Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Confusion

We started our PCS journey in May.  May 17th to be exact.  That was when we got conditional orders for Germany. Since then, we have been doing things that needed to be done for a 3-year move to another country; selling our 2 humongous SUV's for a single *whispers-station wagon-whispers* that would be better on the Germany roads and a teeny bit better on gas (damn lying car salesmen!), buying our expensive ass passports (nearly $900 when including all the documentation!), combing through the house deciding what to sell, give away, etc.  In short--it's taken up a HUGE portion of the last couple of months.  Mostly for me, to be honest.  Our children are not excited about the situation, and my husband really has no choice - since he's property of the Army & will go where he's told to go.  I have wanted to go overseas since Day 1 of our marriage. We have been here at Ft Hood our (yes, OUR) entire military career, over half his time to retirement, and I want something new.  Yes, I love having both sets of parents close to us now and the familiarity of being close to where I have grown up, but I want something more.  I want to experience life.  I want to know that I lived. I don't think that when Ryan retires, we will suddenly say "Hey! I know. Let's move to another country to try it out!" By that time, our children will be in college and beyond, and God willing our parents are still alive, and they will be a lot older and we will want to spend as much time with them as possible. In short-- this is the perfect time to go and live overseas. Also- Audree is in 7th grade.  Once a military child hits high school, the Army tries to not move you from your duty station so that your child can have 4 continuous years of high school. What that means is if we don't move to Germany NOW, Audree will enter HS in 2 years, and we will be effectively stuck here for the rest of Ryan's career, because Audree goes through 4 years, when she graduates, it will be time for Delanie to start and then Landry is 1 year after her, so that is 9 years "stuck" to a base. In 11 years, Ryan will already be eligible for retirement. Thus, the time is now. 

Ryan's actual report date isn't until just after the new year, but we were given "early reporting" as an option, meaning we could actually get there a few months early.  We chose to take that route because we are so freaking excited to get there! All plans had been green lighted and we were at the last few hurdles to skip over before we ordered our tickets via the base. I went for our medical screenings last week - which is mandatory for an overseas move.  They are basically looking to make sure that no one in your family has an medical issues that they will not have manpower to take care of once you are stationed there. All 3 kids passed with flying colors. I did not.

They Army looks at the past 5 years of mental health for people and generally (from what I've heard/read) disqualifies spouses/families from going overseas if there has been an issue. To clarify - they look at many, many different issues of family members like seizures, diabetes, asthma, etc, but my only issue was the mental health aspect.  My sister died 4 years ago, and at the same time my other sister basically told me I wasn't part of the family & I should have allowed the "core" family (I'm their step-sister) to mourn alone, and Ryan was gearing up for his 4th deployment.  Landry was in Speech/PT/OT for 5 hours a week, which required me to sign him out of school early, take him to the therapy place off base, drive back to the elementary school to get Audree & Delanie, drive with them back to get Landry, then drive home. I was trying to maintain myself and I couldn't and I cracked.  I reached out for help from my doctor, who ultimately decided that I needed to see a Psychiatrist & Psychologist, and I did see them both for over a year.  I took medication after medication, trying to find something to take the pain away. What took the pain away was time, not 11 pills a night. Eventually I stopped taking my medication (cold turkey - DO NOT RECOMMEND) and just stopped seeing my doctors cold turkey (again, DO NOT RECOMMEND). Honestly, I've felt better these past 3 years then I have in ... forever? I don't know. But generally much  better.  I think that it also helps that I am finally on a hormone treatment that works great.  When this doctor flagged me at my screening appointment, it was not something that I had even considered to be a possibility.  They are making me sign onto the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP), and our chances of going to Germany are down to near zero. Not completely a "no", but we are now in a very large up-hill battle. 

I am devastated, and distraught, and sad, and upset, and angry.  I'm irrationally mad at myself for reaching out for help, even though I clearly needed it. Please don't be confused. I UNDERSTAND why the military does the screening - imagine if they didn't do the screening and people were moved, at a great expense by the Army to another country, and when they got there no one could help them out with this preexisting condition. But I wish that there were a way for me to help them understand the reasons why I reached out.  That was a shit-storm of epic proportions, and it knocked me down.  I don't want to feel like I am being penalized for reaching out for help when it was truly needed, but that is the exact way I feel.  I was told that they (the Army & the gaining unit in Germany) couldn't risk me getting to a new country, where the weather is often cold & rainy & gray, and then have Ryan deploy & I wouldn't be near family or a strong support system.  And I get that. I DO. I get that the combination of all of those factors could spiral someone out of control. That doesn't, however, mean that I have to agree, emotionally anyway, to that logic or way of thinking.  I have lived with myself for 33 years.  I know me pretty well, better than any algorithm the Army has for determining who I will react in a situation. If I could tell the person who will ultimately make the final say-so to us moving our not anything, it would be this.

I needed help for a specific situation in which my sister was suddenly killed, my other sister decided to take out her pain on me, my child needed a ton of extra attention weekly, and my husband was about to go to war for a 4th time, simultaneously.  Chances are near 100% that I will never be in that exact situation again. There will certainly be stressful situations in living abroad, but I feel confident that I will manage them well.  I have done deployments alone before.  My son has graduated from all of his needs for PT/OT/ and Speech. I have 3 friends here at my current base that I could call on, and I've lived here 11 years. I am self-reliant, and stable, and will be okay.  I am 33 years old. I know what resources are available to me, and I know how to find what I need to get what I need.  We have saved money over the past few months so that we will not go broke from the move. I am confident that my mental health has strengthened over the past 3 years. Just months after we move to Germany, we have friends that we have known for 20 years moving there to the same base. I have already met women who live at our prospective base, and I am in school that I can continue online.  In short, I am living life now, and would love the opportunity to experience life in Germany with my family. Thank you. 


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