Following a rape in the military, I tried to master the art of avoiding what I was feeling for several years. In reality, I was displaying symptoms of emotional suffering and I did not ask for help. My personality begun to change as I worked myself to the point of exhaustion through demanding projects, extensive traveling, and a Master’s program. All the while, I was trying to spend as much time with my children as possible. I thought the busy schedule allowed me to not address the unresolved issues the rape caused me.

I felt alone and hopeless. I did not think anyone cared. I even met with a friend trying to find the courage to ask for help, but my friend did not see my pain. I began to engage in risky behavior. I took large doses of the Ativan and Valium prescribed to me. Additionally, I drank wine along with the medication. As a result, I found myself in the Emergency Room, near death with my husband by my side. I was very lucky the medical staff was able to save me. I overdosed twice more after this initial episode.  Since then, I have received help and I want to tell my story to encourage others to seek help as well if they are suffering emotionally.

Everyone can benefit from understanding and applying the Five Signs. I am confident that my friend, with no formal mental health training, could have recognized the symptoms of emotional suffering had the Five Signs existed. As a Chapter Captain for Team Red, White and Blue as well as a clinician at Bacon Street Youth and Family Services, these Five Signs helped me to get those in need help quickly.   Knowing the Five Signs and educating our military communities will help reduce the risk of suicides, drug and alcohol abuse, and domestic violence.  Most importantly, it provides military communities a very accessible, affordable and safe tool to use.

Renee Champagne is a Give an Hour volunteer, experienced Wellness Coach with youth and families, Counselor, Speaker, Trauma Expert and Yoga Instructor with a mission to improve the health, well-being and quality of life of all by empowering people to promote and model positive attitudes and behaviors through collaboration, personal stories and a lifelong commitment to wellness.

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