I made a choice during transition from the military to seek mental health counseling. I’m not crazy, ok maybe that is not politically correct but I knew I needed help.
When my husband told me that I was not acting like myself and it was becoming harder and harder to just have a casual conversation with me without fear of me ‘blowing up,’ – yeah, I knew it was time to seek help. I value my relationships with the ones I love and when ‘what was going on in my head’ began to negatively impact them I knew I needed to put my pride aside and talk with someone.
So I found myself sitting in the counselor’s office. She was real nice, a Veteran as well. She was very easy to talk to. She really wanted me to understand that I had a right to have input into my treatment plan, all aspects of treatment – from if I needed medicine to which counselor I would meet with. That made me feel like she had a real interest in my care and that the Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center was really concerned about the effectiveness of their services to me – the Veteran.
So here we are, and I have to laugh because I’m crying, barely able to talk, sputtering on about when I was 15 and wondering “What the Hell! What kind of mojo you put on me lady? And why am I talking about the struggles I had when I was 15?!?” I thought I was here to figure out why I was having such a strong emotional reaction to transitioning from the military. I felt bamboozled and all I could do was laugh at that point because I was already crying.
The truth is, it was all part of the process. We all have our own individual issues that hit us in the face when we find our mind idle. Transition from military life to civilian life is one of those times in life when the mind actually has an opportunity to slow down, to idle. This is when you’ll find yourself reminiscing about the good times you had during your military career, your friends you made along the way, the awesome places you traveled to and then you’ll find yourself missing all of that. And that’s when ‘it’ will hit you. ‘It’ is different for all of us but ‘it’ most definitely will invoke some emotions in you, emotions that may be hard for you to process, communicate or even understand. This is when you’ll need to make a decision to seek help.
Help comes in all shapes and forms, mental health counseling is one of those forms and the one I chose to seek out to help me make progress in this journey called life. And that is the attitude to take when seeking help – it is indeed a journey, a definite process. So whether you seek mental health counseling, a life coach, or your best friend, know there are resources available to help you. There is no honor in suffering in silence so please get help if you need it.
Lila Holley is a retired Chief Warrant Officer Four and Combat Veteran of the US Army. After encountering her own emotional challenges during transition after a 22 year career, Lila became a certified Life Coach and is determined to help as many Military Members and Veterans as she can, maneuver through the emotions of transitioning from military life to civilian life. She found that many Service Members struggled with the emotional side of transitioning to civilian life but discovered that not many were talking about it outside of a mental health diagnosis – It’s not always PTSD that makes a Veteran angry. She wants to be that Battle Buddy you can lean on during transition. Lila is also a mother and grandmother. Check out her website at www.lilaholley.com.