Unshakeable! A former teammate of mine left a comment after my first blog post and used the word “unshakeable”. I understood what he meant, but the word to me at the time was so profound. As a person who is struggling to figure out all the things that are going on with me, both physically and mentally, the word shined bright like a diamond. It stood out because most people would have viewed or described me in the same manner; unshakeable. Until recently, I would have agreed. However, now, I think it is foolish to try and be unshakeable all the time. There are moments that require it, but all the time, c’mon.
No outlet! Get real, it is impossible. At some point it is going to boil over. Some form or fashion it is going to hit you. I thought I was one of the lucky few, but the depression I feel now is so heavy, because I refused to accept it for far too long. Depressed! Depressed about what you could ask? It would be a legitimate question. Like I said in my first blog post “Code Heart,” I have a pretty amazing life. What in the hell could I be depressed about or have anxiety about. My answer, I’m not quite sure. I think it comes from a number of things.
Firstly, I think I went about separating from the military completely wrong. I thought it was cool to blow past all of the available counseling and classes offered. Thinking, ‘those suckers, how could you be so weak.’ I was an idiot. Second, I didn’t think I had such a strong sense of identity with the military. I was proud of what I was doing, but I didn’t think it would affect me leaving as badly as it did. I was an idiot, again!
The bond you create with the small group of Soldiers cannot be recreated. It’s a bond that truly stands the test of time. You literally kill for them, you go to war with them, and they become your brother and sister. I posted my first blog post and was overwhelmed with the outreach from former teammates. Leaving the military and not having that feeling slowly ate at me. I constantly felt like, and still do at times, that no one understands me. The only people who understand me are the ones who were there with me. Who shared the spilled blood, the sweat, and tears. The military was my tribe, and I left that tribe. Cold turkey left the tribe. I simply did not understand how important that tribe was to me, or how big of a part in played in my life.
How does one cope with something they don’t understand? If you’re me, with the depression, you just refuse to accept it. Which is absolutely the dumbest thing you can do. Again, I was an idiot! Acceptance is the only way that you can get through something like this. So my wife says, she is quite a bit smarter than I am. She’s been telling me for almost two-years, “you need to write about your experiences, you need to still mentor young leaders.” She is right, and I will write about those experiences; however, I feel its more important right now to describe the place I’m writing from.
I’m writing from a place I don’t fully understand, which scares me. It scares me because I like to be in control. I can’t control something that I don’t understand. So the first thing I have started to do is make sure that I do understand. I am seeking counseling, I am seeing different people for things. I have no shame in that now. Before, I wouldn’t even contemplate doing something like this. Exposing myself to the public for judgement, ridicule, help, all of those things. I am exposed now. If I want to get past this, this thing that seems to hold me down and eat at me, I have to accept it and take ownership of it.
Unshakeable! I am not unshakeable. As I write different parts of this, it is for relief. An attempt to calm the storm, fighting the anxiety and depression. I am vulnerable. I have weaknesses. I’ve spent my entire life learning how to hide the things that make me nervous, that make me sad, that make me feel shakeable. Well let me tell you, I don’t have it together. I am shakeable. My mind goes all over the place and thinks about things that I can’t control. Now I have to try and unlearn something that I have spent the better part of my teenage and adult years teaching myself. Teaching myself not to show emotion, not to seem rattled, to always have it together. ‘I lead people, I can’t show emotion!’ That’s what I thought. I am working on those things, but they’re real to me. Those things (struggles, depression, anxiety) are a part of me. I have to accept the fact that I am depressed about things, even though I have an amazing life. Leaving the military took a huge part of me away, and I haven’t put those pieces back together yet, but I’m trying.
I need to acknowledge the things I do have. I do have an amazing TEAM at work, who does care about me, who would run through a brick-wall for me. I have to remember I will never have the team I had before, or the one before the last, but I can take OWNERSHIP of the team I have now. I can relate to them with the struggles we face, the failures we have, the success we have. I need to understand that I am in a different place now. The past is the past, but the past is what made me the person I am today. Now, I need to focus on being a person who can influence the future with my experiences of the past. I need to be a new me!