I served four years at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Lompoc, California. I had to help bury two fellow Active Duty service members who died from suicide and also talked my friend out of killing himself.  I know the Five Signs of Emotional Suffering as well as the Healthy Habits and have received treatment for my own mental health issues. The Habit that helps me the most is to Take Care of myself, eat well, sleep, and exercise.

Nobody quite can prepare you for military life and the demands it asks of you. When I started having serious mental health issues was when our work schedule was lengthened.  I was going through a rough break-up and my best friend got orders to deploy. I also was bullied, harassed, and shunned by some of my co-workers and bosses. It was bad enough fighting the enemy only to have enemies that shared the same uniform.  I woke up one day in my bed and couldn’t calm down and felt I needed to talk to someone before I do something I would regret. I felt so alone, forgotten, and unappreciated.

When I found that I needed help I called my supervisor and he got me to a mental health specialist which made a HUGE impact on my well-being. In the military, mental health issues are often ignored and stigmatized. Many members suffer in silence, which is the ultimate pain in my opinion.  Having mental health issues was the worst pain I had. It felt like I had a headache and heartache all the time. I had trouble concentrating but when I got the professional help of the mental health officer, he eased my worries. That’s why I implore all of those who are suffering to not bottle it in.

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