Veterans are special in many ways. They are heroes, warriors, moms, dads, brothers and sisters. But most importantly, they are human. They face many of the same emotional struggles and issues as those who have never served, but carry much more diverse baggage that remains unseen. Holidays are stressful for many us who do not struggle with the same issues as veterans. Although many of the signals are common, the mental and emotional burden veterans’ face can be insurmountable. Crisis lines are available to assist the vet with their particular range and various scopes of struggle. Recognizing these signs in your loved one or by the vet themselves knowing something is “not right”, outreach programs are a valuable resource before the depressive things manifest into “dangerous” outcomes for the vet and the family as well.
Emotional experiences from the military service are vastly different and sometimes go unspoken by the vet but are very apparent in their behavior. Here are some definite warning signs that trouble is brewing.
- Hopelessness and withdrawal, a feeling of being trapped, and there’s “no way out.”
- Expressing things like “What’s the point?”
- Symptoms that mimic bipolar disorder such as drastic or unusual mood swings
- Rage and anger and unusual agitation
- Dangerous and risky behavior that appears to be out of the ordinary
- Increasing alcohol and drug use
Are you having thoughts about “just ending it all”? Don’t let the thoughts gets out of control. Remember, as a soldier, you had to be in control of your situations. Now is no different. If you are having these thoughts, and they become repetitive, and, yes, frightening, it’s time to start reaching out for help. As you relied on your brothers in the battlefield, you are now facing a new battle off the front line…and you need to rely on someone again.
Can you check anything off this list? Even if it is just one, it’s time for immediate attention.
Thinking about hurting yourself, or considering suicide as a solution to end the depression or pain whether it’s physical, mental or emotional? Thinking about suicidal options? Talking about suicide or causing harm to yourself?
Suicide rates rise quickly during the holiday season for many. Are you experiencing any of these things? Is someone you love, a spouse or compatriot displaying any of these signs? Suicide always has a hidden agenda in the mind of one who suffers from the pain and torment that cannot be heard with the human ear. If you are or if you have a vet in your life displaying or verbalizing any of the signs, it’s time to seek help.
And remember – You are not alone. Seeking help is nothing to be ashamed of. As you had the courage to face the battlefields, have the courage to take the steps for help.
Please see the resource page under mental health issues for more information and help for veterans with depression.
About the Author
Leslie Mestrow is a veteran freelance writer and public relations specialist from Toledo, Ohio, focusing on lifestyle and human interest stories. She’s also a writer for U.S. Vets, Inc.