I have been with my husband for nearly two years now. I was originally diagnosed with depression and anxiety five years ago. My mental health has got bad when I went through breakups back in the day, but it hits differently when I have to say "goodbye for now" to my husband, who's in the army.
A lot of people are quick to say, "Oh, you signed up for this," and "You'll be fine, it's only X amount of time." That totally disregards the fact that there's an additional factor affecting me when he's leaving — my depression.
I met my husband right after his first deployment. The first time I really experienced him being away was last summer. He left to go train cadets in Kentucky for three months. When I originally got the news, I was upset. Angry, mad, sad, confused, scared, and everything in between. I was only a few months pregnant at that time and was already having a lot of issues with my pregnancy, which had worsened by the time he was actually leaving. I spent what felt like a week just laying in bed sleeping, or if I was awake, crying. He wasn't too far away, but I was struggling, physically, and mentally. I was also in and out of the hospital while he was away, and the army just didn't care. They didn't care that one night at the hospital they couldn't detect my son's heartbeat and when they did, it was very slow. They didn't care when they were called by the hospital saying I was being held there for monitoring, for both my pregnancy and my mental health. My husband being gone from me already made my mental health bad, but the army not caring at all made it worse.
Thankfully I was able to go to Kentucky to visit him twice that summer, which helped, but it never got easier saying goodbye at the airport. With time, things were okay and I was fortunate enough to have my family in the same state as me at the time, but that depression still lingered. The constant anxiety attacks wondering if he was okay or if he'd come back and simply just not love me anymore. Some can just find things to distract their minds from those worries, but for me it was impossible. I had the feeling of missing a part of me, alongside other feelings I cannot even put into words. It was a dark summer.
Fast forward and here we are, just arriving in Hawaii a month ago. On his first day at work, they asked him if he wanted to go to a month-long training with everyone else — as if he had a choice. He told them no, for many reasons. One being that he doesn't want to leave the burden of being in a new place, not having our household goods yet, having to find childcare, etc all on me, while taking 15 credits at a university. They said okay, so it was assumed he wasn't going. I was actually surprised they had even asked him because when does the army ever care about families, right? The next day he was told that he is going. He doesn't have his gear, we had no childcare, we had just gotten off quarantine — I have no friends or family here.
Anyway, he just left to go to Louisiana for a month. Needless to say, I'm a wreck. Yes, it's only a month, blah blah blah. But to me, it's devastating. I know no one here. I have to take care of a 1-year-old all by myself, while in the middle of midterms for all five of my classes, and staying on top of my homework, and attending class, etc. Stressed is one word to describe me. Depressed is another. I haven't eaten anything but a small ice cream sandwich in two days, haven't showered in three days, and I have no motivation to do anything. I feel like I just want to sleep all day. I am crying off and on, feeling numb off and on, and just overall not wanting to do anything.
We moved to Hawaii with the intention of it helping my mental health, because they don't deploy here and there's no winter, but what has happened in the span of a month has just torn it down. It was better in Colorado than it has been here. The point being, some military spouses and partners can do the distance thing just fine, with or without kids. Throw depression and anxiety into the mix, and it's far from fine. It's hard. I tell myself I can do it. I tell myself "It's not that bad, other people don't see their significant other for nine months and more," but it doesn't help. I could post to a military spouse page asking for advice, but it's always the same answers. "Distract yourself," or "That's not a lot of time, it'll be fine," or stuff like that. I hope one day I can get to that point where it just doesn't phase me, but right now it does. I even hear "Go get counseling," or "Try getting medication for the depression," and I have in the past, but it doesn't work. I've exhausted all of those options already. Nothing seems to help, I feel as if I have no one to turn to, and I feel numb to the world.
That's my reality of having depression and being married to a solider. It's not a fun life, it hasn't gotten easier, but I love him and want him to be happy, even if it means sacrificing my own mental health.