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When the ex and I talked about getting married, we discussed the military, military life and how things might go. This is hard to explain in words that are understood. And harder for someone that wasn’t in the military to truly understand. So when I deployed in 2010 and came home to find out things weren’t exactly going well in our relationship (and I assure you that is an understatement) I took it in stride. Was I too nice? Definitely, should I have been a complete poopchute? Totally. But in the end, I had somewhere to sleep, and eat (the ship)... We had children to think about. And I was always gone already, so this would be normal to them. I agreed too much, I gave too much, I didn’t fight nearly enough. I apologize if this is long winded and I won’t go into the details over the next 5 years, but let’s just say they were less than ideal for me. In the first week of January of 2015 I was completely and utterly destroyed, mentally, emotionally and monetarily and it was all beginning to show physically. I had chronic tension, chronic insomnia, anxiety, depression all exacerbated by military life and all of it came to a head. My professional career (the only part of my life I seemed to be able to succeed in) was beginning to falter. I had a break down, I had been asking for pictures of MY children for, well, years... and her remark was that she did not have time to take pictures for me. So my mother, did what an amazing mother would. She started pulling pictures of the children off of Facebook, because evidently she had time to plaster pictures all over FB but not for their father. I had just gotten over a bout of serious depression after finally getting a picture the last week of December 2014 after begging for pictures of the children seeing them play with the toys that I bought them for Christmas. How did the ex respond? She sent a picture of my daughter on the ground playing with the toy I got her for Christmas, in the background was the man she was dating (now her new husband), he was, for all intents and purposes naked on the couch. All he was wearing was basketball shorts. When I responded to her, letting her know how inappropriate it was that she sent that to me, she of course acted like she did not know what she did wrong. At this point I questioned all my own actions and my own thoughts when it came to her and the children. So when I posted the picture to FB and asked the question whether I was incorrect in my thinking, of course the resounding answer was that I was NOT incorrect. So in that week in January, walking my dog, utterly a broken man. I came to a realization. I had still, been living for a woman and children that were not a part of my life anymore. The woman that I had fallen in love with had replaced me, completely, as a husband and father. Phone calls would always go unanswered, texts were being ignored. When I made it apparent that I wanted a set time and day to talk to the children on the regular it became my fault that my son was acting out at school and that his reasoning was because “mom was making me talk to dad on the phone.” Of course upon hearing this, I didn’t want my time to be a negative thing and I caved and stopped it. Everything welled up. Everything built up to a breaking point. And I snapped. But not necessarily in the way that I think some would. I made a decision. I was not going to live for the family that had moved away and moved forward from me. It was time for me to focus on ME. It was time for me to focus on MY life. There was at this time only one person I could rely on. ME. I had talked to a few people about my decision, for the most part it was met with positive responses. Some said, “if someone had done that to me, NO ONE would be able to keep me away from my children,” but as I have always said, you don’t get to judge someone until you have walked in their shoes. So I focused on me! 2015 was an amazing year for me, I was in the gym every single day, I am arguably not a runner, okay not arguably, I am NOT a runner. I was already walking the dog 5-7 miles a day. And by late spring, early summer I was RUNNING 5 miles a day! My career skyrocketed, that year I became my commands Senior Sailor of the Year, I went up for regional Sailor of the Year, I became the Surface Navy Association Sailor of the Year for New England, I received a top evaluation and then it happened the epitome of a Navy man’s career. I was selected to be a Chief Petty Officer. A milestone that I had all but written off as I was nearing the end of my career. All this time I was working 10-16 hour days, focusing on my career, my new “kids” (Sailors) and ME. Not thinking about what I left behind. This I know was especially hard on my parents and family/friends back home in Oregon. I still to this day feel as though I have completely let them down, though they may say this is not the case, it will FOREVER be in the back of my mind. I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that this is partially the reason why I seclude myself so often. So last year I retired from the Navy. I said “Good Bye,” to a career that spanned over 20 years, 5 ships, almost 15 years at sea, 1 shore duty, 10 deployments, countless moves up and down the west coast and coast to coast and to the Sailors that had become my children. I went through all the