October 20, 2008

For Family of Incarcerated Veterans and Soldiers

In the last post I wrote some suggestions to help with a veteran or soldier diagnosed with PTSD and charged with a crime, today I want to touch on some additional suggestions to those persons involved and separated from their loved ones. This information could apply to anyone in a position of adversity and great change.

During times of great turmoil and adversity such as a loved one struggling and succumbing to the ravishing effects of PTSD, this will release devastating effects on the person and sometimes can reap outrageous and deleterious consequences to others. During times such as the later, we may have our loved one incarcerated due to their actions under extreme duress due to triggered stressors leading to abominable repercussions to all involved.

This tragedy will lead to a host of emotional states, starting a whole cycle of sensations you will be going through, similar to the grief cycle that goes with a loss of a loved one as if they had passed away. Realize this and begin your passage through it, without doing this you will not be able to weather the oncoming issues.

The first issue needing attention more than anything; take care of yourself first. This will be a long journey that you find yourself in, it has just begun. I'm sure your loved one wants you to be happy and to do that, you need not put your life on hold during this ordeal.

I went through a long custody battle for my children and put everything on hold for 8 years and as this court battle went on, to the detriment of my mental and physical health. I won custody of my children in my state, but she moved them to the next state that did not recognize my states proceedings or my court order for custody. Long story short, I DID NOT THINK OF MY SELF FIRST and lost everything, my kids, house, my second marriage and eventually my sanity. I let the whole ordeal define me; I was the case and the case was me, there was nothing else, and I was consumed by the whole process.

Self-care is not being selfish, since I have learned that by thinking about myself and meeting my needs first I was able to take resume my responsibilities. I learned the concepts of personal boundaries where boundary concepts and identification gives you the ability to not let life and situations overwhelm and control you; your feelings of discomfort will alert you of boundary intrusions.

Self-care is loving yourself so you can love others, helping yourself so you may help others as long as no harm has come to you. When I figured this out I was able to function at a level I had never before achieved. By not taking care of self we begin to loath self and think only in terms of failure, a development of self-loathing and negative perspectives will warp our reality and doom us to fail; a self fulling prophecy. Extremely important to my peace of mind, praying and meditating.

It seems counterproductive to issues of great importance to you today, this process will be a long and drawn out trial and ordeal for all concerned. You have to accept that, it is of utmost important that you accept this, right now. It will alleviate quite a bit of anxiety and stress just by accepting that you have been committed to a long process that may take years to resolve.

It may feel as if you will be betraying your soldier or veteran by trying to let go of some of the feelings that you have been clinging to. It only feels like this, you have to let go of these feelings to get through it. By holding on to the emotions and not letting go we stay stuck in the moment and cannot grow. The ability to grow in personal development during times of extreme adversity will be the ONE thing we need to begin toward a forward momentum, without it we will fail.

Now, with our acceptance of personal self and our life situation our load will lighten, as we now have the ability to spontaneously interact with our environment instead of only reacting. We can begin to trust our own judgments in the moment without having to try and think of every possibility and contingency in exchanges between individuals. By doing this we loose sight of the subtler interactions in life and miss out on important exchanges that effective interpersonal communication requires.

List of Self-Care Contingencies:
  • Self-care, by taking care of self we can navigate life successfully
  • Personal boundaries, with self defined boundaries we can assert ourselves effectively
  • Grief-cycle, by accepting our situations and self we can grow as our life situations require
  • Acceptance, self validation and self examination allows change and forward momentum
  • Interpersonal communication, allows for effective exchanges; a give and take interaction necessary for negotiations that dominate most social situations, business networking and judicial settings
I wish you well on your journey, it will be difficult and can be an opportunity to advance and advocate the cause by shedding light on the plight our veteran and soldiers face due to the consequences of inadequate funding and lack of mental health services.

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