Coming back from military service, even if you didn’t see active combat, the world changed. Some things that you never noticed before are suddenly irritations. Things that were mere irritations are now oppressive. And some things that used to matter… just don't anymore.
It's normal, and you are justified in feeling that way.
Take a few minutes and self-evaluate. Can you make it through the day? Do you think it would help if only somebody would just listen?
If you think you need help, or things feel far too oppressive, you may need the help of a doctor and prescription medication until you feel stable and secure again. Medication should be a stepping stone to getting well again.
If you think medication is a little too harsh or you don't quite need that kind of help, there are quite many natural therapies that can help you adjust and be in control.
When you're released from active military service, you're sent back into a world you don't quite match up with. After seeing your family, it may be beneficial to take a few days to a few weeks away from them to observe people's behavior.
Watching people interact with others, especially parents and children, can help you recall and reassert behavior patterns outside of the military context. As your mind adjusts back to a calmer way of life, you can rejoin your family knowing you are more healthy and stable, and their behavior less surprising.
After months or years in military service, you may not be used to people touching you. Gentle hugs, caresses, and physical contact may seem different now. Although not talked about often, touch starvation can occur.
In a professional setting such as a massage or acupuncture session, the therapists can reacquaint you with gentle and therapeutic touch. And in these settings, the therapist has the training to understand certain emotions that can be brought to the surface through contact and can support you at this time.
Additionally, massage, acupuncture, and reflexology have positive health benefits that can help you physically recover. Just be sure to talk to the therapist before your session to let them know you are a veteran.
The herbs St. John's Wort and ginseng both work to help stabilize your mental processes and bring you back to a state of calmness. For mild depression, St John’s Wort is as effective as prescription medications. So, if you want to avoid prescriptions, St John’s Wort is a great place to start.
Both of these herbs take a little bit of time to show effectiveness, anywhere from two to four weeks. We recommend talking to an herbalist to get a proper serving size and other herbs that may be beneficial for you. Never take St. John’s Wort with prescription antidepressants.
Animal therapy has done wonders to help people with PTSD, depression, and other mental blocks. Animals are unconditionally loving. Having a pet or an emotional support animal can help offset depression and PTSD symptoms. In cases of more severe depression and PTSD, you may qualify for a service dog.
But, not everybody can have a pet with them. Your living situation may not accommodate a pet. But, there are alternatives. Cat and dog cafes are popping up that allow people to interact with animals and have human interaction.
Around the country, hundreds of animal shelters are looking for volunteers to help take care of the animals, such as walking dogs, petting cats, or cleaning up after them. By volunteering at an animal shelter, you can interact with the animals and help support a worthy cause. You may just save another life with your caring.
Seeing a therapist is hard. There may be time or approval constraints that delay treatment. A softer side of therapy is coaching. Thousands of coaches across the country help people with various types of health and wellness issues. Coaches are also more personal and friendly than many therapists. Some coaches specialize in helping people with depression, PTSD, or problems coming out of the military, so you can talk to one of these people without having to explain yourself. Many of the coaches are willing to listen and work on understanding, even if they've never had any experience with military service.
The best benefit of coaching over therapy is that you can contact the coach at any time and get instantaneous help. Most coaches are committed to making sure you feel better.
Using one, two, or all of these tips can help bring you back into a better state of mind. Trying these tips work well for many people with mild to moderate issues. If you feel you have time to heal, these can work wonders for you. If you have overwhelming thoughts or feelings, contact one of the hotlines for suicide, depression, or veterans affairs.
By Christina K Major, Holistic Nutritionist, and Traditional Naturopath
Crystal Holistic Health Consulting