anxiety and depression that one does when separating from the military. But a new realization came to pass, I had the time and the money to right how I was wronged. Not necessarily to try to have a relationship with my actual children as I am a complete stranger to them today. But correct the deficiencies in the divorce decree and actually sever the siphon that that woman had directly connected to my bank account. I had after all been paying over DOUBLE what the state of Missouri would have required me to pay in child support for almost a decade. It took me almost a decade to have the time and the money to pay a lawyer and pursue what was FAIR with the ex-wife. All the while she has been acting like a selfish, childish, money grubbing gold digger. More shady stuff was attempted to by the ex, which all came out when she suspiciously was nice and agreeable to my terms as well as apologetic for years of childish, selfish behavior and I questioned it all. So when she agreed to the stipulations of changing things in our agreement of course I was skeptical. And of course she had ulterior motives. So when I got a lawyer, informed her that I was doing so, it was no surprise that she got upset. I did as I always have, told the truth, told her exactly step by step what was going to happen. And she again agreed, "so long as it wasn't going to be different than what we agreed to." My response to that has always been the same, "I am not the one trying to pull anything, or do anything underhanded. Never have I ever done anything that would negatively impact the other." So it doesn't surprise me when my lawyer informs me that he has been attempting to contact her so that she can sign her side of the paper work and has had no response from her. So, my lawyer, which BTW is ranked in the top 10 for family law in the state of Missouri did what any expensive lawyer would. He documented all his attempts and has served her with papers to appear in court. Furthermore, he has filed a motion since I am a veteran and do not live in the state to be represented in person by him so I don't have to go. There are still days where the memory of her and my lost family takes the wind from my sails, however, moral of the story, what is FAIR is FAIR. You get what you put in, treat people you "care" about like crap, it WILL come back to bite you. Being honest, open, upfront and truthful is always the best way to handle people. Will I ever really recover from all of this? I doubt it. Will I ever marry again? I doubt it. But at this point in my life, I find sitting on the patio watching the dog chase dragon flies and enjoying a glass of whiskey to be far more relaxing that worrying about those things. *That is all*
I recently reconnected with an old friend that I met years ago and we talked about life and how things have panned out. They were going to join the Navy and decided not to at the time. Their comment was that they wished they had joined the Navy and not chose to do things the “hard way.” This is a theme I have heard from my friends and family over the years. That some how joining the military makes things easier? Let’s talk about my time in the Navy. Over 20 years. I was stationed on 5 ships (USS John Young DD-973, USS Lake Champlain CG-57, USS Bataan LHD-5, USS Boxer LHD-4, USS New Orleans LPD-18), did 10 deployments with only one being six months long (the rest were 8-9 months long) and spent some not so always fun time in a very hot and sandy spot. I was stationed in Portland, OR (semi-successful recruiting tour),San Diego, Ca, Newport, RI (amazingly successful Officer Training and Teaching Tour) and Norfolk, VA. I’ve been to Guam (x2), Puerto Rico (x2), Barbados, San Lucas, Peru, South Korea, Hong Kong (x2), Australia (x4), Oman, Jordan, Mubai (x100000000), Singapore (x2), Germany, Bali, Sri Lanka, India (EW), Thailand, Malaysia, Djibouti (i still snicker when I say that), Kuwait, Israel, Turkey, Malta, Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, Mexico, Canada, Afghanistan, Iraq, Qatar, Dubai (x100000000000), Bahrain (x200000000000) and all over the US (I’m sure I am forgetting places). I’ve met SO MANY people from SO MANY places. I have had the ability to touch so many lives for the better (I hope). Made life long friendships with people that I know I would never have had the chance to have without the Navy. Worked on 3 different missile systems, a 5 inch gun system, 5 different radar systems and my pride and join 1 BAD bum (sorry for the language Mom) 20mm Gatling Gun system. I taught Naval Warfare tactics, ship handling, Small Arms Marksmanship and A MILLION other topics to new and old Sailors. I learned how to tell you the electrical resistance of a circuit (though I think my brain would hurt from that today). I learned how to accurately place ordinance on target, on time (Warheads on Foreheads). I’ve been shot at (believe it or not on more than one occasion). I was involved in several VERY pivotal and historical events (they even made a movie about one, but I can’t talk about it “I am the Captain now.”) Saw some SUPER COOL poop (sorry for the language Mom). Blew some poop up (LOTS OF poop) (SORRY FOR THE LANGUAGE FOR REAL MOM). Probably have fired more rounds down range than most Sailors. A sparrow tattoo on a Sailor equals 5000 nautical miles, I recently did the math (because ya know, need more ink) and I need 