08 Mar A TO Z: 26 ISSUES TRANSITIONING VETERANS FACE #4
It starts out slow when it first hits you. You may not even notice the change, because it is so subtle at the beginning. Slowly you start to lose interest in the activities you used to enjoy. Your friends and family, who are closest to you, start to wonder if everything is okay. You may end up turning to medication, illegal drugs, alcohol and other dangerous activities you normally would never have considered prior to joining the military, for relief.
These are the realities of depression and unless it’s discussed in an open forum, the epidemic will continue. Understanding what depression is and how it can affect you, is the first step. Depression is defined as a state of sadness or reduced activity. This can happen to anyone at any time. Even when you think you have everything under control, something can happen that seems like everything has suddenly fallen apart.
When veterans return home, we have to acclimate all over again. This is a process and some aspects are easier than others. Being able to talk to someone close to you is an option, which in most cases can have big rewards. It’s never easy when a major life event occurs. That’s why having a close friend who understands the elements of transitioning and dealing with the scars of the battlefield, can really help you heal.
When a veteran raises his or her hand for help, it’s not a sign of weakness; rather, it’s a sign of courage, character and strength. To recognize when you need help and overcoming your ego takes power. We are trained for war; however, we need to learn how to grow as a civilian in peacetime. It’s not easy, but it’s possible. When positive steps are taken, the cycle of feeling alone and helpless can be reversed. Taking control starts today, because tomorrow can be too late.