30 January 2012

PPD resources for the military

If there's one thing that my readers have probably picked up on from my blog by now, it's that it can be really hard to speak up and ask for help, to find a support system when you feel like everyone is just going to look at you and judge you for being a bad mom, or weak, or whatever. A big part of why I blog, of why I'm as open as I am on Facebook, Twitter, and pretty much any medium when there's even a hint of a discussion turning towards the issue of PPMD, is because I want to make sure people know about the resources taht are available to them, to make sure that people know that they aren't truly along.

Today, though, I'd like to focus on a specific group of people who face some additional obstacles: military spouses. Just as a note, for the purposes of this post, the term "spouses" is not meant to exclude fiances or girlfriends. I will be using "spouse" to refer to anyone who is any type of significant other to a member of the military.

I was lucky when my first two kids were born.  Eric was (still is) in the military but his unit was only a couple of hours away from where I grew up, so I had family and friends close by. When I was hospitalized with PPD after Lizzie was born, my mom was able to come down and stay with us for a short time to help. We were able to drive up to visit my family and friends, and it made it so much easier to cope knowing that I had that safety net so close by, knowing that I wasn't all alone.

Some women are not so lucky. Some women give birth far away from any of their family and friends. Their husbands may be deployed to a combat zone, may be on sea duty, may be on an unaccompanied tour to *pick a location outside of the Lower 48). They might not have any close friends nearby. They might not have a church family to call for help. Their FRG may be less than stellar. Their doctor may be one of those who is not very well informed about how to help women dealing with PPMD. There might not be a good hospital nearby that can help them and if there is, how do you go inpatient when you need to if there isn't anybody you trust to watch your baby?

The feelings of isolation and loneliness can be overwhelming, homesickness can be a real bitch, and if your husband is in a combat zone that stress isn't going to make matters anything but worse. Let's not forget that sometimes (often?), as a military spouse, you feel all this pressure to be strong, tough, and brave. You can feel like you can't let your spouse down and you certainly can't add to his stress and distraction while deployed by telling him how you feel. He doesn't need to be worrying about you, you need to suck it up. After all, this is what you signed up for by being with a military member. And you don't want to ask for help if it could negatively affect his security clearance, mean he loses his job, get him kicked out of the military or reclassed, or get him looked upon unfavorably by his coworkers and his superiors.

This is just a scratch on the surface of the issues that military spouses might be dealing with that can greatly exacerbate the problems that are already inherently associated and expected to come with a PPMD. I myself dealt with a lot of these thoughts and, in fact, put off seeking help due to being concerned about how it might affect his job. I can't imagine how it would be to be dealing with all of this AND be in a different state or country than your home, your family, your friends.

Fortunately, there are resources that are out there to help. Some are especially devoted to helping military families dealing with PPMD, and some are general resources that, while not military specific, still mean that a military spouse can have a support system even though she's far away from her loved ones. This post is dedicated to all of the military spouses who have dealt with something like this, all of those who will, and their families. You are not alone, no matter how far away you are and no matter whether you actually know anyone at your current duty station.

  • The first resource I always recommend is PSI (PostPartum Support International). They have coordinators specifically for the military. Their page is http://www.postpartum.net/Get-Help/PSI-Support-for-Military-Families.aspx.
  • Another excellent resource is a Twitter online community at #ppdchat. Lauren Hale of My Postpartum Voice runs a moderated chat on various PPMD related topics twice a week, on Mondays at 1p and  8:30p EST. However, there is pretty much ALWAYS someone online who will respond to tweets at the #ppdchat topic. We're not trained mental health professionals, but we're moms who have BTDT and some of us are still there. It's a wonderful source of love and support whenever you need it, wherever you are, whatever you're going through.
  • Military OneSource, while not PPD specific, is an excellent resource for help for anything a military member or their dependents might be going through. They have a page specifically about PPD and you can contact them for confidential, outside-the-military free counseling and they should also be able to help you find someone in your area who deals with whatever specialty you need.
  • PostPartum Support Virginia has some good resources including telephone and email support and support groups.
  • PostPartum Health Alliance has a lot of services, a directory, resources, etc. Their page specifically lists the PHA Warmline "For emotional support and/or referral information, please call 619-254-0023."

This is by no means an exhaustive and complete list of all the resources out there that can help a military spouse feel less alone. If you Google "Postpartum depression military spouse", many links come up. There are also several blogs and resources linked off to the right (here on my blog); their owners are a wealth of information. And of course, if you have a link to a resource, comments are always open down below.

If you are a military spouse, you may feel all alone and far away from everything and everyone you know and love, but you don't have to be. Reach out and let others help you.


1 comment:

  1. Love this update. My PPD was *awful* with Jack, and I fear for this time around. But knowing the signs and symptoms, and the resources for help will put me a step ahead this time.