26 sparrows.... I’ve been on every single continent except Antarctica. I’ve been colder than I ever want to be ever again (-45) and hotter than I ever want to be (145). I have drank more Rip-It’s than I ever want to admit. Eatin food from SO MANY cultures. Drank so much that I thought my liver was literally going to come out of my body, been drunk on beaches in Bali by 10am. I have done so many amazing things that I can’t believe I had the chance to do, swam in every ocean, been a poly wog and then a Golden Shellback (Sailors will understand), eaten chow that I was unsure of what it was, and drank the darkest coffee you’ve ever seen in your life that I’m pretty sure equated to cocaine in a cup. I have a stack of ribbons and medals and certificates in pretty padded folders and a set of anchors that show all the deeds I have excelled at over the years. Now those are some of the great things, lets talk perspective and reality. I was in Boot Camp when my adopted Grandma passed away, “A” School when my Uncle Dan passed away, on deployment when my Grandpa passed away, on deployment when my Grandma passed away, unable to take leave when my Uncle Ron passed away and I never got to say “Good Bye” to any of them... I have been in (I know this will be a surprise to some of you) TWO failed marriages, both of which ended when I found out they cheated on me (though I am pretty sure both said that I was the one that cheated). I missed COUNTLESS anniversaries which led me to understand why they had cheated. My last marriage lasted almost 5 years, of which I did the math, I was only home for 2 of. I missed so many birthdays and landmarks in the family that I have no idea of.... I have no real relationship with (except to be a source of money) 2 children that I fought for years with their mother to try to have a relationship with. Which at this point now I am just waiting for them to come to me. I never owned a house of my own because I was never sure of where I would go next and whether I would stay somewhere. As a result of the above I tend to place myself in a self imposed isolation from those I care about due to the fact that, well, to be truthfully honest, I don’t even think I know how to be in a family anymore. I have clinical depression that I battle with almost daily and went to years of therapy for. I have clinical anxiety, bordering on PTSD as a result of things that have happened to me in my past. I have been an E4 twice and and E5 twice because of toxic and garbage leadership (though in the end I owned my mistakes and they made me a better leader for it, they still have not owned theirs). I stayed in to try to ensure the same bullshit I went through professionally and personally didn’t happen or could be prevented. I have just now started to get my finances in order to even think about maybe buying my own home hopefully in the next 10 years, due to years of being too nice to an Ex that I was till living my life for still up to about 4 years ago. I have spent more time feeling more lonely than I would like to admit, even when I was in a room full of folks. I’ve decorated fake Christmas trees in my workshops and watched while the “kids” I worked with celebrated New Years in hanger bays thousands of miles from home. Taken Sailors duty on Christmas Day, New Years Eve/Day and Valentines Day, because NONE of those holidays mean a damn thing to me anymore. When leaving for my deployment in 2010 I was given a counseling for not “manning the rails” to say “good bye,” to San Diego with the rest of my division in our dress uniforms. And not counseled when I gave my response as to why, by screaming at the top of lungs at a senior petty officer that I didn’t do so because everyone had family and friends on the pier and my family that I hadn’t told anyone but a close friend wasn’t because I was legally separated from weren’t there. I watched horrified while a Sailor shot himself on watch while I was the Chief of the Guard (that still haunts me). I have felt guilt to this day for putting a young kid in the US Navy in 2003 who was killed in a small village in Afghanistan in 2007. I have spent more time in my life with walls around my heart and soul than not, as a result. I am a suicide attempt and ideation survivor. I am a loner for the most part, have always been, probably always will be. It tends to lend to be the easier path. In the end, remember this, we ALL have a hard life. It is all a matter of perspective. Am I going to be okay? I don’t know, I would like to thinks so. As a result of much of the bullshit (sorry once again for the language Mom) that has occurred in my life I have found that those that I tend to let into my life, tend to be attached to me somehow or some way for the long haul. I have always said that NO MATTER WHAT, if you need help, put your pride on a shelf and ask me for it and you KNOW I will be there for you. Remember it is not about materialistic things or money that makes you successful, it is how you learn from life. Or IF you learn from life and life experiences. Telling those that you love, that you love them, hugging them when you see them (not just a hand shake necessarily). Always keeping an open line of communication or trying to talk to those you care about. These things are most important in life. Grow together, stay connected, we have each other. These are the important things in life.