Courageous Proportions

So today’s article I’d like to dedicate to all my fellow Military Spouses, men and women. Take this from a seasoned wife: I am not new to this.  There are ups and there are downs – always remember that!

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However, I’d like to address something a little controversial.  There are so many spouses that suffer from mental illness, and that often goes unnoticed because, well our spouses are the ones that deploy. Our spouses are the ones with the stressful jobs.  But, what about us?  We hold down the home front.  We take care of the family, all alone thousands of miles away from our families.

I personally struggle because I have two stepsons that I have full-time.  24/7/365.  It is a struggle but I make it work because I have to.

When I was crowned Mrs. Military USA 2015 I opted to join forces with a non-profit called Military Spouses of Strength.  I am an Empowered Woman, and I want to be able to share that with spouses that struggle the way I did.  I want to be able to walk with you in your journey, I want to be able to be there when you need a shoulder to lean on.  I myself, am experiencing some loneliness now.  I am new to Camp Pendleton, and I am having surgery on Monday and I don’t have anyone to help me, except my husband.  I am truly blessed that he is here for me now but let’s role play; what if I was in this position with my husband being deployed?  What would I do?  Well, of course, I would do what every other woman would do; have a mental breakdown. However, I have learned NOT to do that.  Naturally, when something bad occurs your brain goes into panic mode.

There are several ways we can conquer the stigma of mental illness in Military Spouses. First, I’d like to state that in 2012 there was a survey passed among Blue Star Families in the military, and is only about 5,000 families, but of those 5,000 families, AT LEAST 9% of the spouses of the service member admitted to thinking of attempting suicide due to the psychological troubles and issues associated with being a military spouse (Fantz, 2014). Minding you 9% might seem like a small number, but when you take a step back, that’s almost 500 spouses or family members in just a SMALL group that was surveyed.

This NEEDS to come to an end.  I’d like to share an idea with you all on how you should think to empower yourself as a military spouse.  To be different, we must think differently. We must research and become knowledgeable to our surroundings and what type of resources are available for us.  So, as a military spouse, we struggle with empowerment, and often become disempowered in that struggle.  Here are some suggestions:

More Empowered

Less Empowered

Open to change
Closed to change
Assertive
Non-assertive or aggressive
Proactive
Reactive
Self-accountable
Blames others
Self-directed
Other-directed
Uses feelings
Overwhelmed by or fails to recognise feelings
Learns from mistakes
Debilitated by mistakes
Confronts
Avoids
Lives more in the present
Past or future-orientated
Realistic
Unrealistic
Thinks relatively
Thinks in absolutes
Sees alternatives
Tunnel vision
Develops commitments
Keeps obligations
Likes self
Dislikes self
Values others
Negates others
Alert to others’ needs
Selfish
Interested in the world –
Enhances other people’s lives.
Self-centred –
Restricts the lives of others.
Balanced life-style
One arena of life developed
to the exclusion of others

As you read through those, I am sure most of you can relate to more of the right side of this module.  Part of becoming an empowered woman is being able to be courageous!

I was actually taught a lesson from my six-year-old stepson.  He says, “Mom you need to be proactive, not reactive, because Mom if you are proactive good things happen, but if you are reactive bad things happen.”  As I sit here and take in a sentence that a college student might struggle to understand, that just came out of my SIX YEAR OLD’S mouth.  I’m  like, wow…he is right…he is totally right.  I need to be proactive with my choices – in everything I do!  We all do!

I’d like to also share a quote from a famous ancient Roman Emperor [Marcus Aurelius], “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment”.

We as women NEED to learn how to empower one another.  We are the ones that have the power over our lives.  The power to decide.  The power to live an extraordinary life!

We can empower ourselves by:

We can disempower ourselves by:

  • being clear about what we want to achieve and how we might make it happen
  • seeing ourselves as others see us and staying open to change
  • developing skills so that we can make changes
  • noticing when our feelings show that there is a difference between what is and what we think ought to be and acting accordingly
  • focusing on realistic goals
  • deciding we “can’t” without thinking about why not and then looking for alternatives
  • being inward looking and tied to tradition
  • not developing a wide range of skills and therefore having to rely on other people
  • believing that we can do nothing to change our situation or ourselves
  • trying to do too much and being unfocused

From the words of Henry George, and American writer, politician, and political economist; “Let no man imagine that he has no influence. Whoever he may be, and wherever he may be placed, the man who thinks becomes a light and a power”.

You see, it just comes down to us THINKING…which leads to DOING, and we can conquer the world!

To all you military spouses who struggle, I know…from losing my father (also military), to being a fellow spouse, to raising my stepchildren alone, to battling a terrible disease with no hand to hold but my three-year old stepson…I know how bad it can get.  I know that things get hard.  But to #crushthestigma we need to address military spouse suicide prevention, HEAD ON!  I am here, there are other women like me who want to help, who have vowed to help.  Reach out to me.  I am here.

Life is too precious to lose intentionally.

As always, love and hugs!

Yours Truly,

Brittany

~Brittany Smith is Mrs. Military 2015, USMC spouse, and stepmom to 2 beautiful boys.  She is currently battling a severe autoimmune disease with grace and determination.  She is a volunteer, painter, surfer, mountain biker, and in her spare time is writing her first book due out later this year.  

Fantz, A. (2014, March 5). At last, suicides among military family members could be tracked. Retrieved April 17, 2015 from http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/05/us/military-family-suicides/index.html.

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