Military mama: Treating depression not sign of weakness

There is a topic that I’ve been nervous to approach but the more I interact with military spouses I have realized just how prevalent the problem is: Depression. It exists. It is out there. It is probably closer to home than most of us like to admit. And more than anything, it is not a sign of weakness.

Even though it is 2011 and the vast majority of Americans have accepted that occasional depression is simply a part of life, within a military community this dreadful “D-word” seems to hold a social stigma that would be more welcome in the fifties.

This one is especially for the ladies. We try so hard to be everything to everyone and often the person put on the back burner is yourself. I am still in the process of learning to accept my own strengths and weaknesses. For far too long I allowed my weaknesses to define me, instead of my strengths. Face it, we can’t be good at it all.

Honestly, the first step is admitting that there is a problem. Initially, this doesn’t have to be to a doctor or even a best friend. The biggest obstacle is facing yourself and saying something isn’t right. We could all be happier. We can all take action to improve our lifestyle. But there are times when a chemical or hormonal imbalance is giving an unfair advantage to those dark thoughts that do us a great disservice.

There are many larger issues that can arise when bouts of depression go ignored, or worse when people begin to self medicate with alcohol or other substances. I’m not saying that everyone needs to run to the doctor and get a prescription. For some people medications available can help take the edge off so that the playing field is leveled a bit. For others, exercise and diet are used to naturally increase your endorphins, serotonin and balance out your vitamin intake. Another viable option is to simply talk it out. There are many times when I simply feel better by expressing myself vocally.

I encourage any of you experiencing the blues that, just don’t fade away, to take action. The fear of repercussions for ‘coming out’ with your depression are far less drastic than the potential of living with it untreated and ignored. This is a tough role for anyone, and there is no shame looking for help when you don’t know where to turn. The best thing that you can do for yourself and your family is be the best you possible, even if that requires outside assistance.