. It took me weeks to gather the courage to seek help. I made numerous appointments and canceled them because I couldn't bear the thought of interacting with people. Two of my roommates called me an alcoholic and a recluse behind my back. Luckily my other roommates were my friends and told me... via text message even when I wouldn't answer my door. My best friend would barge in anyways and convince me to come out for awhile. Spring break came and I went home, only to process my leave papers and only return for my things. The next semester came and went without me going back. And another. My friends graduated, some went to onto graduate school, others got "real" adult jobs. It took me another year to start to feel back to myself. I was finally ready to get my life back on track, now I needed the money to do so. i was working full time again and saving for school. I was going to go local so I could stay in my current apartment. But I decided that I no longer anted the same dream, same degree. I had changed, grew. I was hoping to transfer most of my classes and attend nursing school.

Skip ahead a few more months and I got engaged to the love of my life! I planned our simple wedding and dinner with our loved ones in a matter of a month. I found us a home to move to near where he was stationed. I planned these things while he worked over 100 hours a week. We continued our usual travels to see each other whenever he had time off. I worked around his schedule (and still do) because of the little bursts of precious time with him. I still plan to go back to school. I'd be starting in a few days actually, if it wasn't for the fact that the school, while accepting me as a transfers student, will not accept my 3.5 years of college as proof of high school graduation. I've been fighting with my high school for a while to process a copy of my diploma over the phone. They say I need to come in a sign papers and even still it will take a few weeks to mail it. I no longer live anywhere near them and need to get proof from the Navy that I'm an eligible dependent so that they will fax me the things I need to sign. But anyone who has ever dealt with the military knows that sometimes these things take awhile, even when it means putting your life on hold when it does take awhile. Especially when you're making those requests around the holidays. I only need 5 classes to enter the nursing program. And yet, I'll have to hope it's sorted out for the fall. One, so I can keep my sanity while I'm home most days alone. And two, so that I can fulfill my dreams too. So that eventually we have a dual income instead of him supporting us and my minimum wage job just adding to our pile of bread crumbs. As many others know, money can be a lot of the stress causing factors in a marriage, let alone a military marriage.

I'm doing my best to step out of my comfort zone and test the waters with the other spouses, but they don't tend to take super kindly to the new wives, even though many were once there themselves. I was told by one of them that I'm only a few months in a honey it doesn't get any prettier so I should strap on my big girl boots and sit tight. She seemed to think that being married for anything less than her wasn't marriage. And that because I'm a newlywed that means that I haven't been living this lifestyle for nearly 4 years already. Or because we don't have kids that means it's not hard.

And so I press on, knowing that soon enough I'll be back in his arms. And I will cherish those days before he leaves again and the days of my "role" return.

The days where I will start a second job and go through the looks of pity again as I tell my new coworkers that my husband is gone currently. I think those looks are part of what makes being without him so hard. As I try to claw my way out of this cycle, the pity throws me back in. I know most people mean well, and I genuinely appreciate that. But it's difficult to not be sad all the time when people expect you to be. When somebody makes a comment about how can you be so happy when your husband is gone?

So I ask anyone who reads this, let the individual decide how they feel. Choose whats right for them. And understand that that may change every single day. We're all here living and battling our own fights and insecurities one day at a time. There is no need to do anything that isn't helpful to those around you. Especially when you can see them struggling. So smile, nod, and maybe say hello. Or just keep walking. But certainly, do not pretend that you've lived a day in their shoes, even if you think that your stories are the same.

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