In today’s installment I want to share a few keys to my healing process. I’m thankful that there are so many different resources available and want to share them here for others to utilize.
Keys are quite helpful. If I were to try to drive my car without keys, I wouldn’t get very far. If I lost my keys I couldn’t get into my house or check my mail. These are very different reasons to need keys, (transportation, shelter, communication) and yet they are all very important to my way of life.
The things that have helped me heal over the past few months are like keys. Each one helps me in a specific aspect: friendships, emotions, and my view of my purpose in life, etc.
I am almost back to normal, thanks to very specific keys that I am beyond excited to share with you. Books, the encouragement and prayers of friends, tips and ideas my counselor gave me, including the realization I mentioned in the introduction to this series are all necessary keys to my healing.
Key #1: Counseling. At our first counseling session, I explained some of my then-current symptoms to her. (Tired during the day, unable to fall asleep quickly at night (which led to napping which perpetuated this vicious cycle), disinterest in my favorite pastimes, lack of concentration, weight gain, easily startled, beyond irritable.) She asked me to think of myself as a cup full of water. Full to the brim. The water represented emotions. If one more drop tried to get into that cup, what was bound to happen? The water was going to spill over the edge of the cup. Because I was so full of emotional upheaval due to the stress of the past 10 months, I had little room left in my “cup” to accept any new emotions. So, when one of the boys would drop a toy, naturally I’d about jump out of my skin. I couldn’t really add excitement over new adventures in Texas to my cup because I was too full of sadness over what I had lost. I wasn’t able to fully welcome new friends into my life because I was still clinging to the ones I missed at every memory. The counselor’s advice on how to lessen the amount of water in my cup, which would allow me to accept new water for my new situations, was to take control of my thoughts.
For example, when I’d get overly annoyed at the raw heat, I had to stop, think whatever thought was going through my mind, accept that as how I felt at the moment, and then tell myself, “Sure, that blast of heat you felt upon exiting your house was miserable, but fall is just around the corner and there will be some relief before too long.” (Can I admit here that a few times I considered moving to the southern hemisphere next summer so we can just follow winter around?) My counselor didn’t want me to deny my thoughts or feelings, but to think them and counter them with something positive. Her counseling tactics weren’t “Christian” but they were all easily lined up with Biblical practices… “take every thought captive.”
Over the past month I’ve beaten myself up hundreds of times for feeling so blue. I’m typically not one to get blue, to be depressed. I’ve always been sympathetic of others struggling, but I’ve never had more than a bad week. NEVER had a bad month. And for goodness sake, never would have guessed that I would have a bad year. 2013 has been rough for me. But the realization that hit me the other day, the one I mentioned in the Intro to this series, took much of the sting away… so much that at this moment, I almost feel like myself again. It was the realization that I’ve only been in this house for two months (when I started counseling) and need to give myself time to settle. It took 10 months of upheaval to get to this moment… I need to give myself a break!
How to utilize this key for yourself: For my civilian friends, your local church can guide you to a counselor. And I know there are tons of other resources, but I am just not aware of them. For my military friends, you have tons of resources. First, your chaplain. I happen to know a great one but unless you’re 1-227 Air Cav I doubt you’ll have much access. He’s pretty much tied up with his soldiers! Secondly, you have the Family Life Chaplain at your duty station. Next you have access to OneSource. PLEASE click on that link and bookmark it. Even if you don’t need counseling, please keep this resource on your mind for use if you ever need it, but also to share with others when they need it. The page I linked to has info on all the types of military counseling available. It also talks about the privacy you will receive during your counseling. I found my counselor by calling the Family Life Chaplain’s office here at Fort Hood. She is not military related at all… I think she’s subcontracted in and helps ease the counseling load of the Chaplains. She doesn’t take notes, she doesn’t keep records. All confidential unless I were to express a desire to harm myself or others. (She was with MFLC – Military & Family Life Counseling.) If you require further assistance you can go through TriCare. The MFLC can guide you through the TriCare process.
