This year has been rough so far. It has been rough on Veterans and civilians alike.
It has created fear and additional stressors for all such as health fears, concern for loved ones, isolation, job loss, child and family issues, despair, anxiety and so much more.
During our active duty time, we went through traumatic events and learned to do well in crisis situations. However, now as Veterans, the “traumatic” events of 2020 are quite different than we are used to.
A lot of us are falling back on our military training and to be frank, this may not be a good idea.
Here are some warning signs that your current survival strategies are intended for the combat environment:
• Excess rage, agitation, and frustration
• Thinking of others as the enemy and dehumanizing them
• Socially isolating yourself and alienating from friends and family
• New or increased substance abuse
• Looking for risk-taking and thrill-seeking situations
• Gallows humor (laughing about the endless horrors and chaos of war)
These are things that most of us brought home with us upon discharge from Military Service.
These are things that for some, are seared into our minds to this day. However, as a Veteran you have learned to managed these things and function in society.
2020 may have triggered your combat survival strategies.
The events of 2020 certainly has caused us all to feel anxious, unsafe and on high alert.
Even the fact that we see masks on people everywhere we go is driving us crazy.
Lets talk about that one for second.
For civilians, not being able to see the other persons face is unsettling. But to some it’s no big deal, they just wave, say hello or just go about their business and could care less about the other person.
For us, part of our active duty survival strategy included seeing a persons face and quickly discerning their intentions. Is this person a threat? Is this person going to engage? Do I engage with this person? Where does this person fit in the ROE (Rules Of Engagement)?
Today, we are surrounded, AND we can not make the call on peoples intentions.
To us being surrounded is bad enough, not being able to read a situation takes it to a whole other level.
We get it. We understand. You are not crazy. You are not alone.
We also realize that you may see the world as dangerous and you worry about your ability to handle difficult situations. Simply trusting others has become a challenge.
Ultimately, you have to make some hard decisions to get through this.
We encourage you to try and do a few things that bring back just a bit of faith in humanity. We also want to see you in a better mood.
Do things that mean something to you.
When was the last time that you built a model plane? Maybe now is the time to finally watch those youtube videos and learn guitar? Maybe learn a new hobby. Do things with your hands that sort of make progress that you can visually see. Doing things that you enjoy can have a big impact on your mood.
Think of the day in smaller more manageable time frames. Start off by thinking of the day in one hour increments. Tune out from mainstream media, just turn it off. Corporate media is the biggest purveyor of fear these days.
Maybe try safely connecting with family members and friends. Have kids, grand kids, or friends with kids? Try supporting children in their schoolwork, sports or just spending time with them.
Take care of yourself. Take that shower that you may have been avoiding and get cleaned up. Try to get some good sleep. Try to eat healthy. Try to limit or completely stop your use of alcohol and recreational drugs.
Try to focus on the things you can control rather than focusing on the things that you can’t control.
Try to focus on what you do have instead of focusing on what you do not have.
Ultimately, if you are depressed, suicidal or just want to give up, that means that help is needed. So reach out for help. It is OK to do so. Nobody is going to think any less of you if you need to make a call for help.
Remember calling in for Air Support? That was us calling for help back then. If you are reading this, that means that call for help worked back then.
Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) anytime to talk to a crisis counselor. As Veterans we just have to Press “1” once the line is connected.
You are not alone, you are not by yourself through this. If you think about it, a lot of us made it through much worse conditions than 2020 could ever offer. Be strong and we are praying for you.