A Key #2: Books: I read a book called, After the Boxes are Unpacked. The author, Susan Miller, has moved multiple times in her life and she’s not even military! She has captured my every emotion within her book and as I read it, I cried and wondered how in the world she knew my heart so well. This book was given to me years ago at a previous PWOC installation. I haven’t needed it until now. I’ve always been able to bloom where I was planted. I’ve always been excited about the moves. I never struggled with disappointment over where we were moving, until this time. I was so thankful I had this on my shelf. I remembered seeing it when we were organizing the bookshelf after we moved in and thinking, “It might be time to read this.” It was. And I have found it so helpful that I want to order a case of these to give away to others one by one. Even if they don’t need it during their current move, if they keep it on their shelves they can pull it off and read it when they do find themselves struggling. Susan Miller has a website that is full of helpful information, FAQs, sections devoted to the military. I do hope you’ll visit JustMoved.org.
The key that Susan gave me that unlocked my heart more than any other resource I’ve mentioned was that there is a distinct difference between clinging to the past and cherishing it. When you are clinging to something (friends, places, pasts, desires, wishes) you are unable to open your arms to receive what is being offered to you (new friends, new places, new experiences, new desires, new wishes). Susan let me know that cherishing what I had was the right way to look at Germany. I could cherish that time, keeping it safe, fresh on my mind, on the tip of my tongue, without clinging to it at the detriment of my emotional health. Cherishing that time and those memories is healthy; clinging to them is not.
This concept is what most unlocked my heart to accept Texas, and new friendships, and I’ve felt more at peace since I grasped this concept.
Books offer so much. I’ve also been reading a book to the boys about a missionary to South America which I’ll be featuring in Monday’s blog post. It has reminded me that I really have it made here in America. Even when I am asked to live overseas I am always provided for and given access to quality shelter and a commissary. I have a very comfortable life. Another book that I haven’t mentioned yet, because I am not very far into it and honestly, don’t usually recommend books I haven’t fully read, is called the Mind, Body, Mood Solution by Jeffrey Rossman. It was recommended to me by a friend I trust. It helped her, so I figured that I’d add it here to my “Books” section.
Key #3. Friends. New ones and old ones. Facebook has been invaluable to me as I’ve been able to stay in direct contact with friends all over the world. It has also been great for helping me get to know new friends here in Texas.
Key #4. Exercise – I think I’m going to have to change my exercise routine up a bit. Running by itself isn’t helping me get the weight off anymore. It definitely helps my mood, and I know it’s limited the weight gain I have experienced, but I need something more to get back to where I was most comfortable with myself.
Key #5. Sleep – I know I need 8 hours to feel my best. I’ve started something new: I set my alarm for 8 hours after I go to bed. Even if I’m not waking up at 5:30 like I want to, I have decided that, at least at this time in my life, I need solid sleep more than I need early-morning productivity.
Key #6. Hobbies – When you feel your lowest, pick a hobby that you’ve always enjoyed and just go do that for a while, even though you really don’t “feel like it.”
Key #7. Diet – (Not diet as in “trying to lose weight” but diet in “the foods you eat over a course time.” The English language needs to use two different words here.) I am not going to beat you up and make you feel bad for your diet. However, I am going to mention that there are things we tend to eat that sabotage our health and our moods. I know I have some work to do in this area, and I’m going to work on it, but I am not going to go off the charts crazy and start making my own Cheez-its. If that’s your thing, go for it. I just know that I don’t have time for devoting that kind of attention to my diet.
Where I am today: most of my symptoms are gone. I’m sleeping much better. I’m not nearly as irritable (though one might say that it’s partly because the weather has cooled down considerably). I’m grabbing my camera more often, and I’m more open to finding new additional friends. I say ‘additional’ because that reminds me that I get to add friends to my already amazing bouquet of relationships and that I don’t have to lose friends to make new ones.
Yesterday someone posted this picture on my Facebook page with a little note saying that I am loved.
That’s my story. In way too many words, and I know that. Please forgive the length of each post. The next, and final one, will post on Monday, and is tied into the series about healing, and it yet could stand alone. I look forward to sharing that one with you. It goes into detail about the book I am reading to the boys and my thoughts on being a Chaplain family… the reason we are moving all over the world every 6-36 months.
If you misplace your car keys, you spend lots of time trying to locate them so you can get your life back on track. The keys I’ve talked about today are just as valuable to me as my car keys are. My entire life runs more smoothly when I have all of them working together.
Other posts in this series: